The Tahoe Trail, Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada, home to the great Californian goldrush, was uplifted thousands of feet by immense forces millions of years ago. Fast forward to the Pleistocene era, which started about 1,600,000 years ago and only finished around 10,000 years ago, the valleys that the rivers had cut deep into the sides of the uplands for treated to cycles of deep ice deposits followed by thaws which resulted in massive glaciation which carved carved U-shaped valleys topped by an ice cap which extended for about 200 miles from Mount Whitney all the way to Lake Tahoe. The actions of wind, rain and ice has created spectacular scenery and, in particular, the deep blue Lake Tahoe which is the grandest, and deepest Alpine lake on Earth, covering more than 200 square miles, diving to around 500 metres at it's deepest point and surrounded by snow capped peaks.

Dark, volcanic cliff faces contrast with lush, green forestry and giant Sequoia trees so it is hardly surprising that the area has become so popular as an all - the - year - round centre for recreation. Finished in 2001 a loop trail was built around the rim of the lake, extending to over 160 miles in all and taking walkers through a spectacular variety of vistas from high mountain peaks to peaceful, green valleys. Built mainly for the convenience of walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers the gradient rarely exceeds 10% and it's difficult to get lost; because it's just one enormous loop, wherever you start from, you'll finish up back at again!

All this comes at a price. It took mother nature with all her powers millions of years to create Lake Tahoe in all it's spectacular beauty; it's only taking a couple of generations of humans to spoil it. A magnet for tourists, the region suffers all the problems that masses of people bring with them; traffic congestion, degradation of the flora and fauna, pollution of the air and water, and sewage disposal problems.

 

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