All in the Family: A Multigenerational Family Adventure in Tahoe National Forest, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13217A, Lodge


  • Hike and explore the Tahoe National Forest
  • Enjoy arts and crafts, evening campfires, and other activities
  • Raft a mountain stream, skate, swim, and horseback ride


  • All meals and lodging
  • Raft rental
  • Fees 


DatesJul 21–27, 2013
Price$675 (Adult)
$575 (Child)
Min. Age6
StaffSy Gelman

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Clair Tappan Lodge is a perfect place for kids of all ages to take advantage of the great outdoors. Here, we will have many activities, mostly outdoors, including  hiking, swimming, boating, skating, and horseback riding, plus many surprises as well.

We will be close to beautiful Lake Tahoe and you will also have the opportunity to explore this wonderful area, as well. So join us for a fun-filled experience that both you and the kids will long remember.


The outing begins with dinner at 6 p.m. on day one. Plan to arrive early enough in the day to unpack and unwind from your journey. There's a general store in Soda Springs, two miles down the road; you can buy last-minute items there. The trip ends after breakfast on the final day. Lunch materials will be available for the trip home.

Our trip begins at the Sierra Club's own Clair Tappaan Lodge. In the summer, the area around the lodge abounds with wildlife and wildflowers. There are many mountain lakes nearby and quite a few trails to hike and explore (including one just outside the lodge). We have numerous outdoor activities planned -- both locally and in the Lake Tahoe area, which is about 35 miles away. So you'll have many an opportunity to see lots of beautiful scenery. For the most part we will drive each day to our activities.  Although no strenuous hikes are planned, adults should be able to hike at least three miles.  Activities for the kids are planned throughout the day, with lots of surprises! Not only will we hike, but we will climb a mountain in a gondola, and there will be river rafting and skating as well. We'll explore some historic sights, and in the afternoons there will be arts and crafts. After dinner we'll sing, tell ghost stories, toast marshmallows, and eat s'mores. If you can play a musical instrument, please bring it along.



Getting There

The lodge is about 45 miles west of Reno, Nevada near the historic town of Truckee, California. Reno is the nearest airport. Although there is no public transportation directly to the lodge, both Amtrak (which tends to be late) and Greyhound both go to Truckee. You can also rent a car, or take a limo or taxi from Reno or Truckee. We'll also be sending out rosters with participants' phone numbers and e-mail addresses as early as we can, so you can possibly arrange the sharing of rental cars or personal cars.

Accommodations and Food

Built entirely by volunteers in 1934, Clair Tappaan Lodge is just to the west of Donner Pass, in the central Sierra at 7,000 feet in elevation. Though not luxurious (some may call it primitive) the lodge has a special charm, with its spacious living room, enormous fireplace, cozy library, and outdoor fire ring. You'll also find a bright dining room, sun deck, and a backyard under the trees, complete with volleyball net. Most sleeping accommodations are dormitory-style, but there are several family-style rooms and small cubicles; all are equipped with bunk beds and mattress. There are two men's and two women's bathrooms, and a hot tub. Because the lodge is an old building, constructed of wood and shingles, no smoking is allowed, whether in the building or on the surrounding trails.

Lodge personnel consists of a resident manager, assistant manager, and a professional chef. In the cooperative spirit in which the lodge was built, each lodge guest is expected to pitch in with a daily housekeeping chore, such as meal preparation and serving, table setting, or dishwashing. These chores will require about 30 to 45 minutes each day. A hearty breakfast and dinner are prepared by the professional kitchen staff and served in the lodge's large communal dining room. A vegetarian meal option is always available. Participants with other dietary restrictions can usually be accommodated, provided they let the trip leader know in advance.

Trip Difficulty

It is very important that, after signing up for the trip, each adult fills out the questionnaire and other forms sent to them in the confirmation packet. The child's parents have to complete the forms for their child. Please return the forms to us promptly. Once we have received your completed forms, we will notify you. Failure to complete and send in the forms on a timely basis may indicate to the leaders that you are no longer interested in joining the trip, and it may result in moving your party back to the end of a waitlist. Although no real strenuous activities are planned, adults should be in good enough shape to be able to hike, swim, and go river rafting.

Equipment and Clothing

Imagine you're going camping -- you'll need just about the same gear at the lodge except for tents, plates, cups, and cutlery. The leaders will send out a bulletin with an equipment list (and other information) well before the trip begins. The trails that we will be hiking on are fairly level for the most part, so the kids do not need special boots -- running shoes will do fine. The adults will have a more strenuous hike one day during the trip, so they may want to bring hiking boots. You should be prepared for evenings in the low 40s and days in the mid-80s, as well as an afternoon thundershower. Note that except for the living room fireplace, the lodge is not heated in the summer.

The kids may want to bring along a favorite game, hobby supplies, VHS movie, frisbee, whiffle ball, and books to read. We recommend packing all gear in a duffel bag, but suitcases are acceptable.


All Sierra Club leaders are volunteers, and dedicated to conservation and the enjoyment of the outdoors. If, at the end of the trip, you share just a little bit of our love for the wilderness -- and an appreciation of the Sierra Club's work -- we'll feel that we've done our job well. Our wish is that the children on this outing become strong believers in the need to protect our wild areas. Who knows? Maybe someday they'll become Sierra Club outing leaders. Wherever we go, we will learn how to "leave no trace" in order to minimize our impact.

The area that we will explore is very popular, both for retirees and for recreational users, in winter and summer. Indeed, as more and more people escape the big cities and buy homes in the foothills of the Sierra, they contribute to a growing pollution problem. Then, too, logging practices have ruined many acres of surrounding land, threatening the ecosystem. While on the trip, don't hesitate to ask your leaders about any conservation concerns that you may have and feel free to share any similar stories from home.



Sy Gelman has been leading local Sierra Club trips for over 30 years, and national outings for well over 20 years. He loves the Sierra and gets great enjoyment out of sharing the mountain splendor and wilderness experiences with the great people who participate.

Assistant Leader:

Miki Kinkel has been taking care of kids for some time. She has a degree in psychology and a great rapport with children. Her vivacious personality and great sense of humor will add greatly to the trip experience.

Leader Child:

Sy is proud to announce that his 17-year-old granddaughter, Danielle, will again be joining this trip. This will be the 10th outing that she has been on. Danielle is our expert on geology, knowledgeable of plants, and an accomplished musician. She also has a black belt in karate.

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