Published on September 12th, 2013 | by Charu Suri
5 A Toddler-Friendly Subalpine Mountain Walk in Lake Tahoe
Subalpine mountain flowers, dew-lit grass and the fresh sound of birds everywhere.
There we all were, Erika and her baby cousins, enjoying the fresh mountain air and preparing to hike (or walk?) the fairly easy Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Loop trail, one of the more forgiving yet verdant trails in Incline Village.
After a brief drive along the unhurried road towards Nevada, we pulled into the parking lot off Mount Rose Highway, and gazed at the almost pin-quiet surroundings. A few hikers were ahead of us on the Interpretive Loop trail, which was slope-less and well-trodden, making it easy for both strollers and seasoned walkers too. It does have its ups and downs, but the terrain is mostly very forgiving.
So forgiving in fact, that the little ones were practically running like Forrest Gump along the winding loop, complete with neatly-constructed wooden bridges and plenty of wide open spaces filled with mountain flowers.
The paths around the trail are covered with footprints of mammals, and it is not unusual to spot deer and brown hares darting to and fro (we didn’t, but heard the melodious harmonics of songbirds). Just inhaling a swift pint of clean mountain air did all our lungs some good.
Out of Lake Tahoe’s many State Parks, including Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss, the Interpretive Loop has been referred to as the most infant and toddler friendly, and it truly is one of those beautiful walks that are both idyllic and serene. If you’re into meditation, bring a yoga mat and relax on a few spots along the trail –there are hardly any people around.
An easy 1.3 miles went by within the space of an hour, and what I really missed the most during the hike was not having downloaded the Audubon app installed on my iPhone to figure out what melodies were pouring from the trees. Erika was content to look at all the flowers, and at one point ventured off into the shrubs to gather more. Anika, Erika’s cousin, led the entire hiking crew with nothing short of some major verve, and championed the singing of many favorite children’s tunes from If You’re Happy and You Know It to Sesame Street.
At the end of the hike, we had fast forwarded through several movies and caught up on baby stories (she did what?) enough to warrant that proverbial pint of frothy beer. I loved hiking the subalpine trail: I felt as though I was in Switzerland, in the valley of Zermatt, gazing at slopes of alpine spruce and the coolest blue sky for miles.
To reach the Interpretive Loop, drive on Mt. Rose Highway from Incline Village, then turn onto NV-431, and in 7.4 miles you’ll see the Tahoe Meadows Trailhead parking lot.