Mary West: Exploring Burton Creek State Park
Imagine six miles of trail in alpine forest to wander, almost to yourself. I found all this and more at Burton Creek State Park just outside of Tahoe City.
No big State Park sign will help you find this park so have directions before you go. In Placer County near Truckee I took Interstate 80 E to exit 185 CA-89 S in Truckee. Go through Tahoe City to Highway 28 (N Lake Blvd). Stay on 28 (N Lake Blvd). Past Rocky Ridge Road and directly across the street from Star Harbor make the left into the park. The dirt road leads to ample parking. Head up a gentle hill and around the gate and enjoy.
I wanted an area that gave me the social distance I needed to relax in nature. This park offered plenty of room to roam. I did see other hikers and mountain bikers but the numbers were minimal compared to other more popular parks in our region. Finding open space is getting more challenging as people are looking to get outside during this unique time in our lives with COVID-19, impacting many lower elevation hiking trails.
The trails are wide and cover six miles of the south facing slopes of the north shore of the Tahoe Basin. I enjoyed the smell of pine and when a late summer storm passed through, the smell of rain on the forest floor was pure perfume.
As heat, wind and lack of precipitation dry out lower elevation trails, the flowers still bloom in higher elevations around Tahoe. In fall, the cottonwoods change color and the sound of the wind through the yellow leaves is music to my ears.
It was nice to wander among the towering trees with no destination in mind other than to be out on the trails. Burton Creek was dry when I went through and so were the many tributaries I crossed, but I didn’t mind. I cannot offer a river, a waterfall or a view front the top, but for me I was there for peace and quiet among the trees and Burton Creek State park delivered.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. 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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