The changing seasons of Page Meadows

By Tim Hauserman · 

 

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The grasshoppers are flying again in Page Meadows. For me, riding my bike through the waves of flying insects is as much a part of the ritual of August in Lake Tahoe as busy beaches and Concerts on the Commons.

The series of meadows that make up Page Meadows has its own set of seasons. Let’s begin our journey around the circle in the height of winter, when hopefully copious quantities of snow has buried the meadows in a deep layer of white. Sounds absolutely wonderful, doesn’t it?

Let’s hope after a several-year hiatus, this ritual returns again this year. A cross-country ski or snowshoe across the deep snow, pausing now and then to gander up at Twin Peaks or Ward Peak, would certainly hit the spot.

A chorus of frogs in spring
As the snow melts with the coming of spring, the meadows become shallow, marshy lakes surrounded by waves of wet grass. This is the time for music. For a short period of time, millions of frogs call out a chorus of ruckus invitations of “Let’s make love tonight.”

I remember a few years ago approaching the meadow while rocking out to a bit of Led Zeppelin on my iPod. About a hundred yards from the edge of the first meadow, I began to hear a sound even louder then the “Whole Lotta Love” that was pounding my ears. Frogs. So loud and so wonderful that once I reached the meadow I had to just sit at the edge and listen for an hour.

Then, I noticed that while I could hear a cacophony of sound coming from the frogs, I realized they must be quite well disguised because while I stood over where the blaring sound was coming from, I couldn’t see one of the little hoppers.

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Courtsey of Tim Hauserman · 

Blooms of summer
As the little ponds begin to dry, the frogs quiet down and the flowers begin to bloom. Each week, month and year seem to give a different flora display. This past year, the bluish-purple penstemons have been especially wild. Orange paintbrush is often a strong contender, and sometimes you will see a host of shooting stars.

As the temperatures rise, and the ground dries, the flowers fade away. They are replaced by the mid-summer grasses browning in the sun. And, then, it’s grasshopper time. They are out in droves as your bike tires send them into flight. Grasshoppers were eaten by Native American’s as a delicacy, and they are good bait for fishing. They also are treated as delicious snacks by the coyote population. Although it might take a thousand of these little buggers to feed a hungry coyote, there is no shortage of supply.

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Courtsey of Tim Hauserman · 

Fall extravaganza of color
Eventually, as the days get shorter and cooler, the yellow grasshoppers are replaced by the yellow and orange leaves of the aspen trees. Page Meadows is surrounded by groves of aspens and it becomes one of Tahoe’s best fall color extravaganzas by early to mid-October. Whether you take a short hike from one of the neighborhoods that surround Page, or roll your tires over from Tahoe City or Alpine Meadows, Page is a prime spot for leaf peepers.

Moonlight adventures in winter
Then as the wind does blow, and the snow does fall, Page Meadows fills again with snow. One last amazing adventure in the meadows awaits: A full moon snowshoe or ski into the meadow. The meadows shine as a great spot for a quiet glide in the moonlight. Time it to ski into the meadows while it is still light, then enjoy the arrival of the stars, before the brightness of the rising moon makes the stars fade into the light.

Getting to Page Meadows
One access point to Page is to take Granlibakken Road off of Highway 89 south of Tahoe City. Turn left on Rawhide Drive and look for the trail near the end of the road. Parking is limited; do not block the access road.

Visitors may also park at 64 Acres near the wye in Tahoe City and follow the dirt road to the Tahoe Rim Trail and follow the signs for Page Meadows for a longer and steeper climb.

Access is also available from Highway 89 south of Tahoe City by taking a right on Ward Avenue looking for the Tahoe Rim Trail access on the right side of the road.

 

For more information, visit tahoerimtrail.org.

 

Tim Hauserman
Tim wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, as well as “Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children” and the children’s book “Gertrude’s Tahoe Adventures in Time.” Most of the year he writes on a variety of topics, but you will find him in the winter teaching cross-country skiing and running the Strider Gliders program at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area. He has lived in Tahoe since he was a wee lad and loves to be outdoors road and mountain biking, hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking and cross-country skiing.