A hike in a Sierra meadow

There are lots of trails to explore in the Lake Tahoe basin, and we took the grandkids on a “walk” from their cabin on Fallen Leaf lake all the way to a swimming beach on Lake Tahoe — an almost 7 mile hike. Naturally, there were a number of stops to rest and swim at places along the way, and there was a promise of ice cream at the end of the hike, and that’s all it took to get the kids there.

The water of Fallen Leaf lake is as clear as that of Lake Tahoe, but right now the water near shore is more of a greenish color due to all the pine pollen accumulating there. If the glaciers that created it had continued to carve their path from the Glen Alpine valley, this lake would simply be a bay of Lake Tahoe.
The trail along the east side of the lake wanders through countless meadows and stands of Jeffrey pine (the one that has a scent of vanilla wafting from the cracks in its bark). The tall meadow lupine was in full bloom.
Another blue-purple flower that I thought was forget-me-not turned out to be Pacific Hound’s Tongue, so named for the shape of its basal leaves that resemble a dog’s tongue. The flowers were loaded with small Two-banded Checkered Skipper butterflies feasting on nectar.
Juncos are already far along in their nesting cycle, feeding their rapidly growing chicks.
A Red-breasted Sapsucker checked us out as we walked under him on our trek by the salmon run on Taylor Creek. I wonder if this is the same bird we saw here in April at this spot?
White-headed Woodpeckers are somewhat common in the pine forest here in the Tahoe basin. This female was feeding chicks in the nest (on her left) and not at all shy about us walking near her.

7 thoughts on “A hike in a Sierra meadow

    • Thanks, Mike. I had seen that species here before but never gotten photos of it. Now that we have been here several days, we’re starting to see them more frequently, everywhere we hike.

    • Thanks, Mike. I had seen these woodpeckers here before but never gotten photos of them. Having been here several days now, I find they are pretty common.

  1. Hi Sue,

    It seems my first post didn’t work so I’ll try again. That is a beautiful photo of Fallen Leaf Lake. Its water is so clear, very picturesque. 7 miles is a good hike. Of course I love the photos of the birds especially the very colorful red-breasted sapsucker. I have never seen a white-headed woodpecker. I’ll have to look for them when I visit my brother at his place in Lake Tahoe.

    • Hi Craig, The trail along the south side of Tahoe from Pope beach east seems attractive to many bird species. Also try the Rainbow trail at Taylor creek on 89, a forest service interpretive center. Recently we discovered a beautiful beach and trail at upper Truckee meadows just east of Tahoe keys. There were lots of birds this spring, but maybe fewer species this summer?

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