Tackling Tahoe’s terrain

Ripping around in the back country.

After we pull into the Prosser Hills OHV staging area a few miles north of Truckee on State Route 89, we are greeted by Off Road Tahoe owner Sean Field and communications manager Cassandra Walker. They direct us to a tent filled with snacks, helmets, waivers and, most prominently, state-of-the-art Utility Task Vehicles (UTV) ready to tackle any kind of terrain in the Tahoe National Forest.

We admire the gorgeous vistas and beautiful meadows as we bump and fly through the back country.

Field, who grew up in North Lake Tahoe, has spent more than 15 years ripping around on dirt bikes, quad runners and rock-crawling vehicles. He used to go out on these trails with his friends in his 1985 Toyota and yearned to share this experience with other people. Last year, he invested in a few two- and four-seat 2018 Can-Am Commanders with all of the bells and whistles. “Like your Baja race dream come true,” Field says.

It is the perfect day to go off-roading in Tahoe because it rained the day before and the trail is a little damp. We have embarked on the three-hour tour that covers about 21 miles of terrain in the Sierra; Field and Walker set the pace.

I start cruising along.

I am the driver and within the first few minutes, I’m splashing through mud puddles, climbing over jagged rocks, going through stretches of pine needles, wood chips and brushing up against manzanita. I try to keep up with Field; although he assures me several times that it’s OK to go at my own pace.

In the middle of nowhere, we come upon a beautiful paved bridge over Prosser Creek and stop to take some pictures. Then, we hop back in the UTVs and do some hill climbing to creep up to the top of mountains. We admire the gorgeous vistas and beautiful meadows as we bump and fly through the back country. I must have said, “It’s so beautiful,” at least a dozen times.

We get to our second stop, a peak overlooking Prosser, Boca and Stampede reservoirs. It feels so secluded in this quiet natural environment.

A view of Prosser Lake

“I like to think of this trail as the Overlook Playground,” Field says. He notes that he goes days without seeing anyone out here. You’re more likely to encounter a bear or deer on the trail.

Taking in the scenery, we hop back in the vehicles and careen over to our third overlook of the trip. We are in awe at the expansive scene in front of us. To the left we can see the backside of Tahoe Donner ski area, to the right is the backside of Castle Peak Ridge; underneath us is a pristine green pasture. We take a moment to soak in the views.

My boyfriend gets behind the wheel and he’s like a bat out of hell, careening down the mountain and going as fast as he can. He looked like a kid in a candy store. We stop at Sagehen Creek on the way back and bask in the relaxing sound of rushing water. For groups that want to have a catered lunch on their tour, this is a good place to stop.

About 20 minutes later, we arrive back at the trailhead with huge smiles on our faces. I loved driving the UTV, the beautiful overlooks and even being a passenger, which is like being on a roller coaster. Plus, Field and Walker are so friendly, accommodating and knowledgeable about the area; it’s comforting to know that all of Off Road Tahoe guides are Wilderness First Responder-certified and stewards of the land. The 4×4 vehicles are safe and comfortable — thanks to the automatic shock absorbers — and give you the chance to really explore.

Approaching the Prosser Creek bridge.

When I travel to other places, I seek out activities like this, so it was great to get to do this locally. This is a must-do experience for adventure seekers visiting Tahoe or locals looking for a new experience. | offroadtahoe.com