7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
From Spooner Summit to Kingsbury, the Tahoe Rim Trail winds through dense forest on the west-facing slopes above Lake Tahoe.
A 1-mile section called The Bench grants incredible, non-stop views over the lake.
Other than that, most of the trail is concealed in the shade of lush firs and aspens, with occasional open meadows. Begin by climbing steadily up from Highway 207 at Spooner Summit, passing in and out of shade and sun, through stands of conifer and fields of flowers.
When you come to groves of aspen trees, look closely for old carvings in the trunks.
Shepherds who moved here from Spain in the 1800s lived in isolation among these mountains with their sheep, and would sometimes draw on the trees to abate their boredom.
Observe these traces of history, but please do not add marks of your own to the trees. On the flank of South Camp Peak, the gradient levels out and the trail crosses a huge volcanic talus slope.
This is The Bench, with its wonderful vantage over Lake Tahoe.
The trail trends downward from here and enters more dark and quiet woods, through which it meanders for several miles. Signs of civilization reappear near the neighborhoods of Kingsbury.
The route intersects a few other trails near town, then passes close to some houses before reaching Highway 207.
Continue across the road and head uphill once again, crossing a small creek and wet meadows over the course of a few miles, then crossing two ski runs of Heavenly Mountain Resort.
This marks the end of the section, and a half-mile connector trail down the ski slopes leads to a trailhead on Quaking Aspen Lane.