Sunday, September 29, 2013

Best Hikes In Tahoe - Meyer's Grade

Category - Easy
View Rating - 6 out of 10
Distance - 3 miles round trip
Elevation gain - 700 vertical

Meyer's Grade isn't in the hiking books because it isn't a classic trail through the woods. So why is it one of the most popular hiking/biking spots in all of Tahoe, especially for locals? Because it is easily accessible year 'round, and it is one of the classic walk-and-talks. Unlike the narrow single track trails that fill the hiking books, this is a real road where vehicles aren't allowed, so groups of people can walk side-by-side and visit while they exercise. (For me, as with many people, the single track trails that climb up the mountain are my favorites. But I hike Meyer's Grade more often because of its accessibility.)
Meyer's Grade is the old highway from Echo Summit down to Meyers, the first community that you come to in Tahoe when you arrive on Highway 50.
To get to Meyer's Grade, take Highway 50 to the point where it starts to climb up Echo Summit. Turn off on South Upper Truckee Road. (This is just “up” from the bridge over the Truckee River.) Drive south about 1/10 of a mile, then turn right.
You are now on Meyer's Grade. This is the old highway, narrower and steeper than the current highway. You'll come to a locked gate. Park anywhere on the shoulder below it. Caltrans maintains Meyer's Grade, and even plows it occasionally in the winter because it is the back-up road in case an avalanche or an accident blocks the newer highway.
This means that Meyer's Grade is the ultimate people's highway, free of cars and trucks. It is just for pedestrians and their dogs. (Again, leash laws apply. You will see many people with their dogs running free. But if the Animal Control officer shows up and finds your pooch off-leash, you will face a stiff fine.)
A few hardy bicyclists also use the grade, but most days you won't see them.
(We know a man who takes his unicycle up and down “The Grade.”)
Meyer's Grade makes a gentle, curving climb up 1.5 miles and 700 vertical feet. At the top is another locked gate where it joins the newer highway.
All along the way, you'll get great views of Christmas Valley below, Stevens Peak to the south, and Lake Tahoe in the distance to the north.
Sometimes, you can hike the grade and see very few people. Other times, you will see many, young and old, even moms pushing strollers. (Yes, there are multiple, super-fit young mothers who push their kids up and down 700 vertical feet every day! Imagine what kind of shape they'll be in when they get to 50 or 70.)
Plug “Meyers Grade, South Upper Truckee Road, South Lake Tahoe” into Google Maps, and you'll be able to print out your map.

After you walk past the locked gate at the bottom, the road climbs up at a gentle angle.

As you climb, you begin to get some nice views.
The light areas, below center, are the sides of the road you've just walked up.
In the distance, the gray stripe without trees is the path of the
Angora Fire. Back in 2007, it burned from left to right and took out 254 houses.
Fortunately, no one died.
It was started by an illegal campfire.

On the left side of this dead tree perched a large hawk.

After a rest, it flew away.

In a moment, it found a thermal updraft, and it rose high up into the sky.

When you get to the top of Meyer's Grade, you come to another locked gate.
This view is beyond the gate, looking back down from where we've come.
How wonderful to have a road just for pedestrians!
To the left, you can see a car driving down the current, newer highway.
The cars all drive along unaware that hikers and bikers have
their own highway that descends, at a steeper angle, to the right.

From the top are great views. In the distance on the left is Heavenly.
Come winter, thousands of skiers will have a great time, skiing from California to
Nevada and back. Who knew you could ski from one state to another?
Hiking Meyer's Grade is a great way to get a sense of what Tahoe locals do for everyday exercise. Come join us!

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