Tahoe National Forest
Located in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains, Tahoe National Forest encompasses more than 800,000 acres (324,000 hectares) of dense forest, rivers, snowcapped mountains, canyons, and lakes, providing you ample opportunity for outdoor recreation in Northern California.
The forest stretches from the Sierra Nevada foothills and across the Sierra crest to the California–Nevada state border, northwest of Lake Tahoe. In summer, visit Tahoe National Forest to camp, picknick, angle, kayak, and hike. In winter, try downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.
More than 625 miles (1,005 kilometers) of trails offer plenty of space for you to hike or mountain bike, including on a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. The forest is also home to the Sierra Buttes, which offers views of Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta. There are several campgrounds, such as Big Bend, Canyon Creek, Cottonwood Creek, and Meadow Lake.
Things to Know Before You Go
There is no admission fee to enter Tahoe National Forest.
National forests are public lands, but some private land exists inside the borders, so pay attention to any signage.
The forest headquarters are in Nevada City, with district ranger offices in Foresthill, Truckee, Camptonville, and Sierraville.
There is a visitor center open at Big Bend in summer.
How to Get There
Interstate 80 runs through the national forest between Gold Run and Truckee. Other routes include Highway 49, Highway 20, and Highway 89.
When to Get There
Summer is the busy season, when rivers typically flow after the snowmelt, and it’s not too cold for overnight camping. Ranger district offices are open Monday to Friday and closed on the weekends. Many campgrounds are closed in winter.
Tahoe National Forest does not include Lake Tahoe, but it’s not far away. Many visitors combine a weekend of camping or a day of hiking with a visit to North Lake Tahoe, which can be accessed with a roughly 1-hour drive along Interstate 80 to Truckee. Head to Tahoe City on the lake's north shore to enjoy restaurants, shops, biking, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. In winter, the lake is known for its many ski resorts.