Trip Number: 12240A
Staff: Ian Schill
- Stay in Sierra Club's historic Clair Tappan Lodge
- Hike in the high mountains, surrounded by magnificent scenery with
- Soak in a hot tub after hiking
- All meals and lodging
- Hot showers, home-cooked meals
- Leader-led hikes
Once known as a gateway to the promised land of California, the towering granite
peaks and high passes of the Sierra Nevada posed stark challenges for early
explorers. Today this area is a welcoming place, offering the visitor spectacular
scenery, sparkling mountain lakes, and magnificent hiking trails.
Using the Sierra Club's Clair Tappan Lodge as our home base for the week, we'll
explore the network of trails in the vicinity of Donner Summit and Lake Tahoe.
Our hikes will take us through pine and cedar forests to scenic vistas, remote
meadows, and secluded mountain lakes.
Best of all, after a pleasant day in the mountains we'll return each evening
to the lodge, where we can enjoy hot showers, home-cooked meals, a hot tub,
and the camaraderie of kindred spirits.
Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) will be sent application forms,
and must fill these out and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader
will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely
manner. Please wait for approval from the leader before making any transportation
Photo: Ian Schill
Day 1: Plan to arrive at the lodge in plenty of time to unpack
and relax before our social hour at about 5 p.m. We'll eat dinner at 6 p.m.,
and get together to discuss our activities for the week.
Days 2-3: We will explore beautiful hiking paths on the Pacific
Crest Trail and others around Donner Summit and Lake Tahoe. Our hikes will be
varied, taking us through groves of rustling aspens to pristine alpine lakes
and magnificent views of towering peaks and forested valleys. We may swim in
mountain lakes, or relax in lush meadows and enjoy the cool breezes of September
in the High Sierra.
Day 4: We will explore petroglyphs and the railroad history
of the area. After lunch we will journey to the Tahoe Environmental Research
Center at UC Davis at Incline Village. There we will have a presentation about
the ecology of Lake Tahoe and a tour of the center.
Days 5-6: We will continue our hikes around the Donner Summit
and Lake Tahoe areas, with the chance to swim and relax.
Day 7: The trip ends after breakfast.
The exact hikes and itinerary are subject to change due to weather, poor trail
conditions, and unforeseen circumstances.
Clair Tappan Lodge is located in Norden, California, about 2.5 miles off Interstate
80 using the Soda Springs/Norden exit. This is approximately 13 miles west of
the historic town of Truckee, California, and about 50 miles west of Reno, Nevada,
which is the nearest airport. The lodge is also about 180 miles east of San
Francisco. Although there is no public transportation to the lodge, there are
several ways to get to Truckee (shuttle, Greyhound, or Amtrak), where a taxi
can be hired to take you to the lodge. For more information about transportation
from Reno, please see http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/lodges/ctl/contact.aspx.
For travel from San Francisco, please visit http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/lodges/ctl/contact.aspx.
Due to insurance regulations, all transportation to the lodge, trail heads,
or other activities is the responsibility of each participant. Leaders are unable
to arrange carpools for participants. Those arriving by air should plan to rent
a car or make their own arrangements to carpool with other trip participants.
If you wish to carpool, a roster of other trip members may be provided before
Participants will need to carpool to trailheads. Distances to trail heads range
from 2-10 miles, with the exception of a trip to Tahoe Environmental Research
Center, which is 35 miles one way.
Accommodations and Food
Built entirely by volunteers in 1934, Clair Tappan Lodge -- the Sierra Club's
rustic, two-story mountain lodge offers a spacious living room, enormous fireplace,
cozy library, and outdoor fire ring. Most sleeping accommodations are dormitory-style,
but there are several family-style rooms and small cubicles; all are equipped
with bunk beds and mattresses. Except for possibly three cubicles, which have
two mattresses on the bed, there are no double beds. For more information, see
Photo: Ian Schill
By today's standards, space for belongings is limited (remember this when packing).
It is an uphill walk from the parking lot to the lodge, but you can drive to
the back entrance, drop off your gear, and return your car to the lot below.
Shared bathrooms and showers are down the hall. Please bring earplugs if you
are a light sleeper. Trip participants provide their own sleeping bags or bedding,
towels, soap, and toiletries. There are two men's and two women's bathrooms,
with showers. A hot tub is available in the lodge. No smoking is allowed in
the building or on the surrounding trails.
