Maybe it’s time to put the brakes on questionable ebike rules

Rules for where ebikes can be ridden seem arbitrary.

I understand not wanting motorized vehicles on paved multi-use paths. But to ban all ebikes and not just certain classes of them doesn’t make sense. They aren’t all alike.

Knowingly breaking the rules when it comes to riding an ebike. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

My ebike requires me to pedal for the motor to engage. That’s why it’s a pedal-assist bike. Yes, it’s still an electric bike.

Last month I took her out on the Midway trail, a popular paved path that runs from Chico to Durham. I ignored the sign saying no ebikes. The electric scooter rider also ignored the sign. The no motorized vehicles part of the sign applied to him as well.

As a non-ebike rider and walker, I understand not wanting people to whiz by me on a trail like this on a moped or scooter or motorcycle.

Like many ebikes, mine comes with different settings. On flat I have it in its lowest setting to get a better workout. I’m not a fast rider. Someone on a road bike passed me. Really! So, clearly, my speed on my ebike is not a threat to others.

Perhaps I’m the exception to the rule because I’m slow. But I don’t think so. I think the problem is that the powers that be put in the rules without understanding the dynamics of electric bikes.

I understand ones with throttles being banned from paved paths. They are more like mopeds than bikes.

But at the same time one has to consider the alternatives for people on two wheels. In my case this would have meant riding on a dangerous road with no shoulder where vehicles go 55-plus miles an hour. I’ll take a ticket for riding my ebike illegally over the threat of dying.

It seems like a speed limit on paved trails might be the better solution for safety for all and it would mean being more inclusive. I don’t know what that limit should be. I really don’t know who is going to enforce it. Enforcement of ebikes on these trails is probably not a thing. It’s like any rule, we are supposed to self-regulate, self-police.

Or maybe it’s time to get the rules changed; at least this particular one.

Calif., Nev. making concerted effort for the outdoors to be inclusive

California and Nevada want more than just white people enjoying the outdoors. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Look around. Who do you see when you play in the outdoors? Do others look like you? Likely the answer is “no” if you are not white.

The National Ski Areas Association reported that in the 2021-22 season, 89 percent of skiers were white, 5.7 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 5.5 percent Latino, 1.5 percent Black, and less than 1percent American Indian or Alaska native.

Officials estimate 75 percent of visitors to state and national parks in the U.S. are white, while as a whole white people represent less than 60 percent of the overall population.

Nevada and California are making a concerted effort to be more inclusive not only to people of color, but to those on the lower rungs on the economic ladder as well those with mobility issues.

“We know just looking at our typical visitors when you drive through our parks it is predominately white folks using parks for camping,” Bob Mergell, administrator for Nevada Division of State Parks, said. “Our goal is to try to reach out to groups who historically may not have utilized state parks.”

At the end of last year California released a document titled: Outdoors for All: Providing Equitable Access to Parks and Nature. In addition to English, it will be translated into four languages, which is another effort to be inclusive.

The public had an opportunity to comment on this document when it was released last summer, as well at the multiple workshops, including the one in Truckee.

“What I heard in Truckee and at other rural places is that you can be surrounded by public lands and still not have access,” Katherine Toy, California Natural Resources Agency’s deputy director for access, said. “Access to recreation in Tahoe can be expensive; transit is an issue.”

Expenses include paying more than $100 for a lift ticket, renting or buying gear, needing appropriate clothing, and possibly a lesson to know how to participate.

“One in 4 Californians do not have the same access to outdoors that others have. That is something we can do better,” Toy said. “There are a number of positive health outcomes for those who have easy access to nature. People deserve to have access to the outdoors in their everyday lives and not have it just as a special treat.”

Toy is in charge of the state’s Outdoors for All initiative that was launched in 2021 when the state allocated $1 billion to the cause. This included $500 million in grants to local communities for parks infrastructure, transportation and education programs, and the other $500 million for expanding access to State Parks and other state facilities through infrastructure and improvements to existing programs.

Professional skiers and those watching the sport are predominately white. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Forming alliances

Both states are working to hire more people of color as well as use promotional materials that reflect diversity.

It’s not just about getting people to participate in sports popular in the Tahoe-Truckee area, it’s about getting people to their local and regional parks. It’s about developing outdoor spaces where there aren’t any. People also need to feel safe, and that isn’t always the case for non-whites.

