Description - Tahoe National Forest lands range from an elevation of 1,500 feet in the American River canyon on the western edge of the forest to over 9,400 feet on top of Mt. Lola, along the Sierra Crest. The Tahoe National Forest is renowned for its rugged beauty, outstanding downhill and cross-country ski opportunities, historic sites, and exceptionally productive timber lands. Mineral extraction has been an important economic and physical force on the Forest for over 140 years, due to its location at the heart of California's Gold Rush.
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Tahoe National Forest
- The Forest maintains 76 family campgrounds, 12 group campgrounds, 23 picnic grounds and 15 boating sites. Six downhill ski areas are located wholly or partially on National Forest System lands and are operated by private parties with special use permits. In addition, organization camps, recreation residences, resorts, whitewater rafting, mountaineering and outfitter guide services provide recreation experiences through the permit system.
The Granite Chief is a 25,680 acre wilderness area in the southeastern portion of the Forest. It can be accessed from several trailheads on either the west (Foresthill) or east (Truckee) side, or via the Pacific Crest Trail, running north-south through the wilderness. The Wilderness showcases spectacular glacial scenery, including Picayune Valley, Granite Chief, the west slope of Squaw Peak, and encompasses the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the American River.
Recreation - The Tahoe has campsites available for nearly every desire and need, from small, primitive campgrounds, with outhouse and table, to large, more highly developed sites, with paved roads, handicapped accessibility, and flush toilets. Many sites are reservable. Group camps can be found throughout the Forest. These sites have capacities for groups of 25-100 people.
The Tahoe National Forest is a popular fishing destination; in fact, it receives more anglers yearly than any other National Forest in California. Some of the best reservoir fishing can be found at Sugar Pine or French Meadows on the Foresthill District, Bullard's Bar on the Downieville District, Jackson Meadows on the Sierraville District, or in Prosser, Boca, or Stampede reservoirs on the Truckee District. Terrific stream fishing can be found in the waters of the South Yuba, the North Yuba, Truckee, or the Middle and North Forks of the American rivers. The North Fork of the American has been designated by the State as a wild trout stream.
Over 500 miles of trails can be found on the Forest, ranging in elevation from the top of Mt. Lola (over 9,000') on the Sierraville District to the North Fork American River on the Foresthill District (1,500'). Some trails, such as a portion of the Sugar Pine Trail on the Foresthill District, are designed for wheelchair accessibility. The most famous trail on the Tahoe National Forest is probably the portion of the Pacific Crest Trail which leads through the Forest. The low country of the Forest has some wonderful hiking opportunities in the winter.
The rivers of the Tahoe, including the North and Middle Forks of the American, the North Yuba and the Truckee, are popular rafting rivers for people of all skill levels.
There are several areas designated specifically for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use. The most popular of these is the Foresthill OHV system, some 85 miles of trails built for motorcycle and ATV use. Four-wheel-drive enthusiasts will find challenging terrain at Fordyce Creek on the Nevada City Ranger District.
Some of the finest ski areas in the Western United States are located on the Tahoe National Forest, and the Donner Summit area is famous for having the deepest snows in the United States. Downhill ski and snowboard areas on the Forest include Alpine Meadows, Boreal, Donner Ski Ranch, Squaw Valley, and Sugar Bowl. The Forest has many areas for backcountry skiing along I-80, SR 89, and other roads on the Forest.
Climate - The Tahoe generally experiences warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. A snowpack from 5-10 feet or more is usually present from December to May at elevations above 6,500 feet. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.
The Tahoe National Forest straddles the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains in northern California, and encompasses a vast territory, from the foothills on the western slope to the high peaks of the Sierra crest. The Forest Headquarters is located in Nevada City, California, with District Offices in Foresthill, Nevada City, Camptonville, Sierraville, and
Truckee. Interstate 80 bisects the Forest between Reno, Nevada and Sacramento, California. During the summer months, a Visitor Center is open at Big Bend, 18 miles west of Truckee on Interstate 80.
The Tahoe is bordered on the north by the Plumas National Forest, on the south by the Eldorado National Forest, on the east by the Toiyabe National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, and the
foothills above the great Sacramento Valley on the west.