Sierra Hike: Chickadee Ridge

2.1 miles out and back
chickadee ridge

Across the road from Mt. Rose, a wooden path leads hikers to a ridge that gets its nickname from the birds that inhabit it. Park along the side of Mt. Rose Highway. The wooden path leads to a very small bridge (we’re talking two steps and you’re over it) to the right. From there, a dirt path winds for about 1 mile to a ridge that overlooks Lake Tahoe. There are several forks in the path, but the best rule of thumb is to keep to the right. The ground is fairly level in the beginning before giving way to rocky almost-steps that drop you at a clearing where, among the trees, hundreds of chickadees have become accustomed to being hand-fed by visitors. (We can’t help but think of the pigeon lady from “Home Alone 2.”) Feeding the birds is controversial—they definitely shouldn’t be fed people food, and feeding wildlife at all is discouraged. Still, visitors often bring birdseed to place in their extended hands. Before long, the birds begin dive-bombing for it.

bird from chickadee ridge
Photo by Nora Heston Tarte

Come Back in Winter

In winter months the bird populations are larger, and you’ll get quite a few more landing in your hands, but the trek requires winter clothes and snowshoes until at least May.