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Stories from the valley

Early-winter Outing in Hope Valley

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

Winter has returned to the Sierra. We’ve finally received some needed snowfall, and with more on the horizon, Hope Valley is a wonderful destination for exploration and winter activities.

Last weekend I happily responded to a spontaneous invitation to join a friend for a trip to Hope Valley, traveling up Highway 50 in separate cars for safety’s sake. I was pleasantly surprised by the two to three feet of snow at Echo Summit. Continuing across Highway 88 to Hope Valley, I was greeted by a beautifully snow-carpeted landscape with adequate snow for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

people snowshoeing through Hope Valley

I’ve previously blogged about enjoying Hope Valley in the winter and invite you to click here for that overview of activities. However, this year I’m striving to venture into new areas of Hope Valley I haven’t explored previously. Such was the purpose of this trip.

After parking along the road near Picketts Junction where Highway 89 intersects Highway 88, I donned my skis and headed east. In the past, I’ve always skied on the major valley floor, but today my friend and I headed up the eastern slopes.

people snowshoeing through Hope Valley

We paralleled a creek as we headed through a mixed forest of pines and cedars. The gentle uphill slope was easily managed, and the views of the Carson Pass area were breathtaking. Few people were out, so appropriate social distancing was no problem.

We continued for about an hour and a half and found a beautiful lunch spot at the base of three massive cedars. Reclining under these trees while being warmed by the sun and enjoying the panorama of peaks at the Carson Summit was wonderful. Skiing downhill back to the car was a great end to a first winter outing.

people snowshoeing through Hope Valley

Picketts Junction in Hope Valley is located about 110 miles east of Sacramento. If you need to rent equipment, Hope Valley Outdoors operates a yurt at the junction where you can rent cross-country skiing and snowshoeing equipment. For more information, please click here.

I hope you get to head out and explore this wonderful spot while making your own trails.