In Summer 2011, the respective parks departments in California and Nevada got together to open Van Sickle Bi-State Park here at Lake Tahoe. Because the park is relatively new, it doesn’t seem to get the visitor traffic of some of the other parks in the area, but this is a gem of a park for a number of reasons.
Reason 1: You don’t have to drive there. If you’re visiting, and you’re staying near the Heavenly Village, you can actually walk to the park and its trailhead. The park entrance is actually behind the Heavenly Gondola which goes right over the top of the park.
Reason 2: Two states are better than one. People get really jazzed about skiing/hiking/boating/drinking in two states in the same day. Van Sickle celebrates this with a really cool placard that stretches across the street at the demarcation line with the words “California” on one side and “Nevada” on the other. As a local, I pretend to be unaffected by the pomp and circumstance, but I secretly wish that I could flash the “rock on” sign at the camera while straddling this landmark.
Reason 3: The payoff is huge – and quick. Made-to-order for our attention-deficit-afflicted society, within about a 10-or-so-minute hike you can achieve stunning views of Lake Tahoe – which is really the goal of just about any hike around here, right?
Reason 4: You can get your City Slicker on. A historic barn, that was rumored to have once been part of a dude ranch, provides the cultural interpretive opportunity. Rustle up Curly and Bruno Kirby and it’s on!
Reason 5: It’s super kid-friendly. This place is so kid-friendly that you could spend two hours here and never leave the parking lot! The picnic area offers boulders and natural caves that provides hours of exploring and mini-adventures for the little ones. And you can hike for a good 20 minutes before it gets challenging, which makes for a great out-and-back for the five-and-under set.
Overall, I recommend this hike for its terrain, scenic views, picnic area and proximity to major lodging. Whether you’re a hard-charger or like to cruise, Van Sickle Bi-State Park is worth the visit!
~Russ Pecoraro, Director of Communications