“The strategies outlined in this section will help achieve a future where every Californian feels safe, welcome, and encouraged in the outdoors, and can enjoy California’s outdoor spaces without hesitation,” the document says.

California’s is the largest state parks system in the country with 279. The state estimates 6 in 10 residents live in park-poor neighborhoods, which by definition is less than 3 acres of open space per 1,000 residents.

For comparison, Nevada has 27 state parks.

In mid-October, California State Parks signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians (who are based on the West Slope of El Dorado County) at the future site of the California Indian Heritage Center known as Pusúune in West Sacramento. It’s being built for the protection, preservation, and interpretation for parks on the tribe’s ancestral homelands.

This is the fifth MOU State Parks has signed with a tribe in the last year.

Nevada is working with groups like Blacks in Nature and Black Folks Camp Too.

A bill approved by the Nevada Legislature in 2019 created the Office for New Americans. One component of the law is that every state agency must have a diversity and inclusion liaison.

For Nevada state parks that person is Janice Keillor. This designation is in addition to being the department’s deputy administrator.

“Little by little we are going to chip away at the barriers that exist,” Keillor said.

Note: A version of this story first appeared in the 2023-24 winter issue of Tahoe In Depth.

Palm Springs trail network extensive for hikers

John, Adam and Lew realizing this was not the correct route. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Hiking—the options seem endless in Palm Springs. Add the greater Coachella Valley, and, well, the mileage is going to be impressive.

On my two-week trip to the desert just after Thanksgiving I had the good fortune of being part of three group excursions right in Palm Springs, with a solo adventure to Tahquitz Canyon and a day trip to Borrego Springs.

While some people find the desert boring, not me. I’m sure some people find the mountains boring; you’ve seen one pine tree, how many more do you need to see? I find both settings magical in their own way.

One of the things I appreciate about the desert is how much life there is an area that at first glance appears desolate, and, well, lifeless. Still, I prefer large wild animals—bears, coyotes—and not the kind that slither on the ground.

The Bob Hope house is a focal point when hiking and elsewhere in Palm Springs. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Definitely not a fan of creepy crawlers, so of course there was a massive tarantula blocking the trail. OK, not really blocking it, but the spider did make me stop in my tracks. Made all four of us stop. Then we started taking pictures and videos. Stupid humans.

Since then I have learned tarantulas can go seven months without drinking water, which explains one reason they thrive in the desert. They also dig dens that can be 20 inches deep, which is where they go to nap.

This eight-legged wonder was in the Palm Canyon area of Palm Springs. I was there with three others, two of whom had hiked there before. Based on part of the excursion being more like a rock scramble, it was clear we should have been using a map instead of memory. But then we might not have seen spidey.

Fan palms are the only native palm trees in the California desert. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

We never did figure out where we zagged when we should have zigged in Fern Canyon. No biggie, we were never lost; we just weren’t where we wanted to be.

Victor Trail took us where we wanted to go. At times we were above an incredible palm oasis. This fertile swath of land looks so out of place in the desert. Before we knew it we were in the middle of this grove, with palms providing a canopy of shade.

This is the world’s largest California fan palm oasis in the world.

Many of the trunks were charred. All I could find online about a fire in the canyon was this from 1980.

Another outing had us on a trail where the 24,000-square-foot Bob Hope estate was the focal point much of the way. While no longer belonging to a member of the Hope family, it is still known as the Bob Hope house.

The Bob Hope estate has views of the greater Palm Springs area. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It looks a bit like an alien space shift. A tour of the inside would undoubtedly be interesting. It is an architectural spectacle.

The hike was mostly along the Bern’s Trail. We did a one way which dropped off in the neighborhood of one of the guys.

The first outing was the Lyken Trail which can be accessed across the street from the condo where I was cat sitting on South Palm Canyon Drive. It was a good introductory hike to get me acclimated to the terrain and my surroundings.

I know I barely made a dent in the desert’s trail system. Not a problem. Ready to tackle more on the next trip.

Bidwell Mansion property like an educational nursery

Leaves from an array of trees at Bidwell Mansion in Chico cover the ground. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

One of the beautiful things about Chico is the variety of trees.

On a recent outing sponsored by the Lassen chapter of the Native Plant Society, several people strolled the grounds of Bidwell Mansion learning about many of the trees that call this “front yard” home.

Some of the trees—28 different species were on the handout—were actually planted when John Bidwell, who founded Chico, lived in the house that is now part of the State Parks system.

Learning about the not so giant Giant Sequoia, which is the largest tree in the world and is now endangered.. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

At the same time it’s easy to appreciate and take for granted all of the trees in Chico. The beauty no matter the time of year is evident, but also expected by those who live here. This excursion was welcome because it made me slow down and really look at the trees.

This leisurely stroll gave our group time to appreciate these trees individually instead of as a cluster. To really see them instead of whizzing by in a car or even walking past without acknowledgement.

The irony that most of the trees are not native to California was not lost on the group. Nonetheless, it was an interesting education. The only downside, other than the chilly temperatures, was weather postponed the event from November to Dec. 9 so most of the deciduous trees had lost their leaves.

Even so, the Goldenrain Tree was still full of yellow leaves. This plant is native to China. It’s appropriately named—the leaves appear to be a stream of “raining” yellow. It can be seen throughout Chico.

The Southern Magnolia was planted in 1858, reportedly by Bidwell. Trees more than 100 years old are not uncommon on the property.

Buds on the Yulan Magnolia will become an upright and cup-shape fragrant creamy to white flower with a pink base. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Species are from other parts of the state, other parts of the country and world, including Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Rocky Mountains, Mexico, Asia, and Europe.

We were told the Gray or Foothill Pine only grows in California.

Trees at Bidwell Mansion also include the California Fan Palm, Chinese Pistache, Italian Cypress, Giant Sequoia, Turkey Oak, London Plane Tree, and Purple Norway Maple.

Liquidambars, which have some of the prettiest leaves, are actually called American Sweet Gum.

I learned not to pluck the leaves off the English Laurel, as they are poisonous. This is unlike the California Laurel where bay leaves are popular for seasoning.

Desert’s beauty not always evident at first glance

Palm Canyon oasis in Anza-Borrego State Park. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Borrego Springs—population 2,566—is in the middle of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

The entire area is one big playground in the Southern California desert, with just enough amenities to keep locals and visitors satiated.

I had the good fortune earlier this month to be shown around by a dear friend who now calls Borrego Springs home. It was the perfect sampling of activities—hiking, eating, viewing art, driving tour—and of course an abundance of conversation.

I completely understand why she lives there.

I’m looking forward to more than a day visit in the future so I can experience even more of this swath of California.

A solitary bighorn sheep almost looks like a statue. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Kim came through in a big way by delivering a desert bighorn sheep for my viewing pleasure. I’m sure she conspired with the park rangers to make this happen since I kept striking out on my hikes in nearby Palm Springs.

A lone young male peninsular bighorn sheep seemed to be posing on a rock, standing still so I had time to grab my camera. Maybe he was really scanning the area for friends or foes, or lunch options, or a place to hide from the two-legged creatures on the trail.

According the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website, “Desert bighorn sheep inhabit rocky slopes and cliffs, canyons, washes and alluvial fans. Like other bighorn sheep, they prefer rugged and open habitat, and use their climbing abilities, vigilance, and excellent vision to detect and escape from predators. They are generalist herbivores and eat a wide variety of desert plants, including cacti.”

They are a federally endangered species.

“My sheep” was never to be seen again as we made our way along the Palm Canyon trail.

Kim and Kae exploring Anza-Borrego State Park in early December.

While there are plenty of palm trees in the desert, looking from a distance at the area we hiked I would never have imagined the fertile oasis we walked to existed or that there would be running water.

Desert terrain captivates me—the ruggedness of the rocks and plants. And the wildlife, well, it has to be hardy to live in this environment.

But that grove of palms—wow, just, wow.

According to a sign along the way, fan palms are the only palms native to California. They can reach 60 feet in height, and are the tallest in the state. Most are found in spring- and creek-fed areas like the one we were in.

Unfortunately, the trunks of many of the palms in this grove are charred. The remnants of a fire started by a group of Boy Scouts on Jan. 18, 2020.

The trail leading to the canyon full of palms. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Information at the visitors center says, “The trees are making a stunning recovery. However, it is still too soon to walk around in the grove because the topsoil layer was damaged and remains fragile and easily eroded.”

Not being able to get closer was no big deal to me. I was still taken with the beauty. It was magical.

This is one of 30 palm oases in the park.

Another thing I learned at the visitors center is the oldest living plant is the creosote bush in the Mojave Desert, which is about 9,400 years old.

The desert—it really is an underappreciated landscape.

