A Locals Look at Snowshoeing

by Jeff Moser


The best bet for snowshoeing in Carson City is at Spooner Summit and the surrounding areas, just 20 minutes up the mountain on Highway 50 from downtown. Here are a few trailheads, the trails ranging from beginner to advanced.

Those looking for groomed trails should head up to the Spooner Lake Backcountry. Part of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, this fee area has off-highway parking and restrooms just north of Spooner Summit on State Route 28. There are good options for beginners here, like a two-mile snowshoe around Spooner Lake, or an easy walk up to Spencer’s Cabin and the meadows to the west. Ambitious snowshoers can make the five-mile climb up North Canyon to Marlette Lake.

About 2.5 miles north from Spooner Summit on State Route 28 is an unmarked trailhead for Skunk Harbor. This trail is easy walking, but does have nearly 600 feet of elevation change. There is limited off-street parking here, and the trail begins at a gated dirt road that descends to the lakeshore of Lake Tahoe. It’s about 1.5 miles on a wide, easy-to-follow trail down to the lake, and provided there’s enough snow, you can snowshoe right up to the water for a beautiful view. Just remember you must also climb 1.5 miles back up the steep road to get back to the trailhead!

More advanced snowshoers will enjoy the Tahoe Rim Trail. The Tahoe Rim Trail crosses Spooner Summit with trailhead parking along the road. These trails are not maintained in the winter, take some navigation skills and you may be cutting fresh tracks after a snow storm. Nearby Duane Bliss Peak can be climbed by taking the Tahoe Rim Trail south, and then finding a decent cross-country route to the top. Heading north on the Tahoe Rim Trail will take you toward Snow Valley Peak, the highest peak in Carson City at 9,213-foot elevation. Since this trek is 12 miles out and back, only attempt this if you are in good shape and have plenty of daylight and fair weather. It can also get very windy up top, even in the best conditions.