Hiking Chickadee Ridge, Lake Tahoe
Have you ever stuck your hand out with a few seeds on it, only to have a cute little chickadee land on your fingers and pluck that morsel off of your palm? No? If this sounds fun and you want to channel your inner Snow White, Chickadee Ridge is your place to go for an experience like no other.
This 3.5 mile round trip hike is moderate and a good time in winter or summer. If you go in the winter, I’d advise you bring a pair of snowshoes, and in the summer, hiking or trail running shoes will do the trick. No matter when you go though, make sure to bring some bird seed for the cute black-capped chickadees! These little cuties are a staple in Lake Tahoe and often called Cheeseburger Birds because of their sweet call that literally sounds like “cheese-bur-ger.”
To get there from North Lake Tahoe, take Hwy 431 from Incline Village towards Reno. When you are almost at the summit, you will come to a large meadow (Sheeps Flats) that is impossible to miss. Park just before the meadow begins and the trees end, on the right side of the road. You will see a small sign for the Tahoe Rim Trail just off the highway, pictured below. (Note: During big winters, some of these signs are buried under feet of snow.)
Follow this trail through the woods until you come to another sign for Ophir Creek Trail (again, this might not be visible in large snow years). Veer slightly right (toward the straight arrow on the sign below) and continue on the trail.
From here, the trail will split all over the place in the winter. In the summer, it is pretty straight-forward to follow until the next sign, pictured below.
This trail has become so popular in the winter, that it is hard to stay on the actual Tahoe Rim Trail. No matter what trail you take though, if you continue to head southwest and toward the top of the ridge line ahead, you will make it to Chickadee Ridge in a little less than 2 miles total. Once you make it to the top, the views of the lake are amazing.
This is also where it is time to pull that seed out of your pocket and put a few in your palm. Look for the chickadees in the trees and if you hold still long enough, they will soon be eating out of your hand.
There were a few places on the trail today where they seemed to be more active than others. No matter what though, if you have patience and take note of where they are, you should be able to experience an amazing moment where a little chickadee will land on your hand.