Cold Creek Trail is a multi-use trail that accommodates hikers and mountain bikers and connects with other trails further up the draw. The Cold Creek Trail doesn’t offer spectacular views but it’s flanked on either side by mountainous walls creating one of the best things about this trail, which is that within a minute of hiking there are few indications you’re still in civilization. Also, due to its close proximity to Cold Creek, the trail offers many places in which to dip your toes during the warmer months. Although I wouldn’t necessarily add this hike to your bucket list, it’s a great little trail that’s close by if you’re staying anywhere near Pioneer Trail.
Trail Data (approximations):
- Location: South Tahoe – Pioneer Trail
- Category of Route: Family Fun Hike, Day Hike
- Total Mileage: 2.5 miles
- Total Elevation Gain: 300 feet
- Highest Point: 6,565 feet
- Trail: Hard-packed sand
- Parking at the water substation gate is OK, but don’t block the gate
- Dogs are allowed, but keep them on leash and pick up after them
- Adhere to all Leave No Trace principles
- There are few trail signs and markers on public lands in the Tahoe region, so unless there are tracks to follow, the correct route may be difficult to identify–when in doubt, turn back
- Be prepared for inclement weather and carry plenty of warm clothes, food, and water
- Leave an itinerary of your plans with someone who’ll call emergency services if you don’t return by your prescribed time
Park at the water substation entrance (don’t block the gate) on Pioneer Trail between the roads named Cold Creek Trail and High Meadow Trail. The substation is 4.5 miles from HWY 50 in Meyers and 3.25 miles from HWY 50 near Stateline. Parking is very limited. An optional access point to the trail is located at the top of the road called High Meadow Trail (see either map).
Here’s a map to assist you in finding the parking area for accessing the Cold Creek Hiking Trail. Remember, parking is at the water substation.
Cold Creek Trail immediately heads upward from the substation, so be prepared for elevation gain. Also, this is a common exit point for mountain bikers, so be aware that they may be coming downhill as you’re hiking up. At 1.25 miles there is a natural turnaround point with a beautifully constructed bridge that spans Cold Creek. This spot also happens to be a nexus of trails, namely Cold Creek Trail, Powerline Trail, and High Meadow Road. Powerline Trail is mostly a traverse and it does offer some glimpses of Lake Tahoe, so head along that trail if you have the time.
The Cold Creek trail is appropriate for snowshoeing in the winter, but probably too technical for cross-country skiing as there are a number of large granite boulders along the trail and some steep windy sections to negotiate.