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Stories from the valley

Hope Valley: A Winter Paradise

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

Known for its fall beauty ablaze with golden aspen, Hope Valley should not be overlooked as a wonderful place for a winter getaway. Free of congestion caused by downhill ski areas, Hope Valley is a wide-open space that calls to cross-country skiers and snowshoers alike.

Steeped in history, Hope Valley served as a major thoroughfare during the post-Gold Rush days. More than 200,000 immigrants passed through the valley and over Carson Pass between 1849 and 1851. In the summer, the wagon tracks from these pioneers are still visible.

The valley runs for several miles, and there are many turnouts for parking. Once you’ve chosen a spot to leave your vehicle, it’s just a matter of getting geared up and heading out. There are some trails that lead into the backcountry to great views and hidden lakes. But there’s fun to be had just making your own trail while viewing the towering peaks of Carson Pass.

After an enjoyable day outdoors, a good place to eat is the restaurant at Sorensen’s Resort. Nestled in the Carson River Valley, Sorensen’s Country Café is known for tasty food and a nice atmosphere.

If you don’t have equipment and want to try out winter activities, Hope Valley Outdoors operates a yurt and rents cross-country skis and snowshoes. Their big white circular tent is located at the junction of Highways 88 and 89, and their phone number is (530) 721-2015.

To get to Hope Valley from Jackson, drive east on Highway 88. Once you go over Carson Pass, you’ll have a spectacular view of the valley. You can also reach Hope Valley by driving up Highway 50 to Meyers, and then turning right (south) on Highway 89. 

I hope you have a wonderful time exploring this real gem of the Sierra.