You guys, Lake Tahoe brings all the girls to the yard in the summer. Translated: Summer is hella awesome around Lake Tahoe. While I feel as if most people associate Lake Tahoe with winter (it was home to the Winter Olympics after all), I’ve now been persuaded to believe that summer is its best season. As locals often tell me, they came for the winter, but stayed for the summer. But while Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts is where the action takes place in the winter, it’s also where the action often takes place during the summer, not the least of which is at Northstar California. So on my recent trip to Northstar California (hosted by Northstar), over Independence Day Weekend, I tried to pack as much in as possible. And this is what I discovered about summer at Northstar California.
Mountain Bike Park
“Shit, shit, shit, this is awesome!” That basically sums up everything I was yelling on my first time riding down Northstar’s Bike Park. Northstar is a world-class ski resort after all, so it’s no walk ride in the park bicycling down black and blue trails. While I’ve mountain biked before, I had never biked Northstar, so I took a session with the Northstar Specialized Bike Academy, which provided me with a certified coach who gave me some intel on trails, while also providing some mountain biking tips and tricks that had previously been unbeknownst to me. In other words, it kept me from biting the dust, which I only did once when coming around a short turn.
The upside to Northstar California’s Bike Park? It’s downhill! And it’s next-level downhill mountain biking. That’s evident with Northstar being a three-time top five winner in the MTBparks.com Riders’ Choice Best Bike Parks Awards. One moment you’ll be riding down wide trails with sweeping views of the valley below, while the next making hairpin turns beneath the cover of tall pines, and next speeding over jumps. It’s a playground for mountain bikers, and the best feature of summer at Northstar California.
Needless to say, after three hours of mountain biking for the first time in years, I was awfully sore the next morning, having used muscles I didn’t even know were required for downhill biking. So I kept it safe that following day by hiking Northstar’s own lake, Sawmill Lake, which is a three-mile round-trip hike that begins after getting off the gondola. It couldn’t have felt like a more Sierra Nevadan day, standing on a large boulder at the edge of the lake, looking out at all pines dotting the rolling landscape. The hike was easy, and even kid-friendly, and one of a couple trails that Northstar’s guided hikes take on weekends (leaving at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.). Some of the other, higher elevation hikes include views of Lake Tahoe, and even connect with the Tahoe Rim Trail, which is a 165-mile hiking trail that circles the lake.
Another perk of the 10-acre Sawmill Lake is that guests can fish it for rainbow trout. Reservations, however, are required, which can be reserved by email or phone.
Tahoe Star Tours
That’s Tahoe Star Tours as in a tour of the sky, and not a tour of celebrity homes. This might not exactly sound like your idea of a summer adventure, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many stars as I’ve seen in North Lake Tahoe, making the area one of the foremost places on the West Coast for night photography and stargazing. Your tour host, Tony Berendsen, owner of Tahoe Star Tours and former president of the Northern Nevada Science Coalition, leads guests on a tour of Tahoe’s night skies on weekend evenings throughout the summer. Tickets also include blankets, heaters, coffee, hot chocolate, s’mores, and use of state-of-the-art telescopes. This isn’t just something you can do at any ski resort, summer or winter, and yet another thing that makes summer at Northstar California so unique.