Prey Meadows/ Skunk Harbor – Lake Tahoe Hiking Trails
This is an easy and rewarding 3 mile hike/walk through a mixed conifer forest with glimpses and tree-filtered views of Lake Tahoe along the way. Accessible from March to November, this is a perfect trail for the kids and dogs, too. This trail also has some interesting history – most of the path dates back to the time when the slope was logged to provide lumber for Virginia City silver mines during the nineteenth century. The grade for the logging railroad worked this part of the forest. Along the trail, look for the remains of an old railroad grade that used to hug the cliff. This was used by trains going up the incline railroad. About a half mile down the trail, you’ll reach a fork. The left fork leads to sun-washed Prey Meadows and the right fork leads to secluded Skunk Harbor.
Prey Meadows is especially beautiful in spring and summer because of the many wildflowers of the meadow, which makes the walk quite colorful and enjoyable. You’ll see a myriad of different varieties including pink buckwheats, red snowplants, yellow Sierra wallflowers, and spotted mountain bells. In the meadow you can wander along the creek and see the small flowers along its banks. It’s an incredibly pretty spot for a picnic, and the kids will love running around in the long grass.
The right fork of the trail leads along a winding descent to the shore of Lake Tahoe. There’s a large gray stone structure that sits near the lakeshore and was built in the 1920s by a prominent San Franciscan family – the Newhalls – as an out-of-the-way picnic spot. Skunk Harbor, a picturesque cove along this section of the lake is perfect for swimming or sunbathing in the summer. Dogs adore this area, and are allowed off leash.
If you allow enough time, you’ll be able to visit both Prey Meadows and Skunk Harbor, as the round trip to the harbor is about 3 miles and to Prey Meadows is approximately the same distance. To get there, take Highway 28 north from Highway 50 approximately 2 miles. Look for an iron pope gate on the west side of the highway and park in one of the turnouts. Make sure not to block the gate, or you may get fined.