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One of the major draws to the Truckee-Tahoe area is, of course, the stunning beauty of Lake Tahoe. I was fortunate to have friends with lakeside homes that I visited numerous times a year for the first three decades of my life, both in summer and winter. It was a playground I loved, but didn’t think that much about because I spent plenty of time there.

Today, living in the Lost Sierra, I don’t go to Lake Tahoe that often, but when I do, my breath still catches at the first glimpse the lake. It’s just that majestic. But the public beaches and access points have become so crowded, it’s just not an enjoyable experience for me.

What I love about living in the Lost Sierra is the sheer number of gorgeous Alpine lakes that are accessible by foot, bike or car. The hardest decision I make most days is, “Which lake shall I hike to or swim in today?” So let’s take a little tour of the Lost Sierra lakes that are right in Nakoma’s back yard. This is by no means an exhaustive list of lakes, but it will give you a sneak peek into one of the great joys of living in the Lost Sierra.

Sardine Lake – for sheer beauty, Sardine Lake is hard to beat in its forested bowl with the Sierra Buttes jutting skyward so strikingly. You can kayak or fish at Sardine, and for swimming it’s just a short hike up the hill to Upper Sardine. Or, if you have young kids, just down the road from Sardine you’ll find Sand Pond, which is aptly named for its sandy bottom and shallow depth.


Bear-Round-Silver-Long Lakes – For the casual hikers both young and old, the commonly called “Bear Lakes Loop Trail” in Lakes Basin Recreation Area provides an astonishing number of gorgeous lakes per mile of hike. The basic loop is just a few miles, but there are offshoots to Round Lake and Silver Lake if you want to extend the hike and increase your lake intake. All the lakes are swimmable and make perfect picnic spots on a warm summer day.


Gold Lake – What I call our “Mini Tahoe” is a beautiful, crystal-clear lake nearly 2 miles long with boat launching facilities and a campground along one shore. There’s also a shallow water shoreline just a couple hundred yards from the road with plenty of parking for a long day in the water and sun and easy access for launching a kayak. One of the most special summer treats is moonlight kayaks on this beautiful lake.

Rock, Jamison, Wade Lakes – Located high in Plumas Eureka State Park, it’s a bit more strenuous hike to get to these three lakes but totally worth the effort. Rock Lake looks like an infinity pool from some angles, Jamison has a small waterfall at one end that feels so good pouring on your head on a hot day and Wade has lots of shady spots for a well-deserved picnic.


Lake Davis – This huge man-made reservoir was built specifically for recreation. It’s at the north end of the Sierra Valley, above the town of Portola and is on the flyway for thousands of migrating birds making it a wonderful wildlife viewing lake. You can swim, fish, kayak and bike on the bike path that goes along the south and eastern side of the lake. There are a couple boat ramps to launch fishing boats or kayaks and several campground and picnic areas along the nearly 32 miles of shoreline.

None of these lakes compare in sheer majesty with Lake Tahoe, but for plenitude and accessibility, the Lost Sierra is truly a water wonderland.



The Sierra Valley is a natural treasure trove that lies just east of Nakoma and can be easily accessed via Hwy 70. This 120,000 acre wetlands is about the size of Lake Tahoe and supports an astonishing diversity of bird life. Over 230 species make the valley their habitat, in addition, the valley is part of the Pacific Flyway for hundreds of migratory birds who travel north-south seasonally.

Mid-March through early May are ideal times to view thousands of migratory birds making their way north. My personal favorite is the Sandhill Crane which makes a decidedly un-birdlike guttural sound and has quite the distinctive dance steps in its mating ritual. These are large birds that travel in enormous flocks that you hear coming long before you can spot them hundreds of feet overhead. It’s not unusual to find cars pulled to the side of Hwy 70 watching these magnificent birds organizing themselves into a broad V to continue their annual migration.

In the fall, the valley supports an equally enjoyable variety of raptors. Bald eagles and Red-tailed Hawks are commonly seen, and Golden Eagles have also been spotted. Bird watchers report that migrating flocks of waterfowl and songbirds can also be seen in the fall.

The Valley is also home to a variety of wildlife. A herd of Pronghorn can be seen regularly along Hwy 70 and deer and coyotes are also a common sight.

