Tahoe National Forest
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  • Special Places

    The Tahoe National Forest has an abundance of wonderful places to explore including:

    • scenic vistas
    • hidden waterfalls
    • deeply incised canyons
    • wildflower laden meadows
    • rough and tumble rivers and
    • serene lakes and reservoirs

    We invite you to explore these special places, keeping in mind that this is a popular forest. Interstate 80 enables easy access from San Francisco, Sacramento, and Reno in just an hour or two. With this access comes responsibility; please do your part to help keep the Forest clean and healthy. 

    Granite Chief Wilderness straddles the Sierra Nevada crest and is especially scenic with rugged granite cliffs, alpine meadows, and dense pockets of fir. It includes the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the American River. Snow is often found year round with elevations ranging from 6,000 to 9,000 ft. The Pacific Crest Trail bisects the Wilderness. 

    North Fork American Wild and Scenic River was Congressionally designated in 1978 as a Wild and Scenic river. Many non-motorized trails extend into the steep canyon from both the north and south rims. Often the western-most trails are accessible during late fall or spring when much of the Forest is snow covered. This is a beautiful river to explore. 

    Placer Big Trees grove is the most northerly stand of naturally occurring Giant Sequoias, Sequoiadendron giganteum, and is found 22 miles east of Foresthill overlooking the Middle Fork American River. This area has been designated as a Botanical Special Interest Area by the Forest Service. The trees have been a popular tourist attraction since the 1800s and each bears the name of a prominent American. A nature trail and picnic area offer visitors a nice lunch or rest stop.

    Historical Sites throughout the Forest provide a window into the past. Due to early pioneer and mining endeavors, a wealth of historic townsites, encampments, trails, wayside stations, and mines can be found. Some of these unique sites include:

    • The Boca Townsite Trail located east of Truckee re-creates images of the historic town of Boca. The town was first built as a construction camp for the Central Pacific Railroad and later provided ice and timber for the Boca Mill and Ice Company.  
    • The Donner Camp Trail north of Truckee explains the history of the George and Jacob Donner families, trapped at Alder Creek while emigrating to California. 
    • The Kentucky Mine near Sierra City was opened in 1850 and was in continuous operation for almost a century. Now a museum, it depicts the gold rush and later mining developments and is open for public tours.
    • Kyburz Flat Interpretive Area off Hwy 89 north of Truckee explores three historic sites covering Native American petroglyph rock art called cupules, an early stage stop on Henness Pass Road, and the historic Wheeler Sheep Camp with picnic area and reconstructed brick oven.

    Historic Fire Lookouts throughout the forest can be visited and in some cases rented for overnight stays.       

    Calpine Lookout (northwest of Sierraville) was restored and now is available for rent at $45 per night. This lookout was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934. It was an active lookout every summer until 1975. The structure consists of a ground floor room, a middle storeroom, and the observation cab/sleeping area on top. This site can be reserved by calling Toll Free 1-877-444-6777 (International 518-885-3639 or TDD 877-833-6777) or on-line at www.recreation.gov/. More information is available from the Sierraville Ranger Station, 530-994-3401.

    Sardine Lookout (southeast of Sierraville) has just completed renovations and is expected to become available as a rental soon. This lookout was also built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. More information is available from the Sierraville Ranger Station, (530) 430-7093

    Grouse Ridge Lookout (northeast of Nevada City) is also being renovated for future rental. This lookout is one of the earliest lookouts on the forest and was built in 1923. Volunteers and the Forest Service are working to raise funds and to restore this facility. More information is available from the Forest Headquarters 530-265-4531