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Blackwood Canyon

Tahoe National Forest

Tahoe National Forest Links:

March 3rd, 2001

5 miles
210 vertical feet
Total Time: 3:59

Rating: 5/10

Directions:   View Driving Map

This snowshoe hike would rate a 6 or 7 if not for one unfortunate fact -- it's popular with snowmobilers. Jean and I endured a half dozen or so of the noisy, smelly beasts. The rest of the hike was quiet and pleasant, however.

We started off by parking on the side of Highway 89. The sno-park lot had space, but charged a $75 fine if you didn't have a parking pass, which we didn't. Seemed pretty ridiculous. I wouldn't mind paying the $5 or $10 for a parking pass, except there was no one there to accept it.

Note: don't believe the directions in Michael White's "Snowshoe Trails of Tahoe". The book says it's 8.1 miles south of the junction of 89 and 28. It's not -- it's more like 5 miles. Stay alert.

Jean at the start of the trail

After carefully crossing the freeway we put on our snowshoes and started off on the wide road. There were short snow banks on either side, with mostly conifers on either side. Occasionally there were a different kind of trees -- aspens perhaps, but I'm not sure.

The snowmobiles were a nuisance, but they were generally few and far between until the very end when all of them returned to the parking lot at once just when we were finishing our hike. In the meantime, though, we met a scattered few snowshoers, cross-country skiers, dogs, and hikers.

Aspens along the trail

We passed a sign saying we'd hiked one mile, knowing we had another mile and a half to go before we reached the creek and our turn-around point. The trail continues for a total of 7 miles all the way to Barker Pass, but we certainly didn't have the time or energy for a 14 mile snowshoe hike today.

Trees blocked most of our views for much of the hike until just before the 2 mile mark, where a clearing opened up on our left and we could see glimpses of the creek amongst a maze of random snowshoe and ski trails. Soon enough we crossed the creek and hiked partway upstream to find a place to rest and eat. We stamped down an area and laid down a poncho and sat down (insulated with clothes of course). After taking off my snowshoes I began to appreciate them more as I sank up to my knees several times.

Blackwood Creek near our lunch stop

After some food I wandered up to the creek a bit more to take some pictures before we packed up and started the hike back. Along the way we decided to take a little detour into the clearing. We followed existing snowshoe tracks until we decided it made more sense to blaze our own trail. I postholed over the unbroken powder for a while, Jean following in my tracks. I'd forgotten how much work it is to break trail in fresh snow. It's something I haven't done much of before, usually sticking to existing trails. It's tough work, but a lot of fun, too.

Blackwood Creek

There's some enjoyable scenery, but we soon decided to rejoin the main trail on our left so that we could get back before it got too dark. On the way back we somehow missed seeing the one mile marker, but suddenly found ourselves at the end of our hike. Unfortunately for us, as we did so, a half dozen snowmobiles came screaming down at us from behind.

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