Exploring Lake Tahoe’s illustrious backcountry just got a little easier in the South Shore.
The U.S. Forest Service has been busy this summer building, restoring and maintaining several trails to enhance the recreational experience in the area.
Other regions at the lake have already seen the benefits of the agency’s large-scale projects. Now the South Shore is getting the treatment.
In fact, many new paths are already complete and ready for people to use. The latest is a bike path connecting Fallen Leaf Campground to the Pope Baldwin National Recreation Trail.
Fallen Leaf Lake Project — Phase One
Constructed under the first phase of the Fallen Leaf Lake Trail Access and Travel Management Plan, the Fallen Leaf Bike Path provides safer access to Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe, according to the Forest Service.
It was completed about two weeks ago. It’s one of two major components in phase one of the larger project. The second consists of extensive trail work on the north end of the lake to Highway 89.
There, the Forest Service is decommissioning certain trails in areas where there are parallel paths while creating some new trails altogether. Crews are also performing trail maintenance and installing better signage and drainage features.
“That’s the most heavily used corridor,” Trails Engineer Jacob Quinn said. “That’s the area that was our priority for sustainability and improving the recreational experience.”
Work is also being done on portions of the Mt. Tallac Trail.
The Forest Service hopes to continue the Fallen Leaf Lake project during the second phase in 2015. It has not acquired funds for that phase at this time, but Quinn said he feels “really good about the opportunity to continue that work next summer.”
Phase one of the project costs about $300,000.
High Meadows Restoration Project — Monument Pass Trail
Also recently finished was work on Monument Pass Trail, a newly constructed path that connects High Meadows to the Tahoe Rim Trail.
The approximately 3-mile trail is part of a bigger endeavor — the High Meadows Restoration Project — that encompasses previous work done on the Cold Creek and Star Lake trails.
The High Meadows project started in 2011 with the rebuilding of Cold Creek Trail.
With the construction on Monument Pass, the Forest Service wanted to improve the trail system with loop options, as well as providing better access to views of the basin, Quinn said.
“That one in particular was pretty challenging for us just due to the amount of bedrock and rock that we encountered,” he said. “So that did take us a little longer then we wanted it to, and it did cost a little bit more than we were hoping. But we felt like it was worth it because at this point we feel like it’s just world class.”
About $265,000 was needed to complete the trail.
“It’s an outstanding experience hiking, biking, riding a horse or however you want to use it,” he said.
Angora Restoration Project — Angora Trail Project
Similar to the Fallen Leaf Lake area, trails in the Angora area were a mix of user-created and agency-managed paths. However, that all changed after the 2007 Angora Fire.
“It opened up some new areas, burned over some areas and we couldn’t even find some of the trails anymore,” Quinn said. “So we felt there was a need for a comprehensive plan.”
After the fire, a restoration plan was developed that included a project to rebuild the trail system in the region. The Forest Service built the infrastructure for the system last year, but was delayed by the government shutdown.
This year, the agency was able to get back to the project and complete it. Crews were putting the finishing touches on the approximately 5.5-mile, $280,000 trail system Wednesday.
The trail can be accessed from Tahoe Mountain Road.