Conquer the Sierra: Take your outdoor experience to the next level on the Tahoe Rim Trail in 2018 | TheUnion.com

Conquer the Sierra: Take your outdoor experience to the next level on the Tahoe Rim Trail in 2018

Laura Petersen
Special to The Union

With a new year comes a new lineup on the Tahoe Rim Trail with guided thru and segment hikes along the 170 mile rim of the Tahoe Basin, guided full moon snowshoe hikes, backcountry camps for youth, wilderness first aid training, panel discussions, snow camping and more.

The Tahoe Rim Trail is a world-class long distance multi-use trail destination that attracts over 400,000 users every year. The Tahoe Rim Trail Association, in partnership with the US Forest Service and Nevada State Parks, built the trail that passes through California and Nevada, six counties, one state park, four National Forests, and three wilderness areas.

"The topography varies as it rises from the lakeshore and climbs gently through forests and meadows to ridges that tower over 8,000 feet. The trail offers solitude and disconnect from the world and a true backcountry experience but also provides the ease and access to the frontcountry," said Justine Lentz, operations and marketing manager for Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

Hiking through Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. In recent years, the demand to secure a spot for the guided hikes on the Tahoe Rim Trail has surged as the 165 Mile Club becomes more coveted. Space is limited to 22 hikers for weekly guided segment hikes and 24 hikers for the guided thru hike.

Last year, the segment hike program sold out in 31 minutes and the thru hike program sold out in four minutes. Segment hikes total 11 guided day hikes throughout the season.

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Potential applicants must fill out a medical and hiking experience questionnaire to ensure the physically demanding program is the right fit for them. The programs are designed for intermediate to experienced hikers who are ready to take things to the next level with assistance or don't yet feel confident enough to go alone.

All participants are expected to hike an average of 2.5 miles an hour — upwards of 25 miles a day. Thru hikers will hike more than 170 miles in 14 days with significant altitude gain and upwards of 30 pounds in their pack. The highest peak on the trail is Relay Peak at 10,338 feet.

Investing in the expense of guided outings provides security for some — shuttle transportation, knowledge of the trail, food and water drops, and other logistics will be taken care of.

Participants are still required to carry their own gear, set up their tents and cook their meals. The bucket list trips have attracted people from as far away as Switzerland and Jamaica.

"Hiking around Lake Tahoe in its entirety is a quintessential Tahoe experience. Immersing yourself in nature with 14 like-minded people allows a hierarchy of connection unlike anything you've experienced during a typical vacation. The bonds and camaraderie that is formed is lasting," said Lentz.

All the proceeds go back into protecting the trail and enhancing user experiences.

For those looking to tackle the Tahoe Rim Trail piece-by-piece, shorter distance guided day hikes are available each month featuring history, iconic landmarks, breathtaking views, and blooming wildflowers.

This June, Tahoe Rim Trail Association will host a Backpacking 101 course.

Learn more and register for hikes and outdoor skills classes at tahoerimtrail.org.

Do you have an outdoor story that you want to share? Contact outdoor writer Laura Petersen at laurapetersen310@gmail.com or 913-3067.