SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – MILE 1090
The best place to get off for SLT is around Echo Summit. The road here is Highway 50 and cars are going fast, but folks will stop to pick you up. It is a bit of a haul into town, but once you get dropped off near the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe there are quite a few services in a relatively compact area. Near the “Y”, you will find a Safeway, as well as an outfitter which is willing to hold resupply for hikers. The Motel 6, which is not too far down the road, is probably your best deal for clean, reasonably priced and well-located lodging. There is a city bus which goes up and down the main drag. It is pretty easy to use if you’re not in a big rush. During some weekends, South Lake Tahoe gets pretty slammed with tourists and you may want to consider AirBnB in that case.
- Going fast – Within a block or so of the “Y”, you can resupply, pick up new gear and have a meal. This can be a very efficient town stop to get your town chores done and head back to the trail.
- Moderate pace – South Lake Tahoe is a great place to take a zero (or two, like we did), especially if you haven’t taken a zero since Independence/Bishop. There are a lot of restaurants (including all-you-can-eat pizza at Round Table Pizza), several gear stores and several big grocery stores…all within a reasonable walking distance of motels. SLT follows what many PCT hikers feel is fairly difficult section of the trail (Tuolumne up to Sonora Pass).
SODA SPRINGS/TRUCKEE – MILE 1153
Most folks start to increase their daily miles leaving South Lake Tahoe, so they don’t bother to resupply in Soda Springs or Truckee. If you do plan to resupply at this road crossing, you will have many more options in Truckee than in Soda Springs. We had sent a package to the Claire Tappan Lodge in Soda Springs and then found out once we got there, that the PO doesn’t like driving down their driveway, so packages are commonly held at the PO. Not a big deal during our 2016 hike, but only because the nice folks at the lodge helped us out with a ride to the PO. Most hikers just plan to stop at the Old 40 Bar & Grill (which is very close to the trail) for a meal, charge their phones and then keep going. Just keep in mind that they don’t open early, so it is more of a lunch/dinner place. Word to the wise…don’t over stuff yourself like we did, as you’ve got some climbing to do once you head back to the trail.
- Going fast – If you are passing by around 11am or later, there is no reason to pass up a hot meal at the Bar & Grill and then you can keep moving down the trail.
- Moderate pace – Some hikers choose to make Truckee their big town stop instead of South Lake Tahoe. We haven’t been into Truckee, but we have heard that there are good grocery stores in town.
SIERRA CITY – MILE 1195
For many folks, this will be the first resupply after South Lake Tahoe. It is an easy walk into town from the trail, or you may get lucky and get a hitch. In town, there are a few restaurants, but most folks seem to hang out around the general store, where you can send a resupply package. Our last time through, there was no organization of resupply boxes in the store and we felt it would be super easy for someone to walk off with the wrong box, so we wouldn’t advise sending boxes with valuable gear to the general store. The general store is also the place to buy snacks or get a giant hamburger. Around the corner from the general store, there are a few public picnic tables, outlets for charging phones, and several free (with cold water only) showers. It can be a nice place to hang out and is a bit quieter than the general store.
- Going fast/Moderate pace – Best to just have a meal, pick up resupply and then head back to trail.
BUCKS LAKE – MILE 1261
We hadn’t planned to stop at Bucks Lake, but decided to change plans once we saw a sign for trail angels not too far from the road crossing. Bucks Lake itself doesn’t have much to offer besides some snacks at a convenience store and a couple restaurants/bars. Beardoh ended up at the resort bar on his first thru-hike in 2012 and enjoyed it quite a bit. It you feel like walking the extra 3ish miles off trail for a meal or cold drink, then by all means take a break. Otherwise, you might as well keep going since Belden is not much further down the trail.
- Going fast – Skip it.
- Moderate pace – If you’re really hankering for some town food, then by all means, walk (or hitch) into town for a meal and then head back to the trail.
BELDEN – MILE 1284
Depending on the day you arrive at Belden, you can either have a very quiet and relaxing experience, or you can encounter a weekend rave party. The trail goes right through Belden, and right by the one motel/restaurant, which makes things really easy. The motel is nothing to get too excited about (no WiFi when we stayed there), but it was nice to get a shower (especially after all the poison ivy along the trail as you descended to Belden) and to relax. The restaurant (right at the motel) was actually quite good, and there is even a ping pong table for those who enjoy the game. We met some hikers who were specifically trying to arrive during the rave party, so if that is something you are into, we believe the rave happens twice a month (you can call the Belden Town Resort to find out dates).
- Going fast – Stop in for a meal and a resupply pickup (best to send a box to the resort, as their convenience store is very limited)
- Moderate pace – Stay a night in the motel and fill up on good food in the restaurant. If you are going to resupply here, it is best to send a box to the resort, as their convenience store is very limited.
CHESTER – MILE 1328
Chester is a hitch off trail, but has quite a bit to offer a hiker. Several restaurants, a couple motels, a coffee shop with WiFi and a grocery store round out this town’s offerings. It hasn’t really been a needed stop for us since the distance from the Belden to Drakesbad is only 73 miles. Beardoh did sneak into town to take care of some work stuff at the coffee shop on his second thru-hike.
- Going fast – Skip it
- Moderate pace – Skip it unless you are really aching for town R & R.
