Volunteers finish 150-mile trail around Lake Tahoe

Sunday, October 21, 2001

STATELINE, Nev. -- After 20 years of tough pick-and-shovel work, volunteers finally have completed a 150-mile path around Lake Tahoe high in the Sierra Nevada.

The Tahoe Rim Trail, ranging from 6,300 feet to 10,300 feet above sea level, leads hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders from one breathtaking vista to another, along old game trails in some areas and Indian paths or pioneer routes in others.

The path runs through every sort of Sierra landscape: broad expanses of bare granite, wildflower-filled meadows, dense woods and forest clearings carpeted with pine needles, aspen-lined creeks and alpine lakes.

Standing on massive boulders along the way, hikers can gaze at towering mountain peaks, distant valleys in Nevada or California and the azure waters of Lake Tahoe, a stunning jewel among the world's high-mountain lakes.

"It's beautiful," says Nancy Brisack, who with her husband, Phil, worked on the trail for several seasons. "Lake Tahoe looks different in every light. It's awe-inspiring."

The Brisacks, who put in hundreds of trail-building hours over the past four years, are among an estimated 10,000 people who volunteered their time after the project was started in 1981.

The completion of the trail was commemorated Sept. 22 with a grand opening on the lake's north shore. The site for the opening event, near Brockway Summit, is considered one of the best spots along the entire route.

"You can see the entire lake from there," said Nada Vogt, who has spent five seasons as a trail volunteer. "It's wide open."

"We're all very excited," added Vogt, who has walked much of the trail and hopes to complete it this year. "This was our goal, and it has been reached and now we're going to celebrate."

Linda McDowell, who has been part of the trail project from the start, is now the association's executive director. She's as exuberant as anyone when it comes to talking about the Tahoe Rim Trail.

"I think of it as a gift for everyone to enjoy," she said. "We've worked all these years to say, 'Come and enjoy Tahoe at its finest.' It has been an opportunity to give to those people who love the outdoors, and for us who have enjoyed Tahoe to give something back."

The trail is expected to draw about 3,000 people during peak summer and fall months.

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