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Stories from the valley

Ice House Lake: A Refreshing Spring Getaway

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

Warmer temperatures and spring blossoms are a welcome herald of spring. However, some may still like to have a final taste of winter before the temperatures rise in the summer. Ice House Lake is a great place to enjoy the change of the season.

This is my favorite time of year to visit the Sierra. The warm temperature of the air contrasted with the coolness of the snow is invigorating. With this in mind I headed up to Ice House Lake to enjoy some cross-country skiing. 

Turning off of Highway 50 at Ice House Road, you begin to climb to the summit of Peavine Ridge and immediately are greeted with beautiful views of the South Fork of the American River. As you climb be sure to look across the valley for a horizontal line cutting across the mountain. This is the flume that has conducted water for 150 years to residents of El Dorado County.

person cross country skiing through a forest

You will notice as you climb Ice House Road that all of the trees are the same height. This is because of the disastrous Cleveland Fire in 1992. These trees are Ponderosa pines that were cultivated at the Institute of Forest Genetics for this reforestation project. The institute is a wonderful place to visit where you can walk through an arboretum with coniferous trees from all over the world. Please click here for more information.

Once you reach the top of Peavine Ridge, continue on Ice House Road through a beautiful grove of aspen until you come to Ice House Reservoir-Wrights Lake Road, which is about 1.5 miles past Ice House Resort. Turn right and follow the road to the lake.

We enjoyed a trip on cross-country skis about halfway around the lake, passing through mixed forest of pines and firs. Especially noteworthy were some very large sugar pines, which are not so common. We encountered some folks on snow shoes and others just enjoying the spring thaw with the mottled snow/bare ground landscape.

I hope you get to enjoy this great spring getaway before the crowds flock to this area for the summer season.