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Heaven on Earth for Hikers

June 15, 2003

The 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail offers some of the most spectacular views of any hiking path in the nation. As hikers trek around this grand loop, they get many different views of the 12-by-25-mile alpine lake in the northern Sierra. In the opposite direction, there is a grand variety of scenery, including the vast granite wilderness of Desolation Valley to the west, the casino towers of Stateline, Nev., to the south and the verdant Washoe and Carson valleys to the east in Nevada.

The trail has been under construction since 1984 and was essentially completed two years ago. But a landmark was the U.S. Forest Service's recent purchase of 629 acres at Barker Pass southwest of Tahoe City, Calif., from a private lumber company for $875,000. And last Saturday, the Forest Service officially designated the Tahoe Rim route as a national recreation trail, thus recognizing it as one of the nation's best.

The Barker Pass land is part of a 50-mile stretch that is shared by the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. The elevation of the Tahoe trail ranges from 6,200 feet, roughly the level of the lake, to 10,333.

It's not necessary to hike the whole trail at once, of course, although some stalwarts will do so. The trail can be accessed at a number of points, including U.S. 50 on the south and California 267 and 89 on the north, both providing direct links to Interstate 80.

Much of the Tahoe trail was built on the sweat and shovel work of members of the Tahoe Rim Trail Assn. Ken Miller of Carmichael, a Tahoe trail association official, said, "The effort it takes to build a simple trail, using nothing but hand tools for the most part, is amazing."

Lake Tahoe is frequently called "the lake in the sky" because of its elevation. Today, hikers have access to a trail that is even higher in the sky, one that affords sublime views of Lake Tahoe from virtually any angle. They have members of the association and the Forest Service, among others, to thank for this.

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