As in a hostel, each lodge guest is expected to pitch in with a daily housekeeping
chore, such as meal preparation and serving, setting tables, sweeping/moping
floors, bussing tables, or dishwashing. Participants may sign up for chores
in advance. These chores require about a half-hour each day.
A hearty breakfast and dinner are prepared by the professional kitchen staff
and served in the lodge's large communal dining room. Brown bag lunch provisions
are available, and guests prepare their own lunches to take on the trail. A
vegetarian meal option is always available. Participants with other dietary
restrictions can usually be accommodated; inform the leader well in advance.
Two small refrigerators are available in the Puce room on a first-come, first-served
Coffee, tea, and water are served with meals. For those wishing hot drinks
before or after meal times, please bring change for the donation box. If you
prefer soft drinks, a coin machine is available in the lodge.
The lodge has a washer and dryer. Please bring a supply of quarters if you
plan to do laundry during the trip.
This trip is for the experienced hiker who can hike at high altitude for several
days in a row. Our goal each day will be to enjoy our time in the mountains
while hiking at a fairly brisk pace. The hikes are considered intermediate level,
at altitudes of 7,000 feet or more, and distances of 6-10 miles. Ascents and
descents will vary from 800 to 2,000 feet. We will hike over gravel, steep,
rocky terrain, sometimes over boulders, and possible stream crossings, depending
upon snowmelt conditions. In some areas, footing may be unstable. Occasionally
drop-offs may be seen from the trails. Hikes will vary from 4-6 hours, with
a lunch break around noon. You will need comfortable, well-broken-in hiking
Keep in mind that we will be hiking at elevations above 7,000 feet where the
air is thinner than at sea level, so more exertion is required. It is dry in
the Sierra; bring water bottles that will carry at least two liters/quarts total.
Plan to drink lots of water. Participants owe it to themselves, and to the other
hikers, to be in good physical condition. Temperatures will range from the 60s-70s
during the day to the 30s at night. We have had light snow in past trips in
Photographers are welcome, understanding that the focus of this trip is hiking;
photographers are expected to keep up with the group, and not lag behind. This
is a group hiking experience.
Equipment and Clothing
The leader will send participants a detailed equipment list. Examples of necessary
items include good quality rain gear, including both a jacket and rain pants
(no ponchos), broken-in hiking boots, and a day pack. Prepare to dress in layers,
as temperatures may range from the 60s to the 70s during the day, to the 30s
at night. We have had light snow in past trips in September. We will be in the
mountains, where weather is often unpredictable. Be prepared for any kind of
weather, from mild and breezy, to hot, to snow or rain. That is all part of
the adventure! Be sure to bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and
lip gloss with sunscreen.
If you're interested in learning more about the area, pick up a copy of the
USGS topographic map for Donner Pass, available at many sporting goods stores
and at the lodge.
Photo: Ian Schill
Our trip will follow Leave No Trace protocols. One evening participants will
share local conservation issues from their area.
The area that we will explore is very popular among recreational users in both
winter and summer. Indeed, as more and more people escape the big cities and
buy homes in the foothills of the Sierra, they contribute to a growing pollution
problem. In addition, logging practices have ruined many acres of surrounding
land, threatening the ecosystem. We'll discuss these and other issues while
on the trip. We may have a local ranger speak with us one evening.
Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under permits from Tahoe National Park and DL Bliss & Emerald Bay State Parks.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Ian Schill is a retired aircraft mechanic. An avid hiker and outdoors enthusiast. He is an avid cyclist who rides over 7,000 miles each year. He has hiked in the Sierra for the last seven years. He has hiked in Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy, Switzerland, and New Zealand. He also leads local outings in the Cumberland chapter in Kentucky and internationally.
Linda Conklin is a retired special education teacher who lived and worked in the Sierra foothills near Yosemite for 35 years. Her family spent many years camping, backpacking, swimming in mountain lakes and river rafting. In the past she has been very involved in environmental politics. Now, her interest is to share her love of the Earth and her outdoor experience with others. Linda has led over 20 Sierra Club National Outings since 2003 and looks forward to leading many more.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips