For many of us, spring brings visions of longer, well-lit afternoons of foot-powered travel and the excitement of seeing our ubiquitous woolly mule’s ears flash their first official, solid-gold confirmation of hiking season.
You say your hiking buddies aren’t ready to ditch KT-22 just yet? That’s why we have dogs: they’re more loyal, in better shape, and never complain about pre-dawn starts.
HERE ARE SOME LOCAL, DOG-FRIENDLY QUICK TRIPS:
Pacific Crest Trail between Old 40 and I-80; mileage varies
Start from the Summit Haus, Sugar Bowl’s outdoor café on Old 40, just past Rainbow Bridge on the left, or the PCT trailhead at I-80’s Boreal exit. On 40, the PCT picks up across the street.
It’s only a few miles between the two points, but this is about exploring “local” trails that lead to Flora and Azalea lakes, both hard to see from the famed long-distance track. Accessible, safe scrambling is found along the granite ramps and ridges that rest on the summit. Dogs have ample opportunity to thrash in the water, and being off the main trail means less chance of bothering someone who loves hiking — but maybe not dogs. You can return the same way you came or shuttle vehicles between the two trailheads.
Granite Chief Trail — Shirley Canyon; 4+ miles roundtrip
Park at the Squaw Valley Conference Center near the ropes course. The trail starts next to the fire department.
Less hectic than Shirley Canyon Trail, this route traipses through thickets of cooling lupine, stoic Jeffery Pines, and snaking creeks. It thrills with inspiring views of the rocky, ever-changing canyon. Dogs dig the chance to do less damage on the eons-tough granite, and the climb will leave you both panting. It’s roughly two miles to the ridge and the PCT intersection.
Euer Valley Loop — Tahoe Donner; approximately 6 miles
Park at the Alder Creek Adventure Center, not the entrance gate. Start just inside the gate at the end of Alder Creek Road.
Follow the two-track Euer Valley Road, looping around, down, and across its incredible namesake valley. Respect mountain bikers darting out of the single-track, and stroll into the Euer family’s expansive old grazing meadow. Take North Euer Valley to Coyote Crossing, where dogs can romp in gentle spring currents and roll in sandy banks. Pick up South Euer Valley Road above Coyote Hut, and follow it back to the gate.
Love hiking with your dog?
• Always — always — pack out their poop
• Reduce impact on wildlife
• Minimize off-trail travel
• Respect other hikers; keep your dog leashed if not under control
• Carry first aid supplies; consider taking a class