Sunday, June 1, 2014

Best Hikes In Tahoe - Chiapa Water Tower, South Shore

Category - Easy
View Rating - 6 out of 10
Distance - Approximately 1 mile round trip
Elevation Gain - 150 feet
Highest Point - 6800

View from the top of the hike

Would you like a short easy hike with great views all to yourself?
Would you like to visit what might be the grandest location for a ballroom dance floor on the top of a mini-mountain?
This hike is not only unpublicized in the hiking books, not even most avid local hikers know about it. In fact, the only time that anyone goes to this spot is when the rare water utility worker unlocks the gate and drives in to check it out.
To get there, drive from Meyers on the South Shore up Hwy 50 toward Echo Summit. You will only go a short distance from Meyers before you cross the Upper Truckee River. A long block after that, you’ll pass North Upper Truckee Road. Stay on Hwy 50. Less than a quarter mile farther comes Chiapa Dr. on your right. Turn onto Chiapa and stay on it to its end approximately 3/4 mile from Hwy 50.
There is plenty of parking on the street where the road dead-ends, and your vehicle won’t bother the neighborhood residents because they are all some distance away.
There is plenty of parking on a deserted, dead-end street.

There is a gate to the left. That is the beginning of your gently-climbing hike up to a large water tower/tank. 
The gate marks the beginning of the hike.
The climb is gentle, the path wide.
As the trail climbs higher, the views get grander.
Eventually, you will see the water tank. The trail loops around it and continues up a short way.

Continue up, past the tank a short distance and you will come to a new, flat concrete platform that caps the old reservoir. This is the actual top of a mini mountain, and it makes a fantastic picnic spot.
This is the concrete cap on top of the old reservoir.

To one side of the concrete cap there is a place where you can step up (about three feet) to the surface, a 60-foot square where you can practice your dance moves under a circle of mountain peaks. And no one will be around to tease you if you start singing, “The hills are alive with the Sound Of Music…”
Your 360-degree views stretch from Stevens Peak to the south, Flagpole Peak to the west, Mt. Tallac to the northwest, Freel Peak and Heavenly to the east, and Mt. Rose a healthy 30 miles to the north.
Looking across the 60-foot-square ballroom dance floor at the top of the mini mountain.
In the distance is Echo Ridge. Just on the other side of the wall of rock is Echo Lake.

Flagpole Peak
Echo Peak
The diagonal line is Hwy 50 crawling down from Echo Summit.
Steven's Peak is just visible beyond the ridgeline.
Mt. Rose is the far mountain, right rear, 30 miles away.
Hwy 50 as it goes through Meyers, which is south of South Lake Tahoe.
The mountain rising up at the left rear is Heavenly Ski Resort.
To the south is Christmas Valley. The valley floor is out of sight, a few hundred feet below.

This is the perfect hike for anyone who doesn’t feel up to longer, more strenuous hikes, but wants a real hike where you still climb (gently) a short distance to nice views.

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