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Adventure of the week: Hike the ring around the gem that is Tahoe

It took a corps of volunteers 20 years to create the eight-segment, 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail, which officially opened in September 2001. It was an incredible feat.

Now through the end of November, the Tahoe Rim Trail Association (TRTA) will celebrate the trail's 25th anniversary with a special hike, plus continuing events and festivities.

That special 11-day fundraising hike -- which will take 20 participants along the entire length of the trail beginning Aug. 25 -- has filled up, but don't fret. The trail still will be there for anyone who wants a long walk -- or a short one.

"We're celebrating our past and looking forward to doing a lot of future projects on the trail," said Erin Casey, associate director of the TRTA. "Of course, we're always looking for volunteers to work on the trail."

On that topic, hikers will have opportunities to do trail maintenance during the annual TRTA Back Country Camps events, Thursday through Saturday and Sept. 1-4. Meals and hiking are part of the package, which costs $25 for adults and $15 for children 11 and younger. For details and to register: Erin Casey at (775) 298-0232 or e-mail erinc@tahoerimtrail.org. Directions to the site near Armstrong Pass will be given to those who sign up.

Not long ago, we were hiking part of the TRT -- specifically, the Tahoe Meadows-to-Spooner Summit segment -- when we paused to appreciate the amazing vistas. Below us were startling views of Sand Harbor and Kings Beach on the lake's Nevada shoreline. Across bright-blue Lake Tahoe loomed the Crystal Range, backbone of the Desolation Wilderness Area.

Also that day, we saw the four highest mountain peaks in the Tahoe Basin -- Freel Peak (10,881 feet), Job's Sister (10,766 feet), Mount Rose (10,766 feet) and Job's Peak (10,663 feet). We also passed by Washoe Lake and the beginning of the Great Basin, a desert that runs through Nevada and all the way to Salt Lake City.

The TRT is a loop trail that circumnavigates the Tahoe Basin, sweeping along ridges and mountaintops. Ranging in elevation from 6,200 feet to 10,333 feet, it takes hikers through a variety of environments: meadows, forests, lakes, streams, volcanic rock and granite cliffs.

The trail runs through the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, three national forests (Eldorado, Tahoe and Humboldt-Toiyabe) and three wilderness areas (Desolation, Mount Rose and Granite Chief). It overlaps 43 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail (which runs from Mexico to Canada) and shares space with some of the American Discovery Trail (which wanders from Point Reyes National Seashore to Delaware).

For maps and details on upcoming events: (775) 298-0012 or www.tahoerimtrail.org.

Two books are especially helpful: "Tahoe Rim Trail: Exploring the Jewel" by Mark Vollmer and Scott Sady (Carmel Publishing Co., $35, 160 pages); and "The Tahoe Rim Trail: A Complete Guide for Hikers, Mountain Bikers and Equestrians" by Tim Hauserman (Wilderness Press, $15.95, 160 pages).

Eight ways in to the loop o' the lake

The 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail can be reached from numerous trailheads. The eight segments are:

Barker Pass-Tahoe City: 13 miles running north from Barker Pass (7,640 feet) to Twin Peaks (8,880 feet) and then down through Paige Meadows to Tahoe City. The trailhead is on Blackwood Canyon Road between Tahoe City and Homewood.

Tahoe City-Brockway: 19 miles from Tahoe City (elevation 6,300 feet) to Brockway Summit (7,200 feet). The trailhead is on Fairway Drive in Tahoe City.

Brockway Summit-Tahoe Meadows: 18 miles from Brockway Summit (7,200 feet) to just beneath Martis Peak (8,660 feet) to the Mount Rose Highway. The trailhead is on Highway 267, a half-mile south of Brockway Summit.

Tahoe Meadows to Spooner Summit: 21 miles dipping from 8,560 feet to 7,150 feet and snaking around the granite peaks of the Carson Range. Trailheads are on the southeast side of Nevada's Highway 431 and on the north side of Highway 50 at the Spooner Summit sign.

Spooner Summit South- Kingsbury North: 12 miles across the rocky spine of the Carson Range (7,150 to 7,920 feet). Trailheads are on the south side of Highway 50 at the Forest Service picnic area; and at Andria Drive on the Kingsbury Grade end.

Kingsbury South (Heavenly Stagecoach)-Big Meadow: 22.5 miles (7,200 to 7,520 feet) across the forested slopes of the Carson Range. Trailheads are on the north side of Highway 89 about five miles south of its junction with Highway 50 in Meyers; on the south side of Highway 89 about another mile south; and at the Heavenly Stagecoach parking lot.

Big Meadow-Echo Lake: 16 miles of trail run between the Big Meadow (7,200 feet) and Echo Summit (7,400 feet) trailheads; another two miles link Echo Summit and Echo Lake. Trailheads are on Highway 89 for the Big Meadow end, and on Highway 50 and at Echo Lake for the other entry/exit points.

Echo Lakes-Barker Pass: 32 miles through the heart of the Desolation Wilderness (7,420 to 7,640 feet). Trailheads are on Blackwood Canyon Road, Echo Lake (off Highway 50), and Bayview Campground on Highway 89 eight miles north of its junction with Highway 50.

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