Boca Springs Campground is just 15 minutes off I80 east of Truckee but feels far away from the traffic and crowds that visit Lake Tahoe year around. At 5,900 ft, set on the edge of a meadow kept green by — you guessed it — Boca Springs, the 18 campsites are set well apart so you don’t feel hemmed in by your fellow campers. Each site is marked by a small stake with a number but beyond that it’s kind of up to you to figure out where your site ends and the adjacent site begins. The result is that people may park vehicles somewhat haphazardly!
We arrived on Thursday and pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Of course that couldn’t last. Sumer weekends in California mean people in the mountains — people like us — and our time at Boca Springs was no exception. By Friday evening almost all the sites were occupied, and we were sharing our side of the campground with four families, meaning numerous children, dogs, and off road vehicles (allowed at that campground). No matter, US Forest Service campgrounds are for everyone! And we were in search of hiking.
During our three days at Boca Springs we hiked two sections of the wonderful Tahoe Rim Trail, starting each time at the Brockway Summit Trailhead (easy to find on Google Maps, and I recommend the Gaia GPS Hiking app for trail navigation). First we headed north from the trailhead and in minutes the traffic noise faded away. Be sure and take the side trail to the Spur Trail View, also known as Picnic Rock. What a view!
There was plenty of snow on the distant peaks, and a few miles on there was also snow on the trail, so much snow that we could no longer find the trail. We had lunch and decided to head back to the trailhead. Every time we went uphill we could feel that we were at 7,000+ ft!
The next day we took the trail south from the trailhead and again were rewarded with wonderful views, as well as a creek side lunch spot.
The weather was perfect, the forest looked healthy, and there were no mosquitos; hiking doesn’t get much better than this.
On the way back to the trailhead we noticed numerous trees with regularly-spaced bands of lichens encircling their trunks.
It certainly looked odd. Why would the lichen grow in that pattern? The only thing I could think of was that maybe woodpeckers made a pattern of holes and the lichen preferentially colonized the holes in the bark. I explained my theory to Rosemary and said “But we haven’t heard any woodpeckers during our two days hiking this trail.”
We moved on, and a minute later we both clearly heard a woodpecker and burst out laughing. However, my theory remains unproven.