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Email Author: Ellen Hopkins
Story Posted: 6/15/2004 04:51 pm

Swept away in Lake Tahoe

Those fortunate enough to live at Lake Tahoe wake up every morning to the alarm of Stellar’s jays and the alluring drift of evergreen perfume. It’s a beautiful way to start each day, and an even better backdrop for your "swept away" wedding.

You want a forested setting. But you also want an easy walk and a central locale, one your officiate won’t balk about traveling to. And where can you find a quiet spot, away from traffic, off-road vehicles or loud radios? Hey, you’re in Reno/Tahoe. Such places do exist here. You just have to know where to look. Here are some suggestions:

Skunk Harbor Trail. Tahoe has long been home to summer visitors. Some, such as George Newhall, were extremely wealthy. Newhall, whose father made his fortune in the late 1800s railroad boom, bought Skunk Harbor as a wedding present for his wife. There, they built their summer home, a notorious Roaring Twenties party pad.

The Forest Service now oversees the site, which means you’re welcome to visit. Park on Highway 28, 2.5 miles north of its junction with Highway 50 at Spooner Summit. Parking is limited, so go early in the day or late in the afternoon, especially on weekends. And do take note of "No Parking" signs!

You’ll find a green gate at the access road. Follow the road as far as you wish. It’s an easy hike, but remember you’re going downhill and will have to return uphill. About one-half mile in, the trail splits. Go straight another mile to reach the cove. If you go right, you’ll find some old railroad trestles. The left fork takes you down into Slaughterhouse Canyon, a beautiful hike. The forks will offer you more privacy than the main trail.

Fallen Leaf Lake Trail. To have a lot of privacy during the busy summer season, you’ll have to plan your "I do’s" early in the day. But the forested views of Fallen Leaf Lake and the ease of the this walk make it worthwhile.

Find the trailhead at the entrance to Fallen Leaf Lake Campground, three miles from South Lake Tahoe off Highway 89. Turn left onto Fallen Leaf Lake Road, and find the campground about a mile in. Park outside the campground and walk in, following the road that says "Wrong Way." Where it ends, the trail begins.

You’ll reach the lake in a half-mile or so. Continue and soon you’ll run into a wide trail that leads into the woods. From there, how far you go is all up to you.

As an alternative to this, continue up Fallen Leaf Road until another paved road intersects it from the east. Turn left and drive around a half-mile or so until you find a wide place to park. Then simply take a short hike into the woods.

Pioneer Trail. Cutting the corner between downtown Stateline and the little town of Meyers is a local’s bypass road called Pioneer Trail. Follow this road west from Stateline about seven miles. On your left side, you will see a large tract of Douglas fir, with several places to park along the way. Pull over and take a short walk into the woods. Stop there, or continue across the meadow and uphill for a more private location.

Galena Creek. This pretty park off Highway 431, not far from Reno, has gorgeous stands of evergreens, plus a bubbling creek. A popular wedding spot is on the bridge over the creek, but a short hike just beyond carries you into a more secluded stand of forest. There’s plenty of parking here, too.

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Who Will Pronounce Those I Do’s?

You want to get married, and you want to do it tomorrow. You have chosen your favored Reno/Tahoe location, perhaps invited a friend or two. You have picked out a dress (or your best white shorts). Now, who will pronounce those "I do’s?" Some options: Reverend Dave Beronio is licensed to perform weddings both in California and Nevada. His Lake Tahoe Wedding Ministries specializes in helping you create the perfect ceremony, whether that is traditional, or one you design together. Beronio holds a U.S. Forest Service permit and can recommend special outdoor locations. Or choose your own. Contact: or (800) 553-1022, ext. 2128 Reverend J.B. McIntyre also can perform ceremonies on either side of the state line. His "A Wedding Ceremony From The Heart" offers several indoor and outdoor packages for just the two of you, or up to 50 guests. McIntyre will meet with you to decide exactly the kind of ceremony you want and can help arrange flowers, music and other extras. Contact: or (800) 336-3585. Reverend Christa Deane specializes in California weddings. Her "Mountain High Ceremonies" is located in Homewood, on Lake Tahoe’s beautiful west shore. Deane says no ceremony is too "unique," and will work with you to choose a fantastic location and include family, guests and even pets, if you desire. Or she’s happy to create the perfect day for just the two of you. Marriage licenses are issued while you wait and elopement packages are available. Contact: (530) 525-9320 Reverend Dr. Asa Collins is a retired Presbyterian pastor who lives in Incline Village. Collins is licensed in both states and has performed ceremonies around the lake. Choose from traditional Christian or non-denominational ceremonies, and you can help with the wording of your vows. Collins does not issue marriage licenses, but can tell you where to get yours, and his wife will serve as a witness if it’s just the two of you. Contact: (775) 831-7232 Reverend John Spinola has lived at Lake Tahoe for 27 years and is licensed in California only. His "A Couple’s Choice" offers indoor and outdoor packages at favored locations, or a location of your choice. Wife, Lynn, is a photographer, whose services you may choose to use. Spinola issues marriage licenses. Contact: or (877) 470-8888.