California Sierras Camping – Lower Blue Lake and Highland Lakes – Hiking to Granite Lake

Last Sunday and Monday nights Duke and I went camping south of Lake Tahoe in the Sierras. The skies were smoke free and the scenery was stunning.

Sunday we camped in Middle Creek campground just below Upper Blue Lake. Our campsite was right next to a stream. We could see little fish jumping in the nearest pool.

Our campsite in Middle Creek campground

After setting up camp we hiked to nearby Granite Lake.

On the trail to Granite Lake
Granite Lake

Monday we drove to the Highland Lakes area just south of Ebbett’s Pass. We had another great campsite. We could see the lake in the distance.

Our campsite at Highland Lakes Campground
Highland Lake

The drive home on Tuesday took us about two hours. Reno and our house are totally buried in smoke from the wildfires near us and in California.

The only bad thing about this trip was that the battery in our new Ford truck was dead both mornings. The truck had to be jump started. We have an appointment to take it in for repairs in a couple of weeks.

Mulligan on the AT raising money for Evergreen ALS

My brother is hiking the Appalachian trail. He has already completed over 1,600 miles and has a bit more than 500 to go. His trail name is Mulligan.  He has a wonderful YouTube channel where he has documented his hike. I have been thoroughly enjoying hiking vicariously with him.

The easiest way to find his videos is to search for Mulligan on the AT or if you follow this link you will go to his day 109 video. From there you can find his other videos too.

In 2016 our sister Barbara was diagnosed with ALS. My brother is raising money to support the ALS Evergreen Chapter ( Barb’s Brother ). Use the link on the top right of his home page ( ALS Evergreen Chapter Donation ) or the link in bottom right hand corner of the channel cover picture to donate.


Hiking the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway Upstream from Verdi

As you come into Reno on Interstate 80 from California the freeway follows the Truckee River. Over the last few weeks Duke, Vicky and I have been hiking along the river. The trail we have been hiking is part of the Tahoe Pyramind Bikeway which will eventually cover the entire 116 mile length of the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake.

TP-Bikeway Duke and Marion

Most of the river between Truckee and the Nevada border used to be pretty much inaccessible. But in 2003 The Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway organization  was created and so far they have completed almost 75% of the bikeway.

The first stretch that starts into the mountains from Verdi to about the Nevada border is closed right now so that The Truckee Meadows Water Authority can bypass a 2,000-foot section of the existing wooden flumes with a combination of new transition flume, canal, and tunnel.

Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway1

 Our first hike was on  the section of the bikeway above the closure. Getting to this section is a bit tricky. We went up 80 to the Farad exit, got off the freeway and did a u-turn to get back on 80 going downstream. In 2.8 miles we parked on a wide dirt shoulder. From there we hiked down to a new pedestrian suspension bridge over the river and then upstream to the end of the current trail. 

Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway2


Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway3


Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway4


Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway5

Our second hike was from Farad upstream about 2.5 miles to Floristan and back. The trail includes a bridge over the intake pipes to the old hydroelectric plant.

TP Bikeway old power plant

It was surprising to me that although the trail is very close to the freeway and the train tracks we couldn't hear or see the freeway for much of the trail.

Train freeway river

Highlights of the trail were watching the trains, enjoying the fall colors and smells, getting to see the old wooden flumes up close, watching the river and the fishermen and exploring a new trail. I think this trail will be great for snowshoing. Now all we need is snow!

TP-Bikeway Truckee River

Walking across the Tuckee River and Two Hikes Near Lake Tahoe

We live in Reno about 30 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe. At the outlet of Lake Tahoe where the Truckee River starts there is a six foot dam. When the lake is full the top six feet of water are part of the Reno water supply. When the Lake level goes down six feet from its maximum capacity it is at its natural rim. If the water falls below that level no water from Lake Tahoe goes into the Truckee River. This doesn't happen very often but right now the lake is below that natural rim.

Last week we went up to the dam where the Truckee river starts. There was no water coming out and you could walk across the river bed. It was pretty amazing.

Truckee River empty

 After checking out the empty river we went about 7 miles north  to do a hike to an area called Five Lakes. We started near the Alpine Meadows ski area and hiked about 1,000 feet up and 2 miles in to the Five Lakes basin. It was bit cool and breezy but a gorgeous spot for a snack and a break.

Five Lakes

A few days later we hiked with Bonnie from Chimney Beach on the east side of Lake Tahoe to Marlette Lake. It was another absolutely gorgeous Fall day, perfect for hiking. The hike was strenuous, six miles  and 1,500 feet elevation gain. Although I was really worn out at the end, the views of both Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake, the Fall colors and hiking with Duke and Bonnie made it a perfect outing.

2014-10-18 15.37.46

Camping – Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park and Columbine Campground

Last week Duke and I did a two night camping trip in central Nevada. From Reno we headed east on Highway 50. Just past Fallon Naval Air Station there is sign which points south to earthquake faults. We have been wanting to explore that road so we headed south. There are some signs along the road explaining that in 1954 a big earthquake in this area uplifted the ground as much as 20 feet. Although the uplift is covered by vegetation now you can still see it. We got out and looked at the fault up close and then drove along it for a ways. In this picture the wavy line in the hills is the uplift along the  fault.


Heading east the map showed a dirt road across the Paradise Range through Germany Canyon. We found the road  and started up it in four wheel drive but it got very steep and there were some land slides across the road. We thought we were near the top but after getting out to survey the road ahead we decided to turn around. In the picture below you can see where we stopped the truck.


We went south a bit and took the paved road across the Paradise Range. We camped for the night at Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park in the next mountain range to the east. It was a beautiful night and there was only one other camper in the whole campground.


During the Triassic period 200 million years ago the park was under a shallow ocean. The ichthyosaur was a giant marine reptile that resembled a dolphin. Some of the ichthyosaur fossils found here were left in place and covered with a barn like structure. Last time we were at this park we just looked in the windows. It was difficult to know what we were looking at. This time the building was open and we took a tour. The giant ichthyosaur fossils are pretty amazing. The round rocks you see in the picture are vertebrae.


After the tour we headed east. Our second night was spent at the National Forest Service Columbine Campground at the edge of the Arc Dome Wilderness. The campground is set beside Stewart Creek in a big aspen grove. We had a few rain showers but they didn’t last long. Columbine campground is one of my favorite places to camp.


Before heading home we hiked up the Stewart Creek Trail towards Arc Dome for a couple of hours. Some day I would like to do the whole hike. It would be an all day adventure. According to the book 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada the Stewart Creek Loop Trail is 8 miles long and has 2500 feet of elevation gain, The hike to the top of Arc Dome is 3 miles out and back from the loop trail.



 On the way home we found another impassable road, turned around and found a wonderful four wheel drive road across the ridge top of the Shoshone Mountains. The first picture is the road in Bonita Canyon where we decided to turn around. The second picture is from the road at the top of the Shoshone Mountains.



If you would like to see all the pictures from this trip they are on Flickr here.