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Stories from the valley

Winter Visit to the Tallac Historic Site

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

With the abundance of snow this year, a wonderful short tour at the edge of Lake Tahoe is available for your enjoyment. Just north of Camp Richardson on Highway 89, you’ll find the Tallac Historic Site. This is a collection of historic estates that were frequented by the rich and famous in the early 1900’s. Although winter is not the normal time that people visit the area, skiing or snowshoeing around the old buildings without the presence of the regular-season crowds is a magical experience.

Your trip will begin on Heritage Way, which is the snow-covered road into the park. There will probably be ski or snowshoe tracks for you to follow as you begin the short trek toward Lake Tahoe. As you head through the trees, be sure to look at the snow’s surface for critter tracks, which abound in this area.

About a half mile in, you will arrive at the boundary of the park. Go through the opening in the fence, and you will immediately see the Baldwin House and other historic buildings. As you continue, you will pass the Pope Estate, with its several cottages for staff, two boat houses and more. Valhalla Lodge, often used for weddings and other celebrations during the busy summer months, marks the end of the park, which borders Pope State Beach.

At this point, you can return along your original path, take a less-traveled route directly to the highway or travel along the beach for a while and return along Tallac Road from the beach (about a quarter of a mile west of the estates).

The skill level for this trip is easy, since the entire trail is flat. A packed lunch could be enjoyed in the solitude of this historic setting on the shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe.

To find the trailhead, drive north on Highway 89 from South Lake Tahoe. After you come to Camp Richardson, continue about 0.4 mile farther and look on the right for the Tallac Historic Site sign, which is at the snow-covered road, Heritage Way, mentioned earlier. If you arrive early enough in the day, there is generally parking along Highway 89 or on Fallen Leaf Rd, which is closed in the winter. Otherwise, there is ample parking at the SnoPark about a quarter of a mile farther along Highway 89.