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Discover the Hidden Mountain Town of Markleeville, California

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Just 30 miles below South Lake Tahoe rests the mountain town of Markleeville, California. Once the home of significant silver mining interests, this Alpine County spot now boasts a permanent population of only 210 people (at the time of the last census). It’s charmingly isolated – you have to check to be sure the mountain roads are open in order to access it even in late spring – but well worth your time if you are in the Lake Tahoe area, and want to find a spot that is more than a little off-the-beaten-path.

Weather and Wardrobe
Snow is common here through Spring. In fact, the first time we visited was in mid-May, and there was still significant snow in the higher elevations. Bring layers – cold nights are common through May, but the daytime temps can be quite pleasant even in shirt-sleeves. Bring hiking boots to go exploring the areas beyond the town, and keep in mind that even the most upscale of the establishments embraces casual looks.

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Places to Eat
The restaurant scene here expands greatly during the warmer months. It’s as though the town comes alive with longer days (and the tourists who will ride/hike/drive through here). Visiting here before the formal “open” season begins is not without its rewards, though. We stopped in and enjoyed lunch at Wolf Creek Bar and Grill. It was quaint, fun and provide quite the tasty lunch – the perfect fortification for our travels to Benton Hot Springs later in the day. It’s also housed in what was the Alpine Hotel (which was built originally in 1862 in Silver Mountain City, and moved to this spot). That touch of history makes it all the more fun to explore. Because the weather can be so difficult, you should call ahead to make sure that they will be open.

Places to Play
If you did bring those hiking boots, and the weather and time allow, head out to Grover Hot Springs State Park. Enjoy the trails, a day of fishing or birding and then relax in the rustic pool fed by the springs. Of course, the reason most people have heard of Markleeville is their annual “Death Ride” bicycle trek. This incredible bike ride covers approximately 130 miles, goes over five different mountain passes and has been held for the last 35 years. The festive atmosphere that greets riders as they roll through town would be wonderful to see, even if you aren’t on the back of a bike.

Have you visited Markleeville? Did you camp, hike, bike, or take a driving tour? Sound off in the comments!

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(This article was originally posted on Examiner.com. Due to that site’s closure, it has been republished here).

14 Comments on Discover the Hidden Mountain Town of Markleeville, California

  1. Megan Indoe // August 10, 2017 at 4:17 am // Reply

    Oh my gosh we just drove right past this last week and had no idea! We had to cut our trip early due to something unexpected coming up, but we do plan on going back! When we do we will be stopping here! We will plan to hike at Grover Hot Springs Park too!

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm // Reply

      I love hot springs! Grover Hot Springs has been calling us, and I think this year we are finally going to do it!

  2. I have never heard of this place, but am familiar with Lake Tahoe. It sounds like a great place to stop by especially since it’s relatively close to Lake Tahoe. I love small towns and this one with a population of under 250 is definitely a small town! I can’t believe it still snows there in May. I always thought the snow stopped around March. Hiking at Grover Hot Springs Park sounds lovely too 🙂
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    • PatriciaSteffy // August 10, 2017 at 3:14 pm // Reply

      I really would like to spend more time in Lake Tahoe. We just did a quick supply pick up there, and it seemed so beautiful. I feel like that’s going to be a destination for us next year.

  3. I have never even heard of this place! How quaint is this. I would love to camp and hike in this area since it is new to me 🙂

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 10, 2017 at 5:32 pm // Reply

      I’d love to check out the differences between the town during off-season (which we saw) and the town in full summer mode. Must be so different!

  4. Megan Jerrard // August 10, 2017 at 11:03 pm // Reply

    I love California, though I hadn’t heard of Markleeville – thankyou for the introduction! Might be a fun snow trip in the spring :D! Will definitely stop by when around Lake Tahoe next, I love discovering hidden off the beaten path towns 🙂

  5. I love finding lesser-known state parks to visit. I’d love to stop at Grover Hot Springs to hike and then come back to town and check it out. I’ve never been to this part of California, but I’ll have to check it out!
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  6. I love California. I feel like California has the best hidden gems in the USA. So great to discover places like this. I really must go back and explore this little town.
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  7. This looks like a charming little town! I feel like there are so many cool little towns that go unnoticed throughout the US! I would love to do a hike while in the area, as I’m a big outdoors fan! 🙂

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 11, 2017 at 2:05 pm // Reply

      There is definitely plenty of hiking in the area. There is a tight window when some of the roads are open because of the snow, but when the area is open, it’s fun to explore.

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