Slowing Down at Spooner Lake State Park

It’s always nice to slow things down from the hectic pace of modern life and de-stress in nature.   Spooner Lake – Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park is a convenient place to leave behind the cares of modern life, especially now with fall color starting to put on its show. It’s less than an hour away from Reno and less than a half hour’s drive from Carson City. 

The shores around Spooner Lake itself don’t have massive amounts of autumn foliage. However, aspens grow on either side of North Canyon Road and around much of Marlette Lake, creating quite the fall foliage scene when the time is right.

Spooner Lake State Park Fall Color
Fall Color at Spooner Lake State Park, 10-5-22, Kim Wilkes

Fall Foliage at Spooner Lake State Park

If you want to see the most color, trek up the dirt North Canyon Road up to Marlette Lake rather than the hiker-equestrian trail. The hiker trail is mostly in a conifer forest. Just be careful of mountain bikers pedaling up or down the road. 

I took a late-afternoon stroll here on Wednesday, October 5, 2022 to find North Canyon Road in the high Patchy (20%) to Getting Better (30%) category. There was enough color, backlit by the afternoon sun, to make the hike worthwhile for diehard fall foliage foliators who enjoy viewing all stages of the turning color.

Fall color on the road to Marlette Lake
North Canyon Road, 10-5-22, Kim Wilkes
Fall foliage at Spooner Lake State Park
Fall foliage hiking to Marlette Lake, 10-5-22, Kim Wilkes
Spooner Lake State Park, 10-5-22, Kim Wilkes

Due to the lateness of the hour I only made it up 1.4 miles of the 4.5 miles to Marlette Lake. However, I asked two hikers hoofing it down from the lake whether the fall color up there had started. 

They said that up by the lake, it was patchy, and that North Canyon Road actually looked better than the aspens by the lake itself. They said that if you’re going up to Marlette Lake just to see fall color, “it’s not worth the walk” (or ride) just yet. 

I estimate that Marlette Lake fall color and North Canyon Road should start really popping between October 12 – 15. 

Spooner Lake State Park Autumn Foliage, 10-5-22, Kim Wilkes

If You’re Going 

They’re building a new visitor center and there is construction equipment in the parking lot, so parking is limited. On weekends in particular, this could create some challenges.

Nevada residents pay a $10 entrance fee, $15 for non-Nevada residents. It’s a self-pay station so either bring exact cash or a check. 

Spooner Lake State Park Fall Color Update 

Patchy Color at the Beginning of North Canyon Road, 10-5-22, Kim Wilkes

As of October 5, 2022:

North Canyon Road: Patchy (20%) to Getting Better (30%)

Marlette Lake: Patchy (20%)

Spooner Summit and Picnic Area by Tahoe Rim Trail parking: Getting Better (25%) with some groves partially peaking and remaining trees still green. 

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