Cross Country Skiing & Snow Shoeing
The following article taken from Mountain News.
Cross-country Skiing is an entirely different experience than skiing at a downhill resort. Besides lacking chairlifts, cross-country skiing is a lot less expensive and brings the skier closer to nature and away from the crowds. Cross-country ski resorts offer groomed trails, rentals and gear. Each area sports a unique character, so pick one that suits your needs. Sierra Ski and Cycle Works on Lake Tahoe Blvd rents ski packages for around $15, and you can try them out of the Bijou Golf Course or on the Beach.
Follow 10 kilometers of skier-packed trails along the shore of Lake Tahoe or wind through giant Jeffrey Pines and over gentle hills on the groomed track. Located in teh community of Camp Richardson, just a few miles north fro South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89, this cross-country ski area is close and convenient. Your best bet on a stormy day when the roads are closed. Camp Rich Outdoor Center rents cross-country skis and snowshoes. (530) 542-6584.
Hope Valley Outdoors offers 100 kilometers of marked, skier-packed trails or you can blaze a trail of your own in this beautiful river valley of snow-covered meadows and aspen thickets. There is no cost for trail passes. Full-day ski package rentals (skis, boots and poles) cost about $20 for adults and $10 for kids, and half-day rentals are available for a few bucks less. They also rent snowshoes. Now located in a yurt at the junction of Highway 88 and 89 in the heart of beautiful Hope Valley. (530) 694-2266.
Kirkwood Cross Country offers 80 kilometers of machine groomed skating lanes and double track for diagonal striding. Between the trees, Kirkwood offers great views of volcanic buttes and snow-covered bowls as well as three warming huts. Ski along in a level meadow or test your skills on the intermediate and advanced terrain. Trail passes are $22 for adults and children are just 8 bucks. Located on Highway 88 next to the Kirkwood Inn. (209) 258-7248.
Today's new generation of snowshoes have made it easier than ever to enjoy the outdoors in winter. As a result, snowshoeing has become one of the fastest growing winter sports in the country. Whether you're 8 years old or 80, the only prerequisite is the ability to walk and dress appropriately for Tahoe's weather. It's one of the only sports where one is an intermediate within minutes! Simply put on your favorite pair of winter boots (Sorrels work fine), buckle on your snowshoes (no more old-school straps) and start walking into Tahoe's winter wonderland.
Snowshoes are no longer the wooden "tennis racquets) you see hanging from beams in mountain lodges. Today's' snowshoes have heat-treated aluminum frames that are lighter and stronger. The decks of the shoes are now constructed of materials with names like ArcTec and Hypalon, all of which are more durable and help to provide more flotation than the wicker found on traditional snowshoes. Toe and heel crampons enable you to climb steeper slopes and cross icy areas with confidence. The wide range of models available today means you can find just the right shoe whether you're going around the block or trekking on a serious back-country adventure. Snowshoes have become popular with powder-seeking snowboarders who use them to hike up untamed mountain peaks. Ardent runners and joggers use them to keep up their fitness routine through the winter. Kids can even make animal-like tracks in the snow with paw-shaped snowshoes.
The ability to adapt to a wide variety of snow conditions also helps to increase snowshoeing's appeal. A snowshoe's profile can can provide flotation in deep snow while the crampons bite in on icy compacted surfaces. In low snow times, when it is impossible to cross-country ski, snowshoes can trek over varied terrain of snow patches, hard-pack trails and ice. Said an employee of Camp Richardson Resort: "Snowshoes give people more of a level walking surface and the crampons prevent them from sliding all over the place".
Snowshoes are also easier to master off teh beaten path. The options are endless for excursions but some notable trips would be the Fallen Leaf lake area, Angora Ridge, Eagle Creek canyon, Hope valley, Carson Pass and the Echo Summit Snow Parks.