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Ski trails, guided tours, snow camping; 10 miles south of Tahoe City.

Weaving among stately old trees on the western side of Lake Tahoe, four nordic ski trails loop past some spectacular scenergy in Sugar Pine Point State Park. Two edge the late; the others take you along a creek. You can ski on your own, join ranger-led tours, or go snow camping. Lakeside trails--old yellow, new orange

Two trails start from the day-use parking lot on the east side of State 89 about 10 miles south of Tahoe City.

The longer--called Yellow Trail on park ski maps because ribbons and markers for the path are yellow--is a good 2-mile loop running through the park's Edwin L. Z'Berg Natural Preserve. The trailhead is behind the rest rooms (open in winter).

After a tricky start down a short but steep, often icy hill, ski across General Creek, then along the edge of the lake through old stands of pine, fir, and huge incense cedar. Take time to savor the view through the trees over Lake Tahoe's intense blue waters to the snow-dappled east shore. The path winds back through thick groves spotted with vest-pocket meadows.

New this year is the easy 1-1/4-mile Orange Trail, which loops south toward the lake from the tennis court near the picnic area by the parking lot.

Because of the low lakeside elevation (6,225 feet), the best time to go is right after a snowfall; exposed snow can become patchy if weather warms between storms. Last winter, a heavy snow year, the trails were skiable into April.

From the parking area, you can walk to the nearby Ehrman Mansion, a three-story Queen Anne built in 1902 and now a museum (closed in winter). This is also a good spot for snow play, but choose a slope where zealous sliders won't overshoot the shore into the lake. Two more trails; guided winter outings

Nordic skiers looking for a longer trek can take the 5-1/2-mile Red Trail loop up General Creek; start from the General Creek Campground parking lot (on State 89, turn west 1/2 mile north of the Sugar Pine Point day-use area). This trail is good for confident beginners; a few up- and down-hill stretches break the relatively level grade above the creek bank.

The blue Trail, a quick, flat 2-mile loop, also starts from the parking lot.

This winter, park rangers will lead several 4- to 5-hour outings. January 7 will focus on animals in winter; January 21, get an introduction to cross-country skiing; January 22 will emphasize winter survival. A February 12 outing will repeat the animal program; February 18 through 20 will see a two-night lesson in snow camping (25-camper limit; sign up early).

Day programs meet in the campground parking lot at 10; to check conditions and equipment, call (916) 525-7232 weekdays between 8 and 4:30. For a list of California state park winter programs in the Tahoe basin, write to Sierra Area State Parks, Drawer D, Tahoma, Calif. 95733. General Creek Campground and the one at Grover Hot Springs are the only California state park campgrounds in the Tahoe area open year-round. At General Creek, parking strips at 17 sites are kept plowed and rest rooms are open.
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Date:Jan 1, 1984
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