Big Meadow Trailhead to Meiss Meadows
After parking at the Big Meadow Trailhead on Hwy. 89, Luther Pass, follow the Tahoe Rim Trail south and carefully cross Hwy. 89. One-half mile is a horse gate. *Note: This gate was taken down in 1999 when cattle were no longer allowed in the Meiss area, then in late 2001, cattle appeared for a couple of months, so just be aware that there may be a barbed wire fence here.
A few hundred yards later, you'll see a trail going off to your left (east). The sign post indicates Scott Lake. Continue straight into Big Meadow. Cross the creek and continue south through this gorgeous meadow that boasts millions of bright yellow buttercup in the Spring. The Peak directly to the south is Steven's Peak, elevation 10,059'. Follow the trail up a wooded ridge, (mosquitos are horrible here most of the summer!), through another horse gate (*UPDATE: gate has been removed), and to the top of the ridge. Here you can see most of the Meiss Country, and the headwaters of the Upper Truckee River.
After your break, wander up the trail (left side of lake), being careful of the rocky terrain. After a bit, you'll begin to ride into some pretty little meadow areas interspersed with Quaking Aspen. Chances are, you'll also encounter cattle (RE: Note above and below). They wear bells around their necks which can drive some horses absolutely bonkers! I have one friend whose horse would always snort and sweat and dance and jig for the rest of the ride every time she heard those bells! [UPDATE: As of 1999, cattle are no longer in the Meiss area. However, a big word of caution: There is still a LOT of barbed wire around. Always be extra careful anytime you go off the trail, especially in meadows of tall grass, and in creeks.]
Two miles from Round Lake, you'll come to the biggest meadow, Meiss Meadow (pronounced "Mice" after the German family that have run cattle here for a hundred years [yes, they are old]). There is a cabin in the middle in the meadow by the creek, along with a barn, corral, and outhouse. Don't use the outhouse, though, it was moved there from over by the stream, and is not for human use anymore. The buildings are in the National Register of Historic Places. Take a look around, but don't disturb anything. If the Meiss Family is around, ask them for a look-see inside. During the winter months, David Beck, owner of Sierra Ski Tours and dog sled outfitter, has the winter lease on the cabin. I've spent several winter nights in the loft of the cabin--it's very cozy with a roaring fire (thanks, Dave)!
The Pacific Crest Trail runs through the meadow, so from this point it's 1,000 miles to Mexico, or 1,400 miles to Canada! Yeah, baby, let's ride!
Or, you can just meander along the trail another couple of miles to Shower's Lake for an invigorating skinny-dip and siesta of baking in the sun on hot granite rocks. I should warn you, though, that you must skinny-dip. Don't be shy and stay in your underwear! Have you ever put jeans back on over wet undies and then sat in a saddle for miles and miles and miles?! (Sound familiar, Patrick? ;^)
Well, it's time to head back to the trailer, now. Just be sure to retrace your hoofprints. There are lots of cow trails running through the area and many people get lost wandering down the wrong trail!
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