Cross-country ski and stay at Spooner Lake
Looking to spend a night in a charming log cabin that feels like it is in the middle of nowhere but is actually only a mile from the trailhead? Even better, what if your cabin is right smack in the middle of an awesome cross-country ski area and the only way to get there is to ski or snowshoe? If this sounds up your alley, you might try the Wild Cat or Spooner Log Cabins at Spooner Lake Cross-Country Ski Area in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. During the summer and fall, Spooner Lake provides access to the Flume Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail, but during the winter, Spooner Lake is a thriving cross-country ski area—the only groomed cross-country ski resort in Nevada—with 80 kilometers of trails. Spooner’s trails provide access to frozen-over Marlette Lake and Saint’s Rest, which affords Lake Tahoe views that rival the Flume Trail.
Spooner’s hand-hewn log cabins were built from downed trees dragged to the building site. The cabins are rustic but very charming. There are no showers—several gallons of drinking and cooking water per day are carried in—but the cabins do have an odor-free compost toilet, gas stove, beds, coffee and cocoa. You bring in all your food and everything else you need (and can carry on your back) because once you get there, the only reason you will want to leave is to ski.
My favorite cabin is the smaller of the two, Wild Cat, which is situated in an opening on a little knoll among the pines. It’s about two miles and several hundred feet in elevation from the trailhead at Spooner Lake. I spent a wonderful summer night here several years ago on day six of a through-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail, which is just a few miles away. Set away from the North Canyon trail, which heads up to Marlette Lake, Wild Cat is very private with a view of Emerald Bay over granite boulders.
While enjoying your escape, be sure to peruse the several years worth of guest books detailing the romantic adventures of past visitors. Apparently, people can’t seem to resist proposing marriage when they get here. The cabin is a perfect size for a couple, but two adults and two children could fit snugly.
The Spooner Lake Cabin is situated above Spooner Lake, just three-quarters of a mile over level terrain from the trailhead. The cabin is similar to Wild Cat but larger, providing sleeping for up to four adults and two children. While the cabin is close to the trail network and is quite accessible, it is not clearly visible. If the two-mile ski or snowshoe with lots of food and gear up to Wild Cat seems a bit daunting, the shorter and easier jaunt to the Spooner Cabin may be more your style.