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Colorful Tahoe: 5 Awesome Things To Do In Tahoe During Autumn

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

This blog comes from Scott Johns, an adventure cinematographer, mountain biker and snowboarder living in Incline Village on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. When Scott’s not creating beautiful imagery for video, he’s out ripping singletrack or shredding big lines in his backyard that we call the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Find more of Scott’s work at


A quick explosion of color followed by a thick blanket of snow. That’s how fall goes in Tahoe. When we get the winters we hope for, that is. The first part of the equation is already under way. Here are my top five things to do in Tahoe during fall. Other than snow dancing, of course.

1) Sierra Nevada Color Safari

Since we only get one chance at this each year, it’s first on our list. Tahoe is all about breathtaking scenery, and fall is no exception. Arguably the most beautiful time of year, here are some of the best places to take it all in. Hike, get great photos or just sit and stare for awhile.

Tahoe Fall Colors:

-Blackwood Canyon, south of Tahoe City on Hwy 89.
– Paige Meadows, near Tahoe City.
– Anywhere near Fallen Leaf Lake/Tallac/Angora Lake.
– Brockway pass along Hwy 267. As the colors peak, you’ll see several painters stationed here, capturing the image on their canvases.

Surrounding Fall Colors:

– Hope Valley, near Carson Pass.
– June Lake, near Mammoth Lakes.
– Aspen groves on the downhill (Hwy 395) from Bridgeport to Mono Lake. Get great views from the highway, or take a short adventure to Travertine Hot Springs.


Not a photography aficionado, but still want to capture the experience with some great images? A professional photographer recently told me that the camera is the least important part of the equation. You don’t need a Nikon D1 to shoot fall colors like a pro. I get great shots with my GoPro HERO3 Black Edition. Use GoPro’s Tripod Mount with the compact Joby Gorillapod Camera Tripod and your crystal clear images will have your friends convinced you are a pro.


2) Mountain Biking Tahoe’s Trails

Summer is great for mountain biking in Tahoe, but fall is better. Trails are less crowded. The scenery becomes even more beautiful. And the occasional rain and cooler temperatures keep the dust down. Biking is my favorite fall activity, by far. So much so that it even saddens me when the snow begins to cover the trails. But only until it’s deep enough to shred.

Spent all summer getting into optimum cycling shape? Here are some killer pedals to conquer, with big payoffs:

– Hole in the Ground, a long loop near Boreal ski area – painful and serene, all at once.
Flume Trail/Rim Trail Loop in reverse, from Spooner to Marlette to the flume – this is the best way to do it. You’ll probably need a cold beer, followed immediately by your bed.
-Rim Trail, Brockway Summit to Mt. Baldy – a demanding climb, but very rewarding. Going the other way from Brockway to Watson Lake is also a fantastic ride, and very hard work.
-The Bench Trail – conquer this one from either side, Spooner or Kingsbury, or get them both in one ride if you’re feeling savage.

Don’t forget your CamelBak bike backpack with lots of water, and an extra layer. You’ll be hot when you’re pedaling, but you’ll want to manage that sweat so it doesn’t turn you into a cyclisticle through the exposed zones and downhills. A spare tube, bike pump and tire levers are also more important during fall, when you are less likely to cross paths with good Samaritans out on the trail.


3) Lake Tahoe Disc Golf

I learned this isn’t just a warm-weather activity two winters ago when mother nature forgot to drop any snow on Tahoe until March. (more…)

Tahoe’s Best In Fall – Hikes, Bikes, Climbs, Fishing, Photos, Ski Porn

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

With a change in the seasons comes a change in the weather, activities and attitude. You’ll want to be warm and comfortable so you can stay outside and make the most of each day. It’s time to start thinking soft, toasty, cozy and colorful!

Prana, Horny Toad and Ibex all make comfortable clothing meant for moving, stretching, climbing or just getting comfortable in cool weather. If you’ve never worn sheepskin boots, you’ve got to try a pair of Sorel or Ugg boots. You’ll really be in for a treat! They specialize in warm and comfortable footwear, both casual and classy.

Places to view and photograph fall foliage in Tahoe and the surrounding Sierras:

Aspens in Tahoe

Aspens in Tahoe make for great photographs.

Tahoe Area:

-Blackwood Canyon, south of Tahoe City on Hwy 89.
– Paige Meadows, near Tahoe City.
– Anywhere near Fallen Leaf Lake/Tallac/Angora Lake.
– We can’t list all these locations without including the awesome display of color just outside of Kings Beach, north of Brockway pass along Hwy 267.

Fall Photoshoot in Tahoe

Fall Photoshoot

Surrounding Areas:

– Hope Valley, near Carson Pass.
– June Lake, near Mammoth Lakes.
– Aspen groves on the downhill (Hwy 395) from Bridgeport to Mono Lake. There are great views from the highway, or go a little further and enjoy them from the Travertine Hot Springs.
– Non-native maples were even planted somewhere in Little Yosemite Valley. You just may feel super-human after capturing these in their full color scheme.

