- Backpack into the legendary Sierra Nevada range in Tahoe National Forest
- Stay 3 nights in the backcountry at a lovely streamside basecamp
- Spend 2 days hiking with daypacks along scenic, little-traveled trails
- Learn backpacking skills from expert guides
Explore the "quiet side" of Tahoe while backpacking the hidden trails of Tahoe National Forest, only 40 miles away from majestic Lake Tahoe.
We backpack through fern-carpeted cedar forests on our way to a streamside backcountry camp, our home for three nights. From our wilderness basecamp, we explore an open granite basin dotted with alpine lakes and surrounded by the rugged summits of Old Man Mountain and the Black Buttes. Carrying only a daypack we hike to hidden lakes and cascading mountain streams well off the beaten path, the perfect place for a cool mountain dip! Our trip ends with a trek back to civilization across rocky ridge tops with expansive views of the granite-tipped Sierra Nevada.
An easy getaway from Reno, Sacramento, or the San Francisco Bay Area, our time in the Sierra Nevada gives us fresh perspective on this stunning mountain range and the beauty it has to offer. Ideal for the novice and experienced backpacker alike, this trip is a beautiful introduction to the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
- Day 1 - Meet at Tahoe National Forest before setting off for our campsite.
- Day 2 - Day hike to mountain lakes and granite domes.
- Day 3 - Walk seldom-used trails in the Fordyce Creek basin.
- Day 4 - Break camp and backpack out to the trailhead.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Meet at Tahoe National Forest before setting off for our campsite.
Your trip begins today in Eagle Lakes, California, one mile west of Cisco Grove on Interstate Hwy 80. Arrive at the trailhead at 12:00pm (please eat lunch before you arrive, and come prepared with full water bottles or hydration system), your guides will be waiting to greet you and the rest of the group. After a brief orientation, pack check, and equitable gear distribution (expect to add between 5 and 10 pounds of group gear and food) we'll hit the trail. We'll hike through old growth forests and across rocky outcrops with expansive views of the Sierra Nevada on the way to our creekside campsite, where we'll stay for three nights. Dinner provided.
Hiking distance: 3.5 miles, elevation gain 400'.
Day 2 - Day hike to mountain lakes and granite domes.
A hearty camp breakfast starts off the day. After packing a lunch, we'll hike with our day packs to secluded Beyer's Lakes, perched at 6856' on a granite bench with a view of Old Man Mountain (7,789'), a granite peak reminiscent of Half Dome in Yosemite. We'll keep our eyes open for wildlife (yellow-bellied marmots, pikas, Clark's Nutcrackers) and take in the fresh air under the sapphire blue Sierra sky. There will be time for a swim in the lake's crystal clear water before our return to camp, downhill all the way! All meals provided.
Hiking distance: 8 miles, elevation gain 1,700'.
Day 3 - Walk seldom-used trails in the Fordyce Creek basin.
Today, again with our day packs, we'll hike along a seldom-used trail that meanders through old growth forests and out into the wide open granite country of Fordyce Creek Basin. We'll follow the cascading waters of Fordyce Creek to a series of waterfalls and deep pools, stopping to identify the many wildflowers we'll encounter along the way. After lunch we'll have some time to relax and perhaps swim before returning to our backcountry camp for dinner and s'mores by the campfire. All meals provided.
Hiking distance: 6 miles, elevation gain 400'.
Day 4 - Break camp and backpack out to the trailhead.
We start the morning with a last delicious backcountry breakfast before breaking camp and heading back to the trailhead. Our final hike amid picturesque granite ridge tops and fern carpeted forests becomes more significant as we prepare ourselves to say goodbye to this remarkable corner of the Sierra and the new friends we made during our adventure. We estimate being back at the trailhead by 3pm, though this may vary depending on trail and weather conditions, hiking speed of the entire group and other circumstances beyond our control.
Hiking distance: 3.5 miles, elevation loss 400'.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including weather and terrain conditions. This trip is operated rain or shine.
Contact REI Adventures prior to purchasing your airline tickets to confirm that the trip has the minimum number of participants required to operate.
Professional instruction and guiding; three nights tent camping at primitive backcountry campsite in 2-person tents; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; campsite and permit fees.
Transportation from your hometown to group meeting point; insurance of any kind; alcoholic beverages; guide gratuities and items of a personal nature. Participants over the age of 21 may bring alcoholic beverages of choice in suitable backpacking containers, no glass please.