Palm Springs Tram a tale of history, nature and an engineering marvel

The Palm Springs Tram first ride was in 1963. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

In 10 minutes I went from 2,643 feet to 8,516 feet, with the temperature dropping about 30 degrees, and the surroundings going from desert to mountains.

The Palm Springs Tram has been whisking people up these 2½ miles for 60 years.

It’s the world’s largest rotating tram. The rotation part, though, started in 2000. The floor moves so people get a 360-degree view without having to take a step.

The Salton Sea shines in the distance. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While there are more than 50 miles of hiking at the top, including a route to the top of the 10,834-foot Mount Jacinto, I opted not to tax my muscles. Instead, I took the leisurely Nature Valley Loop and Desert View Loop scenic trails from the top of the tram.

Fortunately, I was ready for the 32-degree temps. I knew to pack gloves and other appropriate clothing. Clearly, not everyone got the memo to dress warm based on their attire and footwear. Considering a few traces of snow were along the trail and ice in the creek, I would not have wanted to have less clothing on.

It’s possible to stay indoors the entire time. Food and beverages are available, with plenty of doses of history.

The scenery is absolutely stunning. In some ways it reminded me of being at Heavenly Mountain Resort or any hiking/biking trail in the Tahoe area where you can see the desert and mountains at once.

Views from the trails near the top of the tram provided stunning vistas. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

But something about the short trails I went on were even more magical. Perhaps because I don’t associate Palm Springs with pine trees I was more taken by the scenery, more impressed by Mother Nature. What also captivated me was the layering of mountains. On the desert side are endless windmills. About 30 miles way is the Salton Sea. It distinctly shimmers in the distance.

Mount San Jacinto State Park is one of the oldest and largest wilderness areas among California’s state parks. Ninety percent of the 14,000 acres is permanently set aside as wilderness.

Like much of the west, this wasn’t always protected land.

One sign reads, “After nearly a century of timber production, parts of the of San Jacinto Mountains looked like nothing more than a logging camp. Where tall trees once stood, stumps and wood debris littered the landscape. Livestock grazing also took its toll. John Muir toured the region with members of the National Forest Commission and advocated for the protection and preservation of the high country. Based on the commission’s report, President Cleveland established the San Jacinto Forest Reserve in 1897. More robust protection came in 1927 when a Forest Service game refuge was created to regulate the hunting of deer. It took another 10 years to arrive at a true wilderness designation. In 1937, the federal government, the California State Park Commission, and local officials collaborated to permanently protect the region. This land was designated the Mount San Jacinto State Park and set aside as a wilderness area. Later, adjacent Federal land was designated the San Jacinto Wilderness. The result was permanent protection of nearly all of San Jacinto’s high country.”

On the tram ride down the sun sets on the mountains beyond the valley. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

One doesn’t have to “hike” to get good views. Plenty of photo-ops abound just outside the buildings at the top of the tram.

Still, I was happy to walk a couple miles to immerse myself more in the natural setting and get away from the crowds.

The idea of the tram was not welcomed by all initially, with many thinking it was a pipe dream.

Electrical engineer Francis Crocker came up with the idea in 1935, thinking it sure would be a lot cooler in the mountains than sweating in the desert. Thus began the efforts to create a tram through Chino Canyon. After all, the temperature difference between to bottom and top of the tram is usually between 30 and 40 degrees.

During the 26 months of construction it took about 23,000 helicopter trips to deliver workers and materials to the sites where the towers were erected and the mountain station was built. The tram opened in September 1963.

Now it’s a tourist attraction, a refuge for locals, a state park and a federal wilderness area.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Deets:

  • Parking is $15; free to locals with ID.
  • Tram tickets are $30.95. They may be purchased in advance.
  • Phone: 760.325.1391
  • Website

Walking in the footsteps of indigenous people to waterfalls

It costs $15 to hike in Tahquitz Canyon. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It would have been easy enough to find the waterfall on my own. But that would have meant not nibbling on the hummingbird plant that tastes like cucumber, or learning that brittlebush was used like Vicks VapoRub by Indians, let alone missing the petroglyph.

The ranger hikes at Tahquitz Canyon in Palm Springs are free. If you are into learning a bit about this area, take the time to go with a ranger.

Either way, it’s not a difficult 2-mile round trip hike, where a 60-foot waterfall is the destination. It’s easy to make it a loop, hiking on either side of Tahquitz Creek. The elevation gain is 351 feet, with the falls at an elevation of 867 feet.

