Day Hiker: Truckee’s Sagehen Trail a Sierra showcase
The Day Hiker
The open meadow of Sagehen Trail is but one reason to make the drive east on Interstate 80 to Truckee.
The wildflowers in their season are another.
Stampede Reservoir spread out at your feet still another. This easy 2.5-mile one-way stroll means many people can enjoy this walk. Being on the east side and home to numerous Poplar trees means it’s an autumn hiking destination as well.
Signage is nonexistent so let my try to narrow it down for you. Take the Sierraville exit north to Highway 89. Go straight through both round-a-bouts toward Sierraville. Look for a concrete bridge 7 to 8 miles up the road marked Sagehen Creek. Look for cars parked off the road near the bridge on both sides. If you get to the Little Truckee River crossing you went too far.
The trail follows the creek and takes you back to Stampede Reservoir and along its length. In mid-June the bright yellow Mountain Mule’s Ear lined the trail and large swaths of the blooms covered parts of the meadow. Butterflies and lizards joined us along the trail with the constant sound of birdsong.
We found a beaver pond, no beavers swimming, but keep an eye out. Once you reach the reservoir and take in the view, take a few steps back and look south for a trail through a group of trees just short of the reservoir. A makeshift creek crossing gets you along side the reservoir and to an even more expansive meadow. Sierra Shooting Stars and creamy white Bistort grows along the narrow streams that lead to the reservoir.
The highlight of this trail, if you hit it at the right time in spring, is seeing the meadow filled with deep purple Quamash Camas Lilies. This is also a good summer trail as it is at 6,000-foot elevation and takes a few degrees off the oppressive valley temperatures.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide. The books are a collection of Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, and favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond (Available on Amazon). West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.
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