Winter industry: Nordic experience in North Lake Tahoe |

Winter industry: Nordic experience in North Lake Tahoe

Special to NNBW

Cross-country skiing, the most popular form of Nordic skiing, is one of North Lake Tahoe’s biggest draws. Surrounding Sierra Mountains boast the largest concentration of cross country ski areas, groomed trails and snowshoe terrain in North America.

While a majority of downhill ski resorts offer Nordic and/or snowshoe options, there are many opportunities to access backcountry trails on your own, or through rental and tour companies that have experienced guides who are well versed on safety, weather conditions and local secrets.

With world-renowned skiing at Royal Gorge, Tahoe Cross Country Center, and the Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center, Nordic options for the 2016/17 season are limitless.

What’s New for 2016-17

Tahoe City Winter Sports Park is scheduled to open mid-December. This one of a kind, all-inclusive winter recreation facility offers cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and ice-skating at one location. The Park also offers 4km of dog friendly cross country ski trails, a fat tire bike trail and full service restaurant. Night skiing and fire pits open every Saturday; ski trails, snowshoeing and sledding are available daily from 10am-5pm and ice skating is open Sun-Thurs, noon-9pm and Fri-Sat, noon-10pm (weather permitting). The Tahoe XC Ski Trail Pass can also be used at Winter Sports Park Ski Trails (must be used the same day).

Nordic Offerings, Season Passes and General Information

Tahoe XC – Located in Tahoe City, this popular spot offers 24 grooming trails, three warming huts, multiple opportunities to ski with your dog, and a rental department. The season pass, which starts at $249, includes unlimited skiing at Tahoe XC and Tahoe City Winter Ski Park. Purchase soon – prices increase by $50 on November 25. Learn more:

Royal Gorge – This mecca of cross-country skiing in the Sierra (and beyond) is home to 200 kilometers of groomed trails spread across 6,000 acres of varied terrain. Adult passes for ages 23 – 64 start at $319. Cross-country enthusiasts can also bring the whole family, as children 12 and under and Seniors 75 and older now have access to the 2016/2017 Unrestricted XC Season Pass. Learn more:

Northstar California – In addition to more than 35 kilometers of scenic groomed trails, the Cross Country, Telemark, and Snowshoe Center offers rental equipment, daily lessons, and incredible snowshoe tours. Lesson, rental, and trail pass packages start at $199 for adults, free for children 12 and under. Learn more:

Tahoe Donner – This family-friendly, world class cross country ski area weaves through 100 kilometers of trails and meadows, complete with scenic rivers and streams that make for a truly enjoyable Nordic experience. Early season rates are valid through Nov. 30. New this winter, the Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area is offering a snowshoe-only season pass and a fat bike season pass on sale for $200 each. Guests under the age of 6 always ski free and seniors over 60 receive discounted passes at both resorts. Guests ages 70 and older ski free at the downhill area. Learn more:

Auburn Ski Club – With 20 kilometers of groomed trails, this center offers a masters training (weekly training group) and citizen races, designed for skiers to test their technique and fitness. It also offers memberships including five free nights at Boral Mountain Resort and sells Trail Pass tickets starting at $99 for adults 18-69. The combined Alpine, Nordic, Biathalon and Snowboard training center helps fund junior programs and is a non-profit facility dedicated to teaching others the enjoyment of winter sports. Learn more:

Granlibakken Resort – This charming 74-acre resort tucked away just off the northwestern shores of Lake Tahoe is home to numerous trails and accesses the basin’s many magnificent ungroomed backcountry trails, including the popular nearby Paige Meadows. The property also has on-site rentals and warming huts. Learn more:

Resort at Squaw Creek Cross County Center – This on-site Nordic Centre boasts 18 kilometers of groomed trails that weave through the surrounding hillside. The majority of trails (70%) are perfect for beginners and all trails start from the Resort at Squaw Creek. Daily group and private lessons are available. Learn more:

Sugar Pine Point State Park – In winter, visitors can enjoy 11 miles of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. Tap into local Olympic history by starting at the blue Trailhead. There is a series of interpretive panels that share Olympic and Nordic skiing history. In addition to cross country trails, the park also boasts snowshoeing tours – by full moon around the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion, and by daylight to explore the natural environment that attracted Tahoe’s earliest settlers. Check the website for dates and additional details. Learn more:

Tahoe Adventure Company – This group of well trained mountain enthusiasts lead snowshoe tours around Lake Tahoe’s vast terrain. From leisurely walks or a more strenuous ascent of a nearby peak, guides offer fascinating natural and human history along the way, inclusive of instruction and safety information. Guided treks also include snowshoeing under the stars with a professional astronomer and full moon tours that include snacks and hot chocolate. Learn more:


Tahoe XC Ski Swap – November 12 at Tahoe XC. As the largest annual ski swap in California, this is the best place to swap and sell Nordic gear. Proceeds benefit the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association.

Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area Season Kickoff Party – Jake’s on Lake Tahoe – Sunday December 4. A buffet style dinner where everyone is invited to start off the winter season with friends.

Pole, Pedal, Pound Winter Triathlon Race – January 15, 2017 at Tahoe City Winter Sports Park. A winter take on the triathlon with a course even children can conquer. First skiing, then riding, then running each for two miles each.

Full Moon Yurt Dinners – February 10 and 11 Tahoe City. A fundraiser for the Tahoe XC Ski Team, enjoy moonlit dinners and wine and hot chocolate next to a blazing warm fire.

Alpenglow Mountain Festival – February 18 – 26 at Tahoe City. A bi-annual celebration of all things mountain sports. With demos, events, presentations, and so much more, there are plenty of things for a winter sport lover to find and enjoy.

Alpenglow 20km XC Ski Race and Fat Bike Race – February 26. Part of the annual Alpenglow festival, this is a pure and simple race in the pure white snow. Grab the fat tire bikes and the cross country skies for a 20km race through exquisite backcountry.

The Great Ski Race – Sunday March 5. From Tahoe City to Truckee, the Great Ski Race is the biggest fundraiser for the Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue Team. Proceeds from the race go towards equipment for the search team.

Travelers wishing to come up and explore the area’s endless cross-country trails should check resort and trail conditions prior to making the trek. For more information about events or where to rent cross-country and snow shoe equipment, go to