Alejandro was a terrific guide last month on this two-hour excursion.

Alejandro talks about the petroglyphs in Tahquitz Canyon. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Etched on a rock is a red diamond rattlesnake. While it was hard for me to decipher this, with Alejandro’s help I could eventually see it.

He pointed out Sacred Rock. This is one of the Agua Caliente Indian’s oldest dwelling sites. Artifacts found here are more than 1,500 years old.

It’s not surprising Tahquitz Canyon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

So many plants along the trail were used by the Indians, with some still part of their culture. There was the creosote bush, Yerba Santa plant, and desert lavender. I was told to steer clear of the catclaw, what rangers call the “wait a minute” bush because the thorns seems to reach out and grab you.

Before reaching the main falls a smaller one comes into view. This is where in 1960 the U.S. Geological Society built a garish water gauging station. Today it provides information that people may track online.

Tahquitz Falls flows steadily in late November. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It’s Tahquitz Falls that will captivate you. It seems so amazing for this much or any water to be spilling forth so close to downtown Palm Springs. It was like being transported to another world.

While some people opt to cool off here, with the creek being 49 degrees, I was good with not even dipping my toe in.

The waterfall and creek are fed by snowfall and rain. When Tropical Storm Hilary blew through the desert in August it filled the canyon with flood waters that measured 10.6 feet, according to my guide. He said the highest level it’s ever been recorded is 12.7 feet in 1967.

According to the tribe, “Tahquitz was the first shaman created by Mukat, the creator of all things.” Tahquitz at first used his power for good, but when he started doing bad things he was banished to this canyon. “It is said his spirit still lives in the canyon. He sometimes can be seen as a large green fireball streaking across the night sky.”

Upper Truckee River projects improving environment

Water overflowing river banks might look like Mother Nature is out of control, but the reality is this is what’s supposed to happen. At least in a healthy eco-system.

After millions of dollars were poured into restoring the Upper Truckee River watershed, the projects were tested this year like never before because of all the moisture that fell last winter, along with the spring-summer runoff.

“We have been monitoring all of our projects and it looks like things worked well,” Chris Carney, spokesman for the California Tahoe Conservancy, said.

The CTC owns five of the nine project areas along the Upper Truckee River that have been or are slated to be revamped. Tahoe Resource Conservation District, city of South Lake Tahoe, U.S. Forest Service and California State Parks own the other sections.

While the entire river is about 24 miles, the restoration area is roughly the 9 miles from the Highway 50 bridge in Meyers to the mouth of Lake Tahoe.

One of the more visible parcels to be renovated was the Upper Truckee Marsh at Cove East, which is accessed at the end of Venice Drive in the Tahoe Keys.

Even with the record snowfall last season, irrigation pipes remain in order to irrigate as needed to ensure plants thrive and take hold, according to Carney. This is similar to the approach taken on the first project at Cove East about 20 years. Today, there is no active management, which will be the case with the marsh one day as well.

“The biggest thing with restoring the Upper Truckee Marsh was the opportunity to create wetlands,” Scott Carroll, with the CTC’s Watershed Program, said. “Most of the time, once wetlands have been destroyed by development, such as happened near the mouth of the river, it’s gone for good. Now, between the project 20 years ago and the most recent restoration, we have over 20 acres of wetland habitat back.”

Upper Truckee Marsh in South Lake Tahoe in June. (Image: Chris Carney)

Following the science 

            As the largest tributary to Lake Tahoe, the Upper Truckee River’s health is of great importance. This watershed, though, is more than the river. It includes all of South Lake Tahoe (the basin’s largest population area), forest, meadows, and wildlife habitat, making for an intricate eco-system.

Key benefits, according to the CTC, for restoring the area include:

  • Enhanced meadow systems that capture more carbon;
  • Reduced wildfire risk by thinning unnaturally dense forests;
  • Restored wetlands that naturally filter pollutants to protect Lake Tahoe’s clarity;
  • Increased groundwater storage;
  • Wetter ecosystems that improve habitat for native, sensitive, and endangered species;
  • Expanded equitable access to outdoor recreation opportunities.

In March 2022, a document titled “Greater Upper Truckee Watershed Restoration: Accomplishments and Opportunities” was released by the CTC and other agencies in the basin.

