Historic Truckee, California has been dubbed “the coolest town.” While it is really 150 years old, it is celebrating its 25th anniversary being incorporated by taking photos of all the locals. That is 16k population that fluctuates seasonally to 50k due to their greatest resource – quality of life. Always one of the snowiest and coldest areas in California, spring and summer are the times to visit this hamlet of pioneering spirit. Nestled along the banks of the Truckee River, the only outlet for Lake Tahoe, it is known for the Donner Family disaster. The area reflects extremes. Go big or go home. From fishing, rafting and hiking, the town wears this gauntlet with pride and golf is no exception. Tahoe Donner Golf Club has a tight, pine tree lined course that absolutely requires a narrow flight off the tee. One of the most recognized and highly awarded mountain courses is Coyote Moon, delivering pure adrenaline golf. Pull out every shot in the bag while you get lost in the scenery. Watch for wildlife, including namesake coyotes housed in a den near the 12th green. Bears are always there, although sightings are uncommon.
Another alpine delight is Schaffer’s Mill. Follow the elevation changes around the upscale community that borders its fairways on the front nine, ever present yet never intrusive to the course. The back nine is as good as it gets with routing for both left and right ball flight. Greens are large and local knowledge is helpful navigating the slope. Martis Camp is the area’s exclusive private course, rated among the best in the U.S. In the thin mountain air, ten yards are added to most every golf shot, without a steroid shot.
In the eclectic, quirky town of Truckee you might stay in a room with a claw bathtub or at the Best Western with a trail to the Donner Pass. A monument stands tall in town to show the level of the snow during that fateful event. We loved the condo option at Donner Lake Village with a full kitchen, a balcony overlooking the water, sandy beach plot, docks and boat rentals. For $20 rent a kayak and row down the lake’s inlet where a canoe paddle extends over the water with the inscribed joke, “Paddle Fast, I hear banjoes.” A public beach and a private beach with kids jumping off floating docks in the first week of summer mixes with watching the snow melt off the mountain one flake at a time as an eagle soars above and a merganser (Trump-head) duck paddles by.
On the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Incline Village is a popular spot for winter and summer sports with two distinct courses, a par 72 championship run and a fun little par 58 course through the woods. Stay at Hyatt Regency with window seat views of the lake. Amenities include pools, restaurants, bars, a casino and beach access. The Incline Village sailboat may be chartered which we noticed while visiting Sand Harbor, just south on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. This is a cool stop with beaches, boardwalks, educational center and café/bar for fish tacos and rum runners while watching the boats float by. Pure fresh water and fresh air – it’s pure heaven in North Tahoe, Truckee and Donner Pass in the summer time.