An Afternoon Snowshoe Adventure on the Trail of Champions
Tahoma Ca, – Lake Tahoe- State Parks – The Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine State park is easy groomed trail experience in winter good for all skill levels of cross country skiing, snowshoeing or different types of Nordic skills. The Tahoe sugar pines and lush forests lining General’s creek provide a beautiful winter backdrop for a day in the mountains.
This weekend in Lake Tahoe the weather on the lake started foggy and cold and as the day warmed the blue skies emerged and the conditions for outdoor recreation was exceptional. After spending the morning at Palisades and their grand opening of the Base To base Gondola, I took the opportunity to travel the West side of the Lake Tahoe looking for an opportunity to discover more areas of winter recreation in Lake Tahoe.
After a quick stop at the Blackwood Canyon Snow park just north of Homewood, I decided that there was too much snowmobile action in that canyon and headed further south. Ed Z’berg state park has been on my radar for some time, but always seems just out of my perimeter for a quick day trip adventure in the past. Located in Tahoma on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, Ed Z’berg state park has a lot of local history. What I was not aware of is its place in the Olympic history of Lake Tahoe. The 1960 Winter games, most recognizably identified with Olympic Valley and what is now Palisades Ski resort, help all its Nordic events at Ed’Zberg state park.
Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park contains one of the finest remaining natural areas on Lake Tahoe. With nearly two miles of lake frontage, the park has dense forests of pine, fir, aspen and cedar. Across Hwy 89 the park is now home to a large Summer Campground and trail system that takes visitors back in to the canyon to follow General’s Creek and the old Nordic Event center trails. In winter these trails are groomed in a three color system Blue, Red and Green for all styles of Nordic skiing, Snowshoeing, Fat Tire bike riding etc.
On this trip I followed the Blue line back out of the parking area as it meandered through he camping area until I hit the red line which heads west into the canyon to a generals creek bridge crossing and later the Nordic Event region. The Tale sugar pines and cedar forest still covered in frozen snow from last weeks storms were stunning and the groomed trail was a bit crunchy from the daily melt and freeze created in the Tahoe weather pattern of the past week.
The bridge crossing region of General Creek was a highlight area for me ad taking the opportunity to go off trail at the creek and follow the ridgeline for a bit was a perfect afternoon adventure. I saw a total of three other individuals on this day at the part, a solo-female snowshoer, a split-board skier and a gentleman on his fat tire bike enjoying the afternoon blue bird skies.
The Blue Route at the park is roughly a 2 mile loop that stays int he campground area, while the Ed line loops around General Creek for an additional 3 mile loop past the campground. the General Creek crossing is less than a half mile past the campground / exit of the blue line and also gives you access to an ungroomed green line which will traverse the canyon walls on the south side of Generals creek back toward HWY 89. this section is intended to be an out and back section but based on the area I would assume an area where much off trail experience occurs.
The Forest has been well maintained with fire suppressing activities making visibility into the forest easy and inviting for those who wish to leave the groomed trail experience. to my surprise there was very little off trail evidence however in the park. I ventured off trail on my trip back to follow the ridge along General Creek and found it a much more pleasant snowshoe experience than the groomed trail, but that may indeed be a personal preference.
On this trip I did not make it across the highway to the Shoreside of the park. This is probably the more popular side for recreation and regular visits tot the park as it features two miles of shoreline to Lake Tahoe and groomed Yellow line track to enjoy winter recreation on. Also on the lake side is the Famed tracks in the Water phot opportunity and the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion (also known as Pine Lodge), a summer home built in 1903 in a grove of pine and cedar. From the turn of the century until 1965, the lands of what is now Ed Z’berg – Sugar Pine Point State Park were owned by financier Isaias W. Hellman, and later by his daughter Florence Hellman Ehrman. The mansion provides an interesting view into the lifestyles of the wealthy on Lake Tahoe.
Day pass parking fee of $500 is required to park at the state park.
Facilities – Seasonal Activities
Hiking & Swimming
Many miles of hiking trails within the park and a swimming beach provide visitors with a variety of relaxing summer activities.
Ed Z’berg – Sugar Pine Point State Park is comprised of conifer forests in the General Creek drainage. The waters of General Creek are among the clearest waters flowing into Lake Tahoe and the stream is open to fishing from mid July to mid September. A fishing license is required.
Winter visitors to the park will find over 20 kilometers of marked cross country ski trails and a heated restroom in the General Creek campground. Interpretive presentations on a variety of winter related subjects are presented most weekends, from January through March.
When you’re at Ed Z’berg – Sugar Pine Point State Park, be sure to stop at the Nature Center located in the day use area by the Ehrman Mansion. We now have a bird display, where visitors can view several species of bird life that occur in the Tahoe Basin. In addition to birds, visitors can see most of the mammals and the four major game fish that occur here. Other exhibits include: Biology, Lake Ecology, Wildflowers, Trees, and a “Touchy-feely” table for the kids (adults also!).