Early Spring Weekends in the Mountains Are Refreshing
Graeagle California, March 2022 – North of Truckee Ca. on HWY 89 is a stretch of country that screams mountain life. Fresh clear water streams, Large Alpine Meadows, thick forest landscapes, wildlife around just about every bend and small yet robust local mountain towns filled with people who enjoy life at a different pace. Graeagle Ca. sits 58 miles up HWY 89 from Truckee and is a great drive anytime the snow is not flying. For me and my wife it was just what the doctor ordered for a little R&R on the feather river.
My wife often says each year on our anniversary that we got married in the wrong season. March it would seem always provides mild temperatures, and to an individual who is not crazy about snow sports or being cold, (my wife) that limits activates. But on our 28th anniversary this year she had asked for a quiet cabin in the mountains where she could relax, read a book and take the pup along for an adventure. After along search around the Sierra we settled on this little bungalow cabin in Blairsden, just across the river from Graeagle. After 28 years together I love the fact that we enjoy some of the simpler sides of life together .
This little Bungalow we found on VRBO was perfect, a back porch view of the Feather River and wildlife galore all around. From the frogs croaking from in the pasture below to the wild turkeys that ran the hillside night and day. Walking distance to a day use area along the river and located directly behind a popular little Italian pizza joint called Gumbas that serves a great pizza with a friendly staff. A one bedroom bungalow with a pretty nice size kitchen, and a great outside back deck and breakfast nook this would become home base for my weekend adventure.
Discovering The Brewering Lair
Before our trip I had reached out to a unique business that was popping up on one of my social channels called the Pinecone Kitchen that was fermenting their own brand of Black Garlic for the locals market. More on this in our Next Edition. They had left a sample of the garlic as an anniversary gift at a joint called the Brewing Lair. On my first morning in Blairsden I decided that I could cut cross country across the highway (70) and up the side of the mountain to walk the dog. She loves when we go off trail and just run in the hills. A short while after climbing I ran into a dirt road and decided to follow until I ran into a trail. Low and behold the trail lead me straight to the Brewing Lair. Don’t worry if you decide to stop by there is an easier way to get their, but for me finding a trail in the woods that leads to the local brewery, well that is something to talk about.
The Brewing Lair is an incredible place. Disc Golf Course, Slack Lines, huge lawned patio with fire pit and tables etc.. I would return later in the day when they were open for my first pint of a Red Ale, forget the name but it was perfect. I must suggest that if you are traveling to this region in the future and have never looked up the Brewing Lair, it is an outdoors paradise for beer drinkers.
Hanging Hammocks on the Feather River
I spent my afternoon in a hammock hang down on the feather river with the dog, as my wife wanted to cuddle up in the breakfast nook and read a good book. A beautiful afternoon in the region in the mid to upper 50’s and the wildlife sounds down by the river were very relaxing. I love hanging hammocks all year but on spring afternoons when the birds and squirrels are active it is such a pleasant feeling.
Lakes Basin Recreation Area
The Lakes Basin recreation area is not a new place for us. We have travelled here on day trips to Frazier Falls and Gold lake as well as Traveling over HWY 49 along the Yuba river. I would make two trips up here on this trip. The first trip was to see how far the road was open to catch a couple peaks at the creeks up there and how the water was running. The road was open to the Gold Lake Staging Area which has a nice parking area and restrooms. Frankly the snow was so packed I probably could have driven over the snow further up, but not certain that is allowed.
The Gray Eagle creek runs just off the parking lot maybe 75 yards into the trees. An easy walk over the snow showed a great flow of water already coming down the creek early in March. I have not done the trail along Gray Eagle creek yet, but I understand it walks through a pretty diverse forest landscape. On our way back we stopped at a trailhead that went down to a bridge that crossed the creek for the trails. It certainly was a pretty area so I made plans to return in the morning and snowshoe up to Lily Lake.
The Next morning I left early to get up and out before our 11am check out time. From the Staging area, the road was so packed I really didn’t need snowshoes, but sometimes I just keep them on for the workout. What a great morning hike up to the lake. Not certain of the distance all though it cant be much more than 1.5 miles. The road climbed steadily and the mountainsides provided a cool cover from the morning sun.
As I approached Lily Lake the sun just started to peak over the crest and provide a little warmth and added beauty to the area. As I dropped down into Lily lake the steep terrain made me glad I had my snowshoes on, all though I probably looked a little like bigfoot gaining speed going down slope, Lilly lake covered in snow was still spectacular. There were just a couple spots where the snow had melted down to the water line, but over all there is still a couple feet of snow and ice on the lake. On the way back up to the road I got my first reminder that I was in Mountain Lion country. Very fresh morning tracks just below the road. I had seen bear tracks that were a week old earlier on trek, so it looks like the wildlife is ready for spring in the region.
Time was short for me today so we headed back to the car and didn’t stick around to find the cat. I am pretty certain my dog would have been meal size.
Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl and Jamison Creek – Plumas-Eureka State Park
Later in the afternoon we made our way out to Plumas-Eureka State Park area to check out the Jamison creek are and the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl. Home of the Longboard Races in the Sierra each year, we just missed this years annual event. But the view from the Ski area was spectacular as I climbed up to one of the old Ski hut buildings near one of the old chair lifts.
Scenic Afternoon Drives
On our visit we also indulged a couple scenic drives. First a trip between Clio to Portola. (The Portola Mcleans Rd.) this is a fantastic little drive as it climbs up on the ridge above Clio giving you great views of the River and Clio Trestle before driving you by The inn at Nakoma and on into Portola.
One our second rip we traveled out to Sierra Ville and the Sierra Valley area to check out the sights. We also drove this way home which cave us multiple opportunities to stop by the river and let the dog run a bit as well as see lake Tahoe on our way home.
Over all we have a great weekend getaway for our anniversary in Graeagle. Definitely high on our list to return and experience more local lifestyle.