Sacramento California, 90 miles, 1.75 hrs; or Reno Nevada, 61 miles, 1.25 hrs.
There is no reliable transfer service from any airport to our meeting place. Anticipate renting a car if flying in for this weekend getaway.
This trip is rated Moderate Plus [3-4]. Participants will be carrying their own backpacks (weighing 30-35 pounds) for distances of 3.5 - 4 miles on days 1 and 4. Only a daypack is required on days 2 and 3, but we will be hiking 6-8 miles on those days with elevation changes between 400 and 1,700 feet. We will be traveling at an altitude between 5,500 and 6,900 feet where the thinner air can have an effect on your performance. To maximize your enjoyment of the trip, we strongly encourage participants to be involved in a training regimen before the trip. Of paramount importance to your enjoyment of the trip is your overall fitness level.
Daytime temperatures usually range between 60-80°F, with evening temperatures dropping to the 40s and 50s. Early- or late-season trips will experience a wider range of temperatures. Thunderstorms are a possibility at any time in the mountains, making adequate raingear a necessity.
If you are traveling alone we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. A limited number of single accommodations are available, and are assigned only as necessary.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Weekend Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and detailed pre-trip information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Tahoe Sierra Backpacking Gear List
- Tents (3 season, 2 person)
- Cooking gear
- Stoves and fuel
- Water filter
- Trip leader first aid kit
- Bear canister
- Backpack: large internal frame or external frame (65-85L)
- Pack cover, waterproof
- Lightweight, compressible day pack (REI Flashpack is a good example) for days 2 and 3 (highly recommended)
- Sleeping bag (20° - 25°)
- Sleeping pad (inflatables are best)
- Hiking boots: heavy duty, waterproof, and well broken-in, should rise above ankle
- Water-friendly sandals for stream crossings and in camp (optional)
- Rain jacket and pants, lightweight waterproof and breathable
- Midweight fleece jacket or wool sweater
- Midweight thermal top and bottom made of synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants, quick-drying, lightweight (zip-off legs are great and negate the need for shorts). No denim.
- Hiking shorts, quick-drying, lightweight OR the shorts from your zip-off pants
- T-shirts, synthetic
- Hiking socks, 2 pairs, wool or synthetic
- 2 pairs sock liners, silk or synthetic (optional)
- Sun hat with brim
- Wool or fleece hat
- Lightweight wool or fleece gloves
- Hydration system (optional)
- 2 Nalgene-type 1-quart water bottles, even if you have a hydration system
- Headlamp with new batteries and bulb
- Plastic bowl, spoon, fork, mug
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock, minimum SPF 25 (small)
- Lip balm (unscented)
- Personal medications
- Insect repellent (small)
- Toothbrush and trial-sized paste
- TP system: Place items in one 1-gallon Ziploc bag: ½ roll of toilet paper, 1 Ziploc 1-quart bag, sanitation trowel, small bottle of hand sanitizer. A few wet wipes can be a nice addition.
- Bic lighter
- 1 large plastic garbage bag
- Down vest or jacket (highly recommended)
- Trekking poles (highly recommended)
- Small pack towel and/or washcloth
- Head net for mosquitoes
- Baseplate compass
- Ear plugs
- Paper and pen
- Camera and spare batteries
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.
Reviewed by 1 customer
Displaying review 1
- Activity Level
- Group Camaraderie
Comments about REI Adventures Tahoe Sierra Backpacking:
Overall the trip was wonderful. We had a large group of 11 + 2 guides and the camaraderie was really good. Hiked some amazing terrain, enjoyed swimming and jumping in the river and met some really interesting and fun people.
In the room for improvement area, while we were encouraged by the guides to grab a lot of snacks from the bins while packing up at the trail head (we didn't go hungry), there was not enough food for everyone at the lunches and dinners. The guides also should have made sure everyone was present before serving the meals. One of the guides missed lunch while scouting around a lake, and another woman would have missed out on dinner if someone didn't go to her tent and get her at the last minute. Again...not a big deal but this this could have been better. I really think this was an anomaly and probably in part due to our group being on the large side.
To end on a positive note, the guides were friendly and helpful, very knowledgeable about the flora, fauna and geography and spend lots of time describing and explaining things we saw or answering questions. They were great in helping everybody pack their backpacks, adjust their packs, treating blisters and looking out for the general welfare of the group. Thank you very much to our guides!
That said, I will certainly be doing another trip again!
- Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
- Destination, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Why did you choose this trip?:
- Timing and location.