8 Things To Do on a Low Snow Year in Truckee and Lake Tahoe

Best activities in Truckee and Tahoe when there's not a lot of snow

Last winter was epic and full on. We spent our days shoveling, braving the roads to get to the resort on big powder days, and skiing far into the summer months. This winter, we’re praying for a miracle march. While it seems like the rest of the mountain west is enjoy old man winter, we have to get creative and find different ways to play outdoors. So, we know you are wondering…

What can I do around Truckee when there’s no snow?

Instead of boring you with stats about weather patterns, historical snowfall records and other predictions that no one knows will come true…  we’ve got something better.

The Best Things to do in Truckee and Lake Tahoe when there isn’t a lot of Snow!

The Truckee Tahoe region has more year-round outdoor fun than any other ski town…probably anywhere. So check it out and start planning your days! And when you’re here, remember to stop by Tahoe Mountain Sports in Truckee for all of your gear and information needs.

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The view from the sand at Kings Beach State Recreation Area

#1 Run On The Beach

In the winter months, when the sun’s shining and temps are in the 40’s or 50’s, the weather is perfect for running or walking and you’ll often have the trails and beaches to yourself. Head to one of the spots below for the best views of Lake Tahoe or Donner Summit and get your heart rate up on a scenic run.

Where to go:

Going up at Diamond Peak’s Luggi Foeger Uphill Festival

#2 In-Bounds “Backcountry” Skiing

You got all your backcountry skiing gear ready for the season, and now you have no powder fields to explore. Sure, the lifts are running from 8:30-4:00 daily, but that’s just not good enough.

You want a workout, and you want to slap on those climbing skins that hung out in your closet for the past nine months. Skin up the resort! Sugar Bowl and Diamond Peak have uphill policies that allow skiers to hike up groomed runs during specified hours.

Another way to get in a great workout, without schlepping your heavy backcountry set up, is to try out a pair of skimo skis. Not sure what skimo is? Everything you need to know is in this post. It’s an ultralight way to travel in the mountains and will help you get fit for fast and light ventures. You can rent skimo skis at Tahoe Mountain Sports.

#3 Go Ice Skating

Ice skating conditions are superb right now! It’s cold in the morning and warms up nicely by mid-day, making it a great afternoon activity or evening activity. There are two local rinks that rent skates:

If you’ve got your own skates there are other spots to explore although, conditions are always changing so use your best judgment before going out on the ice. A few spots to consider are Prosser Reservoir and Cold Stream Canyon or stop by the shop for more up-to-date information.

#4 Bike or run at Prosser Dam Road

Prosser Dam Road is in great shape right now for walking, running and riding. It’s one of the first places to open up when the snow starts to melt. There are miles of snow-free dirt roads and trails to explore, just make sure to bring a map so you know where you’re going!

Riding a gravel or cross bike out there right now provides for a great workout while avoiding car traffic. Running out there provides for a nice, consistent, mostly flat route.

To learn more about Proser Dam Road routes and current conditions as of February 2020, click here.

#5 Night Riding At Boreal

Ski under the bright lights and Bring your rock skis or the board you don’t mind busting up a bit in case of ultra-thin coverage. Dress extra warm. The runs are short and you’ll spend what can seem like more time on the lift than on the run, so a burlier midlayer jacket and a face mask could come in handy. Go with a group of friends and enjoy super-awesome turns.

Drunken Deer Trail in February

#6 Take A Hike

During low snow years, you can ski in the morning and go hiking in the afternoon with the proper winter hiking clothes and winter hiking shoes. Your favorite trails may or may not be hidden under snow or ice, but you’ll never know until you go! Dress warmly and bring along extra clothing and a headlamp for those shorter days (just in case.) Microspikes or another snow traction device are recommended for icy sections. 

#7 Mid-Winter Disc Golf

Most of the disc golf courses in Tahoe are pretty clear because they’ve had so much time to dry out since our last storm, and most people are in a different mindset this time of year, so you should have the courses pretty much to yourself.

Grab a brightly colored disc driver, or just don’t use white around what remains of snow patches, and try to finish your game before the early winter sunset.

New to disc golf? Here’s a beginner’s how-to guide for the sport. It’s a great pastime – a fun way to hang with your friends, get the dogs out to play, and go for a walk in the woods. Start practicing your game now so you’re spot-on when summer arrives.

#8 Go Rock Climbing

With Bishop, California, only a few hours away the idea of a quick desert escape sounds rather nice. Consider loading up the car and heading south for some car-camping and bouldering at the Buttermilks, followed by a dip in one of the Mammoth Lakes area’s many natural hot springs.

There are also tons of great places to climb nearby, like Donner Summit in Truckee, the Emeralds near Nevada City, and Lover’s Leap near South Lake Tahoe, to name a few. Pick up a climbing guidebook from Tahoe Mountain Sports and see how many problems you can tick off before snow eventually returns!

When the weather is really uncooperative, you can find fantastic climbing indoors at High Altitude Fitness in Incline Village, Nevada. They have an auto-belay/self-belay system so you don’t need a spot, and they set new routes frequently so you never get bored!

Have other ideas for what to do when there’s no snow around Tahoe? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below!



Siobhan works at Tahoe Mountain Sports and currently manages TMS blog content. She loves everything about living in the mountains, from snowy winter days on skis to the hot, dusty trails of the Sierra's in the summer. Favorite activities include skiing, trail running and backpacking.


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