DRAKESBAD GUEST RANCH – MILE 1347
Being so close to the PCT, Drakesbad is a great place to send a resupply box. They have meals, showers and laundry as well as thermal pools. It is a tourist stop, so it has a different vibe to it. The management would like hikers to get clean on arrival, and you may as well take them up on it 🙂 While their restaurant is reserved for guests of the resort, they offer a hiker meal, and it was worth hanging out for (lots of food). You can’t camp at Drakesbad, but most hikers camp just a short distance down the road at the trailhead.
- Going fast – Good place to send a package and not lose much time. Possibly shower and laundry.
- Moderate pace – Send a package, enjoy a meal, chill out at the pool, laundry, shower.
OLD STATION – MILE 1375
JJ’s Cafe was so good (and very close to the trail) that after finishing breakfast (and using the WiFi to download a bunch of new podcasts), we went ahead and ordered lunch. We didn’t do any resupply here, although there is a convenience store which we heard tries to stock some hiker provisions. Basically we just treated it as a nice food stop before heading out to get into position for Hat Creek Rim the following day.
- Going fast – Right on trail, get a meal.
- Moderate pace – Right on trail, get a meal… possibly time things so you can camp near the Subway Caves or shortly up the mountain and position yourself for the coming day in the long water-less section of Hat Creek Rim.
BURNEY MOUNTAIN GUEST RANCH – MILE 1408
This is basically a B&B, although when we came through, the only guests were thru-hikers. The owners are very welcoming and helpful to hikers. You can camp on their grounds, take showers, do laundry, and have dinner and/or breakfast. When we stayed there, the dinner served was “baked potato bar” which was really tasty and we all walked out of there with stuffed bellies. They do accept resupply packages as well, which helps to just break up a larger food carry for those going at a more moderate pace.
- Going fast – Skip it.
- Moderate pace – Enjoy the nice meal, hot shower and comfortable place to relax for the night.
BURNEY FALLS STATE PARK – MILE 1416
This is a nice place to hang out, as there is a convenience store at the park. You can get nachos, hot dogs, or other snacks. Not really a place you want to buy your full resupply at, but you can certainly supplement if you want with a bag of chips, candy or other goodies. You can also send a resupply package there if you choose. Be sure to check out the waterfall!
The town of Burney can be accessed from here. Beardoh went into town and resupplied in 2012. He ended up yogi’ing a ride with some tourists. Getting back from town is a hitch (your time waiting will vary), but it is do-able. The town has motels, restaurants, and a grocery store. Taking a night at the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch and getting showers and laundry at the Ranch as we did in 2016 was our preference (over going into the Town of Burney)
- Going fast/Moderate pace – Send a resupply box or just stop in for a quick snack.
CASTLE CRAG SP, CASTELLA, DUNSMUIR, SHASTA – MILE 1498
There are multiple town options to head to from this one road crossing…it all depends on how much town amenities you want and how far you are willing to hitch (Castella 2 miles, Dunsmuir 5 miles, Shasta 15 miles). Beardoh stayed in Castella at the state park on his first thru-hike and found that to be completely adequate, as there was a deli nearby where they could enjoy to comforts of town food. When we hiked together, we went into Shasta, since we wanted to take a zero day. Shasta has several motel options and multiple restaurants, as well as a decent grocery store. It would be pretty easy to resupply at the grocery store in Shasta. There is also a Round Table Pizza in Shasta which has an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, which many hikers enjoyed. We would caution you against having expensive gear sent to Ammirati’s market – The resupply boxes are all just sitting on the store shelves or on a pallet in the store.
- Going fast – Send a resupply package to the Ammirati Market in Castella. You can pick up a meal/snack/beer at the market before heading on to the trail.
- Moderate pace – Hitch into Shasta and enjoy a town with all the amenities.
ETNA – MILE 1597
Being about 100 trail miles since the last town stop, Etna is a good place for a resupply and R & R. It can be feast or famine in terms of getting a hitch into town, as the road has only light traffic. Once you get into town, you have the choice of camping on the grounds of a local B&B or camping in a city park. You can take a shower or do laundry at the B&B even if you aren’t staying there. The town is fairly compact, so it is easy to get all your errands done and get a good meal…don’t forgo a piece of pie (or 2) at Bob’s Ranch House.
- Going fast – If you’re going fast enough, and don’t mind carrying an extra day or two of food, you can just skip it.
- Moderate pace – Head into town for hot meal, resupply and a night of camping in town.
SEIAD VALLEY – MILE 1653
After the long road walk into town, most hikers are happy to take a seat in the cafe and enjoy a delicious meal. There is a pancake challenge here (something like five pounds of pancakes), although we’re not really sure it’s worth it. We’ve heard that the pancakes aren’t so great, and you would just be taking the stomach space that could otherwise be filled with their delicious omelets or milkshakes. The general store has pretty minimal resupply, so keep expectations low. The RV park nearby charges a “day use” fee which lets you hang out in the TV room, do laundry and take a shower. We took advantage of that when we passed through and were happy to have a place to chill out and watch the Olympics for a few hours. You can pay to camp at the RV park as well. Be sure not to overstuff yourself in town, as there is a hefty, and usually hot, climb right out of town.
- Going fast – Enjoy a meal. Resupply and then keep walking.
- Moderate pace – Enjoy a meal and just hang out in town for the day. With the big climb after town, it is nice to start it when the day begins to cool off, or, stay in town and start the climb in the early hours of the day.