The Sierra Valley has a rich history and is largely made up of privately-owned ranches, many of which have been placed into conservation through the Feather River Land Trust to preserve the land from future development. The valley forms the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Feather River, which is part of the California State Water Project, a system that provides drinking water to over 20 million Californians. The Land Trust is dedicated to protecting this water source for both drinking water and the wildlife that depend on it.

For more information, contact the East Sierra Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Photos by S. Pettengill



It’s probably strange for pretty much everybody to think about how different this year’s Easter celebration is from previous years. Last year my two sons and I closed down Northstar on Easter, skiing quite literally up to the last minute, and talking excitedly on the way home about moving on to a great season of mountain biking. 

This year, the Tahoe ski resorts all closed in mid-March and the Lost and Found gravel grinder bike race in Portola, which I was training for diligently at this time last year, has been cancelled.

We’re celebrating Easter 2020 in a much different way, but we are celebrating nonetheless. This time of year, which is indelibly attached to a sense of hope and renewal, is living up to its reputation in the Lost Sierra, as the mammoth snowfall that March brought is quickly melting away into a beautiful spring. 

To say that we find ourselves in an ideal spot for when the world has gotten weird is an understatement. “Thankful” doesn’t adequately describe the feeling, it’s more like “amazed by our luck, in awe of the vast beauty around us, and self-conscious about the people who are suffering from this illness and the painful consequences it has brought with it.”

While large Easter gatherings are out of the picture this year, the Nakoma family has found a way for us to celebrate together. Brooke Miller, our Food and Beverage director, is sweating away in the kitchen as I write this, preparing free three-course, world-class Easter-meals-to-go for all Nakoma employees, whether they’re currently working or not (I’m pretty sure her virtual Easter party is up to over 80 attendees).

Personally, what I’ve found over the last few weeks is that a lot of us are digging a lot deeper into the great things in our immediate environment: spending more time with family, getting out into nature more -snowshoeing in the Lakes Basin, going for a hike on some the lesser-used trails in or neighborhood. 

For me, finding myself suddenly relieved of the sense of burden in training for the Lost and Found bike race, I’ve started going on gravel rides that are less “workout” and more “adventure” — unplanned, no particular pace or route, just getting out there and riding. Rather than hustling kids, skis and jackets into a car to get a family on the slopes, time with family has meant exploring some of the many nooks of Plumas County that we’ve been neglecting, like the North Fork of the Feather River Canyon, where we spent an afternoon catching California newts, spotting bald eagles (well, one bald eagle), and gawking at lush waterfalls.

We hope our friends outside the Lost Sierra are managing to find the things that are rewarding for them and making the best of the time with family. We sincerely wish you all a Happy Easter and hope that the somber nature of the times doesn’t keep you from enjoying the holiday and being hopeful about the days to come. 

Dan Gallagher is Vice President of Development at Nakoma Resort. Along with being a husband and father, Dan loves everything outdoors. Thanks to field studies in pursuit of his degree in biology and forestry from U.C. Berkeley and several years of wildland firefighting on the Plumas National Forest, Dan knows the Lost Sierra like the back of his hand. 

Soaring peaks, sparkling alpine lakes and pine-scented forest: The Lost Sierra is your respite from the daily grind. Whether you’re exploring a section of the Pacific Crest Trail or swimming in Gold Lake, Nakoma is your base camp for adventure.

You’ll head to the trail with a picnic lunch and then return to Nakoma for dinner in our fantastic Frank Lloyd Wright designed building. 

The Hike-&-Stay package also includes a copy of “Feather River Country Adventure Trails”, a guide book with maps, descriptions and photos of 101 hikes in the greater Lost Sierra region.


  • Lodge guest room for two people for one night*
  • Dinner for two in Wigwam Restaurant & Bar on the night of arrival**
  • Bento Box lunch for two from Altitude for your second day of hiking
  • Hiking book by Tom DeMund
  • Resort Fee included
  • $389 per night

Offer valid Sunday through Thursday (May 29-Oct. 31, 2020)
*Does not including sales tax.
**Dinner includes: Side salad, choice of entree, and dessert. Does not include alcohol.
***Please note: the Wigwam is closed for dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to select “SHOW RATES” below to properly select the Hike & Stay package.