Do you have enough camera equipment to necessitate a camera-specific backpack? The DaKine Sequence Photo Pack protects your gear and keeps it all organized so you can swap lenses and access your other equipment quickly and easily. If you really want to suck in the fall colors, you may need to keep your shutter open longer than usual for daytime shots. Do you have a tripod to keep your camera steady? Did you know they make tripods for point-and-shoot, handheld cameras? We carry Joby Gorillapod Camera Tripods to help you avoid those blurry, unattractive photographs. They go anywhere, wrap around anything you can imagine, and pack away in a small pocket.


Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing Tahoe Trad

Trad Climbing is Groovy.

– There is tons of sweet bouldering at DL Bliss State Park, located north of Emerald Bay.
Donner Pass has many options for sport and trad climbing, as well as places where you can hike around a top-rope.
– Lover’s Leap, near Strawberry, has some of the best moderate-level granite in the country. Sheer cliffs with multi-pitches for sport and trad climbing provide options for all-day adventure.
– Bishop is known across the country, and even the world, for having lots of great bouldering. The Buttermilks have a lot of V7 problems, and the weather nicer in the desert during the winter months, making for a good escape from the mountains when the temps get low.
– The Owens River Gorge, north of Bishop, has some of the best sport climbing in the country.
– Some days call for indoor climbing, found locally at both High Altitude Fitness in Incline Village and the bouldering gym at Truckee Sports Exchange.

Need a belay? How about harnesses, shoes or ropes? We carry climbing gear from Black Diamond, shoes from La Sportiva, and more! And don’t go without your guidebook! Pick up a copy of the Locals Guide To Rock Climbs Of North Tahoe or the High Sierra Climbing Guide.



Golden Trout, Fly Fishing In Tahoe

A beautiful Golden Trout, photo courtesy of Maher’s Guide Service.

While a lot of other activities slow down in the fall, the fish are hungry and insects are hatching, so fly fishing is prime! In fact, October and November are some of the best times of year to fish the Truckee River and surrounding waters. We have warm hats, utility knives, waterproof pants, base layers and warm socks to keep you cozy on those cold mornings along the creek. Local Fly Guide Chris Maher even claims that his Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody is his favorite warm top when fly fishing in cold weather.

Brown Trout Fishing, Tahoe In Fall

TMS Employee Ryan shows off a lovely and difficult catch – a Brown Trout. Photo via Maher’s Guide Service.


Hiking & Biking:

Tahoe is full of trails for hiking and biking. This area is literally almost full. An optimist might say this cup is “overflowing”. The Tahoe Rim Trail travels the perimeter of the lake, and there is an abundance of “trail-butaries” that flow toward or away from the lake and the surrounding roads. There are just too many options for trail travel to bother listing them here. Plus, who wants to give away their greatest secrets?

Mountain Biking Trails Tahoe

Whipping through trees and rocks on a mountain bike is exhilarating!

You may want to pick up a few important items before you hit the hills. Check out the National Geographic Ultimate Outdoor Trail Kit – and take any trail map with you, anywhere you go. Access maps and pinpoint your location with GPS, even when you’re out of range of a signal! Or pick up a map of the Lake Tahoe Basin, and get out there and see it all for yourself. Hydration Packs are a great way to carry your water conveniently in a water bladder inside your backpack, along with another layer, trail snacks, a camera and your other accessories. The SteriPen fits in a pocket and uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilize a full liter of water in just 90 seconds, so you can drink it safely and keep moving forward.


Ski Conditioning: 

As the winter months approach and we begin to think more on snow-terms, we tend to get a bit excited. Many of the more serious skiers and snowboarders in Tahoe are elite athletes who train vigorously for the upcoming season. Yoga and other core-strengthening exercises are popular in mountain towns, along with running, biking and other cardiovascular activities. We carry clothing made for working out from brands like Prana and Horny Toad – they specify in yoga clothing and climbing clothing.

Getting into gear for a winter filled with moguls and backcountry skiing!



Watching countless hours of Snow Porn:Attack Of La Nina - Matchstick Films

We can’t compile a list of the best things to do in Tahoe, or any mountain town for that matter, without including ski porn. The off-season is when we rummage through stacks of old ski and snowboard movies. We pull out the oldies and the OG’s, and we attend premiers for new flicks from the top film makers. Luckily we have the latest prized jewels, like TGR’s One For The Road, Sherpa Cinemas’ All I Can, and Attack of La Nina from MatchStick Productions. And you know for darn sure we’ll soon have TGR’s latest Jeremy Jones’ Further and The Dream Factory.








Joby Gorillapod Camera Tripod
Joby Gorillapod Camera Tripod
MSRP: $24.95
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
MSRP: $99.95


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