Escape the snow-loving crowds on a moderately challenging 6-mile (round-trip) ski near Carson Pass Summit. You’ll actually have bragging rights for doing part of the Pacific Crest Trail in winter! From Meiss Meadows Sno-Park, head west and uphill, contouring along a slope dotted with scattered Sierra junipers and white firs. You’re roughly following the route of the Pacific Crest Trail, hidden under several feet of snow. As you huff and puff uphill, angle toward the obvious saddle to the north. Pause along the way to catch your breath and admire the view of imposing 10,381-foot Mount Round Top to the south.
At the crest, check your bindings and drop down the other side. A whooping-and-hollering glide deposits you into the Upper Truckee River canyon. Follow the frozen river through this broad, open valley to the historic Meiss cabin and barn (only their roofs show above the thick blanket of snow). German immigrant Louis Meiss built this homestead in 1880; several generations of his family grazed cattle in Meiss Meadow. Pull your thermos out of your pack and toast these early pioneers before retracing your tracks back to your car.
Trailhead: Park at the Meiss Meadow Sno-Park on the north side of Highway 88, just west of Carson Pass summit. There are a number of gear rental options including Lake of the Sky Outfitters, Sierra Ski & Cycle Works, Powder House, and Tahoe Sports LTD. California Sno-Park permit required ($5). Note: Check weather report before embarking on this adventure. Dog-friendly!