“Rivers have lost their natural functions. Altered stream channels have lower groundwater levels, drier meadows, more channel erosion, and prevent sediment-laden flood flows from being filtered across the river floodplain,” the paper says. “Meadows are drying and have lost habitat. Development has eliminated over half of the meadows and riparian areas that provide critical wildlife habitat in the greater Upper Truckee watershed.”

The above are all reasons river restoration projects began more than two decades ago.

There is no estimate when all the projects will be finished, but most are in the works at some level—even if that means they are just being talked about. Money is the main obstacle in getting them off the ground, that and what can be an arduous permitting process in the basin.

Through the years land managers, and those tasked with designing and implementing the projects have learned from the work of previous projects. Continual monitoring of the completed projects provides a road map for future endeavors.

One surprise has been carbon capture.

A study published by UNR researchers in the scientific journal “Ecosystems” in 2020 revealed that meadows acting as wetlands remove carbon from the atmosphere. On the flip side, meadows that are soil with minimal vegetation emit carbon from the land to the atmosphere.

Researchers discovered 1 acre of meadow may retain as much carbon as 6 acres of forest.

Still to be resolved

            While land managers are more than satisfied with the various river projects, not everyone is.

Residents on the Al Tahoe side of the marsh are suing the CTC in El Dorado County Superior Court because of flooding.

Carney, with the CTC, said his agency doesn’t believe restoration projects have anything do with the flooding.

Trout Creek is notorious for overrunning its banks, with water coming in the back yards of those along El Dorado Avenue in normal winters.

Another issue to be resolved is the land exchange between the CTC and the city of South Lake Tahoe that was approved in 2022. It’s expected to be completed next year.

The city will get about 7.3 acres of lakefront recreation land next to El Dorado Beach and other parcels, while the Conservancy will acquire about 180 acres of environmentally sensitive land along Trout and Cold creeks. (More details are available here.)

The Upper Truckee River in the Johnson Meadow is slated to be revamped in the next few years. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Johnson Meadow project

             Tahoe Resource Conservation District in 2018 finalized the $8.315 million purchase of the 206-acre Johnson Meadow, which at the time was the largest private land holding in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Now the nonprofit is in the process of creating environmental documents that the public will be able to comment on.

“The goal with Johnson Meadow is to improve the function. When we get big crazy years that meadow can function as a wetland. It can filter water and not take all the sediment downstream,” said Andrew Schurr, TRCD’s restoration program manager. “(The river) is going to be different, but you will still be able to boat it and float it. You will still be able to go from Elks Club down to the lake.”

TRCD is looking to reconnect the floodplain, while the eastern side of the meadow next to neighborhoods continuing to be an active channel.

An option includes filling in the route known at Gulley Channel. It’s an old irrigation ditch that after flooding in 1997 has remained an offshoot of the Upper Truckee River that each year gets deeper and has eroding banks that add to the environmental degradation of the area.

Plans will include continued access to South Tahoe Public Utility District’s lines that are in the meadow.

Schurr would like to go out to bid in mid-2025 or the following year, with “all things being perfect” construction wrapping up before 2028. 

This bridge is slated to be torn out and replaced with one upstream across the Upper Truckee River. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

New bridge in the works 

Locally known as Hospital Bridge, the concrete structure collapsed in winter 2016-17. It was a popular connector for outdoor enthusiasts going from Barton Memorial Hospital to the Pioneer Trail side of the river.

It sits on the edge of the Johnson Meadow land owned by TRCD.

The concrete that remains to this day will be removed and with a new bridge built farther upstream. It will be a steel-trussed bridge without a middle support that will look similar to the recently installed Trout Creek bridge that is part of the Greenway bike path.

The county is in charge of the bridge project, which is part of the larger 1.2 miles of Class 1 South Tahoe Greenway. The shared use path will begin at the south end of Winnemucca Avenue, go onto the TRCD’s Johnson Meadow parcel toward the Upper Truckee River, cross the river and follow the trails toward the completed Greenway at Sierra Boulevard and Barbara Avenue.

Environmental documents are being created, with the mitigated negative declaration likely available for public review and comment in spring 2024. Construction may start in summer 2025.

The project is estimated to cost $7 million, though by the time it starts it could be more. Funding is still needed.

“It will be where the river alignment is more linear. It is more efficient for a bridge crossing so as not to impact the river dynamics and alignment. This (location) will be least impactful to the river,” explained Donaldo Palaroan, senior civil engineer with El Dorado County and the project manager.

