Editor’s Note: See Julie Brown’s story, ‘New Blood in Tahoe City,’ for an in-depth look at how Tahoe City is thriving despite its problems.
Ah, the joys of the friendly neighborhood competition between Tahoe City and Truckee. The rivalry has been going on since I was a kid, and who knows, perhaps it may never end. North Tahoe and Truckee are both great places to live in the mountains, but as Truckee has grown, many folks in Tahoe City have become frustrated with a perceived lack of respect for our town by our neighbor to the north. So perhaps I can provide a bit of information on why we love Tahoe City.
The best thing about Tahoe City is that it is right on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Sure, Truckee is only 15 miles from Tahoe, but in Tahoe City the waves lap onto Commons Beach right in the middle of town. Hey, Salinas is nice, but wouldn’t you rather be right on the shores of Monterey Bay? You can call yourself Tahoe Donner but you are still in Truckee. You can call yourself Northstar-at-Tahoe but you are still at Northstar-at-five-miles-outside-of-Truckee. You can call yourself Reno-Tahoe Airport and you are still in Reno, Nev., 45 miles from Tahoe. There must be a reason why everything from cookies to cars to airports wants to be called Tahoe.
Speaking of Commons Beach, it’s an awesome place to dance away a Sunday afternoon listening to a concert, unload your kayak for a jaunt on the lake, or pick up some fresh produce at the farmers market. Where else can you purchase organic strawberries and 60 seconds later be swimming in the refreshing waters of Lake Tahoe?
In Tahoe City, all that fun lake stuff is right here: kayak, canoe, waterski, wakeboard, sunset cruise, or take a dip in the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe. Then you could also just sit on the beach, letting the drool of total relaxation run down your chin, as you are mesmerized by snowcapped Freel Peak towering above our cobalt-blue lake.
Two major bike trails begin in Tahoe City. You can cruise by the people-watching extravaganza that is Truckee River rafting, or follow the shoreline in and out of lovely coves to Meeks Bay. Looking for a more adventurous ride? Pass sparkling creeks as you climb up Ward or Blackwood canyons, or just go for it and pedal all the way around the lake. Want to go for a hike? The Tahoe Rim Trail passes right through the edge of town on its 165-mile journey around the lake.
Two miles from Tahoe City is Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area. With incredible grooming and a passel of locals who hit the trails four or five days a week, this is Tahoe City’s winter gathering spot. Tahoe XC’s Strider-Gliders preschool to fifth grade afterschool program grew from 150 to 260 kids this year. After fifth grade, they can move up to the popular North Tahoe Middle and High school teams; the Tahoe XC trails back up to the schools’ parking lot. When the snow finally melts, the trails, alive with lupine and mule ears, become perhaps the best place to mountain bike in Tahoe. Then again, others are more partial to the network of trails that start just outside town and wind around Page Meadows.
So we have the amenities that come with being right next to Lake Tahoe, but what about the town itself? Since the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has severely restricted development in the Tahoe Basin, mega builders have shuttled on down the road to Truckee. While Truckee got a lot of new, expensive golf course–based development and a whole lot more second homes, growth in Tahoe City has been slower, keeping its small town feel. Over the last 10 years, Tahoe City has been sprucing itself up, with new sidewalks, improvements to Commons Beach, and the addition of Heritage Plaza, a great little place to enjoy the lake view or light a Christmas tree in the center of town. Kids can still walk or ride their bikes to Tahoe Lake School, just like they did when I was a kid, or stroll to the beach on the Fourth of July to join the crowds watching the fireworks reflected in Tahoe’s calm waters.
Businesses grow, change, die, and are replaced by others. Many of the enterprises that were here 10 years ago are gone now, and a whole new slew of businesses has risen up to take advantage of the opportunities. In fact, Tahoe City is abuzz with new activity. Walk down the second floor hallway of the Cobblestone center’s back building some weekday evening and you pass by a dance class of talented ballerinas, a busy martial arts dojo, and a room full of limber yogis at the Tahoe Yoga Institute — all businesses that moved here within the last few years.
No, Tahoe City is not dead. It’s just a terrific little town perched on the edge of one of the prettiest darn lakes in the world, waiting for ya’ll to come on down and take a look. If you’re not here, you’re missing something special.
~ Tim Hauserman has lived in Tahoe City forever. He thinks Truckee is a nice town as well and hopes he will still be allowed to visit. What’s your opinion? Tahoe City, Truckee, both, or neither? Comment on this column below.