Hwy 50 near Meyers
Date reviewed: March 2001
Located about 12 miles south of Lake Tahoe, the Big
Meadow Trailhead offers you the choice of riding north or south on the Tahoe
Rim Trail. Riding North offers beautiful scenery and a distant view of
Tahoe. Riding south has more trail choices, several alpine lake
destinations, and eventually connects with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
This is a very popular area for hiking and fishing, and because it is a
multi-use trail, you may also pass mountain bicyclists and pack llamas. Most
trail users are courteous - all just happy to be there. These trails are
quite heavily used during weekends; weekdays are quieter.
When you ride south from the trail head use extreme caution crossing Hwy 89.
(The traffic is light but cars are going quickly and quietly down the
grade.) The trail starting on the other side is a boulder-strewn climb for
the first quarter mile. You will need to dismount to open and close the
first of several barbed wire gates, then another quarter mile of good trail
gives you BIG MEADOW! This is a huge flat expanse that was a lake thousands
of years ago. It may be full of wildflowers or grazing cattle, depending on
the time of year. Follow the track into the deep forest again. As you
continue, the trails are good, with level to gradual climbs. Check your map
and watch for a junction with the Meiss Meadow Trail. The post will direct
you to either Round Lake or Xmas Valley (toward Dardanelles Lake).
This whole area lies between Hwy 89 and Hwy 88 (Carson Pass) and can be
explored in a day, although you will probably want to linger at Dardanelles
Lake. It is spectacular with its granite slab on one side and sheer granite
cliffs on the other. To reach this lake you will cross the head waters of
the Truckee Trailhead.
The biggest lake in the area is Round Lake, only 2.7 miles from your
trailer! The lake lies at the base of an imposing wall of volcanic cliffs.
As you continue south past Round Lake you will ride into the Meiss Meadows
area. Just south of where this trail joins the Pacific Crest Trail is one of
the oldest buildings in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Meiss cabin, build in
1878, has been restored by the local ranchers and the Forest Service.
This can be your turnaround point, although the PCT continues on. There is
an incredibly diverse terrain within a very short riding distance. It
changes from granite to lava rock, sagebrush and mule ears to lush high
meadows and stands of quaking aspen to dark confier forests. In addition
there are beautiful lakes and streams.
Remember to follow good backcountry manners and practices, particularly at
the lakes (200 ft rule) and back at the trailers (remove or scatter manure).
If every trail user cherishes this beautiful wilderness, it should remain
the same for generations.
DIRECTIONS to reach the Big Meadow Trail head. From the town of Meyers on
Hwy 50, take Hwy 89 (junction ) south, 5 miles to the signed trailhead. The
entrance is on the left and comes up abruptly. The paved parking lot will be
on your left and leads to a circular area and drive-thru spaces for four
rigs. There is a bulletin board with history of the area and information on
the trails. There are also chemical toilets here, but no water. If the
parking lot is full, follow the trail head road down to the Big Meadow
campground. The creek there offers water for the horses.
Depending on snow conditions, this area may not open until mid-June or even
July. Be careful of boggy areas. For information contact the Lake Tahoe
Basin management Unit at (530) 573-2600. It is a good idea to have a topo
map with you and study it before your ride. Maps: USGS Echo Lake 7.5’,
Fallen Leaf Lake Quadrangle by Wilderness Press, and Recreation Map of Lake
Tahoe by Tom Harrison Cartography. Another source of information is the
website for the now-completed Tahoe Rim Trail: For more information contact