Snowboarders and skiers scour mountain towns to find spots that hold snow year-round and allow them to keep their shred dreams going nonstop. Depending on snow conditions and how winter plays out, many of them are successful in finding these hideouts where they can make turns, build features, and hoard rails.
Photo courtesy Fraka
Twenty-five miles south of Lake Tahoe, California, on the way to Kirkwood Resort and near Carson Pass lies such a location. There are perennial snow fields scattered around this area, and one specific field has been dubbed “the Patch” by the locals. Riders like to head out to the Patch early season and late season, when the resorts are closed, and set up camp to spend a day or two putting their snowboards and skis to good use.
Local name: The Patch, due to the snow patches that persist year-round
Directions from Tahoe: Take Highway 89 out of Meyers towards Markleeville to Highway 88 and go right. Drive for a few miles and keep your eyes peeled for a dirt road on the left-hand side. Go on this road, drive to the top, and you’ll find the Patch.
Bring: Riding gear, barbecue, depending on the season either warm outerwear or spring gear, water, camera, 4×4 SUV
If you do decide to make it out to the patch, be careful on the roads, because once you make the left-hand turn off Highway 88 (Carson Pass Highway) on to the dirt road leading up to the Patch, things can get a little tricky. I know this from experience. During the preseason one year, I drove out to the Patch and had an interesting experience. There was snow on the road by then and I had to put the pedal to the metal just to get to the top. On this particular day, a car was backing across the road as I began my ascent, and I was forced to brake. As a result, my Jeep began to slide down the hill, and I was not exactly in control. In my attempt to stop I turned my wheel and spun my car to the side; this led to sliding off the road into the trees and untracked snow. Miraculously, I did not collide with anything, and I just had to get back down to the bottom of the dirt road and start all over again.
Once I made it, I surveyed the surroundings with my friends, who were driving in another car. Giant granite slabs and grassy hillsides greeted us at 8,000 feet, and they were all framing a tunnel-like slope that was, indeed, the Patch. I would come to find out that because of its tunnel-like shape, the Patch garners a few more feet of snow than the surrounding area, which makes it a prime space to set up jumps and jibs. When I got there, there was already a plastic barrel and some rock hits ready to go, so we hiked up to the peak of the hill and had an awesome afternoon lapping the tiny set-up.
This remote shred zone is perfect for a bunch of friends to get together, head out of town, and enjoy some snowboarding and skiing when there is no official place to go. For the most part, it provides an endless winter close enough to Tahoe that is easy to get to. Unless, of course, you’re me and decide to do some spontaneous off-roading.