Why walk when you can ride? OK, lots of reasons…But both you and your dog will enjoy the novelty of a lift-assisted hike at the Northstar California, Palisades Tahoe or Mammoth Mountain ski resorts, all of which welcome four-legged passengers in their enclosed aerial conveyances. There’s not much time left this season to hitch a ride, so better get those paws in gear!
Mammoth Mountain’s dog-friendly Panoramic Gondola climbs to the mountain’s dizzying, 11,053-foot summit, offering views to forever on a clear day. There’s lots to see and do up top and at mid-mountain, from watching mountain bikers whizzing by to exploring an interpretive center, to watching people roping up on the resort’s new Via Ferrata rock-climbing attraction. Conditions permitting, dogs and their people can hike down the backside of the mountain along a chain of lakes and streams, then hitch a ride back to town on a free shuttle bus (know before you go that dogs have to be muzzled as well as leashed).
At Northstar California, lifts operate through September primarily to service an extensive mountain-bike park. Hikers and dogs are welcome to ride in enclosed cars on the Big Springs Gondola and the Highland and Zephyr Express lifts, the latter of which lands riders just a short hike from the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile path encircling the Tahoe Basin. Food is available in the base-area village, at the mid-mountain Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe and other venues depending on the date.
Over at Palisades Tahoe, dogs can join their people on the iconic aerial tram that makes a dramatic, 2,000-foot ascent from the base area to the High Camp recreation complex at 8,200 feet. There are lots of options up top, from hiking trails to a swimming pool/hot tub complex and a dog-friendly patio restaurant.