Dogs Ride and Hike Free at Squaw Valley

Dogs Ride and Hike Free at Squaw Valley

Photo Credit: Nathan Kendall
Photo Credit: Nathan Kendall

Lake Tahoe is at its glorious best in summer, but you have to be a very early riser to get a parking spot at a dog-friendly beach on weekends. Our advice: Sleep in, then head for High Camp, the high-altitude recreation complex at Squaw Valley USA, where a pool, hot tub, roller rink, limitless hiking options and plenty of free parking await. There are two ways up: the dog-friendly Shirley Lake Trail or the iconic (and dog-friendly) aerial tram.

Zuke's encourages you to live life off leash!

Without your dog, this would be exercise!

The former starts near the base village and follows a crashing stream up Shirley Canyon, climbing 2,000 vertical feet over four miles to reach the goal. Much scrambling over exposed granite slabs is involved, so bootie your dog or pay close attention to ensure her paws don't get blistered. Use your judgment on whether to leash or unleash. It's not required to leash dogs on national forest land, but this is rugged terrain where dogs can disappear from sight in an instant.

Shirley Canyon Waterfall.
Shirley Canyon Waterfall. Photo Credit: Matt Palmer

Allow three to four hours for the hike—and know you don’t have to commit. The waterfalls and swimming holes encountered about a mile in from the trailhead are so picture-perfect that you might decide to splash, play and call it a day right there. The bonus for persistence: You can ride the tram down from High Camp for free.

Riding up, on the other hand, is free for dogs but will cost their humans $34 in advance or $44 on site (add $10 for an “adventure package” that lets you roller skate or use the pool and hot tub while your tethered dog watches from outside the fence). High Camp, at 8,200 feet elevation, is a great place to hang out and enjoy the views, but it's also the jumping off point for a web of hiking trails that lead around a wildflower-strewn meadow, over a ridge into a vast wilderness area, or to the summits of still snow-flecked peaks. With food and beverage available on both ends of the trip, a day at High Camp easily ranks as one of the most rewarding summer experiences at Tahoe.

Note: Squaw/Alpine season pass-holders ride the tram for free, while active members of the military can purchase a summer pass for $25.

Squaw hike, photo credit: Nathan Kendall
Waterfall, photo credit: Matt Palmer

Posted on: July 6, 2016

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