Monday, June 25, 2012

From Stateline to the Tahoe Rim Trail: Van Sickle Trail

The Van Sickle Trail connects Stateline in Nevada and South Lake Tahoe in California with Heavenly and the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). The trail has been designed for mountain biking, hiking and equestrian sports. Although it is a connector trail between Lake Tahoe basin and the ridge and loop trails in the Carson Range around Heavenly Village and Daggett Pass, the Van Sickle Trail will delight you with a great outdoor experience even if you are only planning for a short walk: from Heavenly (Kingsbury South) to the first trail sections that offer stunning views of Lake Tahoe and surrounding Sierra peaks; or from Stateline to the waterfall (3/4 mi)—an easy to moderate climb between outcrops, boulders and through open manzanita and pine forest. Infrequently, wind from the west may carry to your ears the sound of the Heavenly Gondolas passing supporting towers.

The picture shows a westward view from an upper Van Sickle Trail spot to the Desolation Wilderness and Crystal Range, still covered with snow (June 16, 2012). The total trail length (one way) is about 3.5 miles. Until recently, the middle section of the trail was still under construction and smoothening work, yet open for “traffic.” The Van Sickle Park and Trail was opened in summer last year [1-2]. The South Tahoe Area Trail Map shows how this trail is linked with other multi-use trails, dirt roads and bike trails in South Lake Tahoe and the Heavenly Mountain Resort [3].

Getting to the lower trailheads
From Highway 50 in Stateline, Nevada, turn into Heavenly Village Way. Walk or drive through the wide-spread village and mall neighborhood to get to the intersection of Heavenly Village Way with Montreal Road (right side) and Lake Parkway (left side), where you should see a boulder with “Van Sickle Bi-State Park” written on it. Get straight into the Park, pass the interpretive area with the barn and continue until the paved road ends into a turn-around loop and parking area. The trailhead is to the right at the beginning of the one-way turning loop. Picnic tables and restrooms are available.
Van Sickle Trail may also be accessed from Saddle Road in South Lake Tahoe, California; but parking space is very limited and there are no restrooms and no trail signs (when visited on June 24, 2014).

Getting to the upper trailhead
The intersection of the Van Sickle Trail with the TRT can be accessed from the Heavenly Resort (Kingsbury South). Starting at the Stagecoach Express ski lift, as described in the East Lake Reservoir hike, take the new westward-going TRT section. There, a signpost indicates that you are half a mile away from the Van Sickle Trail Junction.

References and related pages
[1] Lake Tahoe News: Trail building day ensures July opening for Van Sickle Park [].
[2] California Tahoe Conservancy: Van Sickle Bi-State Park [].
[3] South Tahoe Area Trail Map (From Kingsbury Grade to Highway 89) [].

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