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

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14223A, Lodge


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


  • All meals and lodging
  • Raft rental
  • Fees


DatesJun 23–29, 2014
Price$695 (Adult)
$595 (Child)
Min. Age6
StaffSy Gelman

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Trip Overview

Please note that the trip dates have changed from what was originally published. If you have questions, please contact us.

The Trip

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

We will be close to beautiful Lake Tahoe and you will have the opportunity to explore the wonderful surrounding area. 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). The trip leaders have numerous outdoor activities planned -- both locally and near Lake Tahoe, which is about 35 miles away. So you'll have many an opportunity to see lots of beautiful scenery. 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 go up a mountain in a gondola and ride a horse, 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 to share rides or car rentals.

Accommodations and Food

In 1934, Sierra Club volunteers built Clair Tappaan Lodge as a rustic retreat for hikers, skiers, and mountain climbers. Since it's located near Donner Summit, the area receives the highest average snowfall of the entire Sierra Nevada Range and is a favorite of winter sports enthusiasts. In summer, a network of nearby trails offers miles of hiking and bicycling and provides access to fishing streams, remote meadows and peaks, and alpine swimming lakes. 

Although it is not a luxury lodge, Clair Tappaan Lodge has a special rustic charm. It boasts a spacious living room, enormous fireplace, cozy library, and outdoor fire ring. A small, friendly staff cares for the lodge. In keeping with the cooperative spirit of the lodge, each guest pitches in by doing a simple chore that requires about a half-hour each day. Chores include preparing and serving meals, setting tables, sweeping/mopping floors, bussing tables, dishwashing, and taking out trash/recycling.

Prior to breakfast, guests prepare their own bag lunches from plentiful and varied ingredients. 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 that their trip leader is informed in advance.

Coffee, tea, and water are served with meals. For those wishing hot drinks before or after mealtimes, please bring change for the donation box. A soft drink coin machine is available in the lodge.

Because the lodge is an old building, constructed of wood and shingles, no smoking is allowed indoors or outdoors. Sleeping accommodations vary in size from very small two-person cubicles to larger family rooms and separate dorms for men and women. All rooms are furnished with bunk beds with mattresses, pillows, and pillowcases. Trip participants provide their own sleeping bags or blankets and sheets, towels, soap, and toiletries. Bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper. The Lodge Manager assigns all accommodations in advance. 

Doors do not lock; but there are lockers, and you can bring your own padlock. Restroom and shower facilities are shared, with two men's and two women's bathrooms (bring your own towel). The lodge also has a hot tub, so be sure to bring your bathing suit. A washer, dryer, and a refrigerator are available. 

All luggage has to be carried or pulled by cart from the unloading zone to the front door of the lodge, then upstairs to your room. We recommend that you travel lightly and use a backpack and/or carry-on bag, rather than a suitcase.

Reservations for extended stays before or after your outing may be made by calling the lodge directly at 530-426-3632 or 1-800-679-6775. 

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 promptly. Once the trip leader has received your completed forms, he 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 wait list. Although no real strenuous activities are planned, adults should be in good enough shape to be able to hike, swim, river raft, and horseback ride.

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 are generally fairly level, 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, DVD movies, frisbee, whiffle ball, and books to read. We recommend packing all gear in a duffel bag, but suitcases are acceptable.



  • Tahoe National Forest


  • Sorer, Tracy I., Sierra Nevada Natural History.
  • Blackwell, Laird R., Wildflowers of the Tahoe Sierra.
  • Powell, Margie, Donner Summit, A Brief History.



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.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under permits from Tahoe National Park and DL Bliss & Emerald Bay State Parks.



Sy Gelman has been leading local Sierra Club trips for over 35 years, and national outings for well over 25 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.

Leader Child:

Catherine, age 14, Sy's other granddaughter, will also be joining us once again. This will be her 9th time with this trip. She is expert in arts and crafts, is a great cook, and is currently going for her third-degree black belt in karate.

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