Note: A version of this story first appeared in the Tahoe Mountain News.

Rocky, desert terrain a hiker’s paradise in Arizona

The beauty of Sabino Canyon from the Phoneline trail. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

There was no waterfall.

This had nothing to do with our excursion being in late October. It had everything to do with being on the wrong trail. A trail that has no waterfalls no matter the time of year.

It didn’t matter. Our unplanned route was stunningly beautiful. A ranger’s suggestion to make it a loop made it even more sensational.

Looking toward Tucson from the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Sabino Canyon leads to the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area. The 57,000-acre wilderness area was designated such in 1978, the same year private vehicles were banned from the canyon road. The whole area is part of the Coronado National Forest in Tucson, Arizona.

Today, an emissions-free shuttle takes people up the three-plus mile road to where an abundance of trails begin. We opted to walk the road with a few others. (The Sabino Canyon Recreation Area has more than 30 miles of trails.)

The rocky ridge line above us made me feel small. Saguaro and other desert plants grew from these rocks, looking other-worldly at times because it seemed like there was no dirt binding them to the ground.

While we didn’t see much wildlife, a roadrunner couldn’t decide if it wanted to cross the road or stay to the side where it was almost camouflaged against the terrain.

Roadrunners are popular in this part of the world. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Once off the pavement, the trail was entirely single-track. Some was decomposed rock, other times it was like stairs of rocks. Much of it necessitated looking down.

Information provided by the U.S. Forest Service says, “The Santa Catalina Mountains were formed over 12 million years ago, Over time, the land around them sank, forming valleys while the mountain range was left standing. Episodes of erosion produced thousands of feet of sediment which now liked beneath Tucson.”

Large rock formations line the canyon. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

What I was surprised to learn is most of the rock is granite. Surprised because it doesn’t look like the granite of the Sierra. There is also a “banded gray-and-white metamorphic rock called Catalina Gneiss,” according to the Forest Service.

The road was a gradual climb, with the dirt trail ascending as well. It didn’t feel like we had climbed more than 1,400 feet. But then when peering down at the road the people looked like ants.

Various kinds of cacti grow throughout this national forest. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

A few spots had substantial drop offs. It would have been painful tumbling onto sharp rocks and prickly cactus. Fortunately, when my fear of heights was triggered, I could lean away from the drop and grab onto the rock wall.

We finished the day hiking 9.72 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,463 feet. We reached a maximum elevation of 3,788 feet, and a minimum of 2,671. It should have been a little shorter mileage-wise, but I said we should zig when should have zagged.

There is a $8 parking fee, no pets allowed in the recreation area, and cycling is limited to certain days and hours. The tram is an extra fee.

Yahi trail highlights natural beauty of Upper Bidwell Park

A tranquil Big Chico Creek flows through Upper Bidwell Park. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It’s been an “official” hiking trail since 1967, but who knows how many years it was used by fishers plying the banks of Big Chico Creek as they cast their lines.

The Yahi trail in Upper Bidwell Park never disappoints. Yahi is the name of an Indian tribe that once flourished in this region.

While the park was established in 1905, it took a few decades for the city of Chico to make this an official trail in the park. It’s gone through a few changes and could use some work today.

A knotty trunk on a sycamore. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The stairs that were built many moons ago west of Alligator Hole are not useable. It would be best if the concrete were removed and either a dirt or rock path took it’s place. While this is for a short section, it is a bit of an eyesore.

Nonetheless, this trail provides some of the most stunning natural beauty in Bidwell.

The five of us started our Veterans Day hike at parking lot E, walked the Upper Park Road a bit before turning off at the big sign for Yahi.

A mix of terrain along the Yahi trail. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Much of the actual trail is single track dirt, though at times it’s possible to walk two-abreast. The changing of the seasons was evident with the colorful display of leaves.

Most of the way we could hear Big Chico Creek. With all that rain we got last year and little bit this fall, there is still plenty of water.

Big Chico Creek seems to go on forever. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Farther up, though, it’s like the creek is at a standstill. Not a ripple to be seen.

Basalt rock in places seems to frame the water, with the golden grassy hills farther up like a border around this swath of Mother Nature’s glory.

We opted to take Upper Park Road back to the vehicle. We logged about 3.7 miles, though the entire round trip (from the parking lot to the end and back) is about 8 miles.

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