Taylor Creek, which flows out of Fallen Leaf Lake up in Tahoe, is a special place throughout the year. It’s located just a tad past the Visitors Center on Highway 89. It works its way through the forest, crosses the highway, runs right by the Nature Trail, and finally into Lake Tahoe.
This time of year Taylor Creek takes on a special role. Kokanee Salmon swim up Taylor Creek to lay and fertilize eggs, insuring more Kokanee next year. The creek takes on a reddish hue, and at times looks like it’s just a solid highway of salmon. Not surprisingly, the black bears around the area are tuned into this, as they view it as a moving smorgasbord of fish, just for them.
The U.S. Forest Service puts on quite a show at the Visitors Center. The Fall Fish Festival, which used to be the Kokanee Salmon Festival, celebrates this annual migration. The Visitors Center is located on Highway 89, 3 miles north of the “Y” at South Lake Tahoe.
This year the festival kicks off on Saturday, October 3d, and runs through Sunday, October 4th. It’s official time is from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. both days. This isn’t just for kids, but it will exercise the child in everyone.
What you’ll enjoy as you walk through the Rainbow Trail are the Forest Service biologists who will be on hand to talk about the special nature of Taylor Creek. The trail is accessible, and 1/2 mile of beauty. One of the high points is the underground Stream Chamber.
This feature takes you underground with a view into a part of Taylor Creek. There are explanations all around about the creek, the salmon, the ecology of the area, Lake Tahoe, and through the big glass wall, salmon. This alone is worth your time.
The day here is a full one. There are children’s activities galore along with the streamside programs. This year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service returns with a giant inflatable fish. Children enter through the tail and are greeted with some really pretty nice activity stations, just for them.
The list of things to do includes a treasure hunt, fish painting, visits from Smokey Bear, and meeting the mascots of the festival, Sandy and Rocky Salmon, and Lulu the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.
The Bumble Bee Ice Cream Truck will be there, along with Tacos Por Favor. Of course, you can bring your own picnic, but who’s going to pass up an ice cream? You’ll want to stay once you get there, as parking is always an issue.
If you are a runner, join in the Kokanee Trail Runs sponsored by the Mountain Milers. The trail runs are on Sunday. A 1/2 marathon starts at 7:00 a.m., at 8:00 a.m. the Tadpole Trot launches, and at 8:30 a.m. a 5k and 10k run will start. Registration is at the SnoPark, just past the bridge over Taylor Creek. Registration starts at 6:00 a.m. Bring your own coffee and warm donuts.
The entry fees for these runs benefits the Tahoe Heritage Foundation. They are a non-profit group which supports U.S. Forest Service environmental programs at Lake Tahoe.
The festival draws quite a few people each year. Go early to get good parking. Park only in designated areas, as the CHP will be on hand to make sure the roads are safe.
The black bears that are around Taylor Creek feasting on salmon are wild animals. They are omnivores, which means they’ll eat just about anything. This is a critical time for them. Stay away from them. The Forest Service “…does not encourage visits to see bears, and advises the public to stay away from bears, as they are wild animals and dangerous.”
They are considering closing parts of Taylor Creek to humans during the festival due to the number of really stupid things that people do. Putting yourself too close to a bear, especially a mother bear with a cub, defines dangerous and idiotic.