By Susan Schnier
Dubbed Homiewood for its insider appeal, Homewood is an old-time ski area on Tahoe’s West Shore. With one short slope visible from the road, the best terrain remains the secret of families and locals escaping the pretension of Tahoe’s larger resorts. The views are striking, even for seasoned residents. Lake Tahoe spans out behind you from the lifts, and the runs plunge you toward its blue expanse. The four chairlifts are sluggish, but Homewood realized a long time dream and installed a high-speed, detachable quad this season. And then there’s the powder – Homewood gets 450 inches a year and stays open when winds shut other areas down; it hasn’t had a wind hold since 1994.
Firesign Café serves hearty breakfast and the huevos rancheros are a foolproof choice off the large menu. After skiing, Sunnyside is just down the road, serving lake views and juicy fish tacos. For pizza, try Pisano’s, in Homewood. In Tahoe City, swanky, lakeside Sol y Lago is Latin American/ Spanish fusion. Their large Tapas menu features apps like chicken mole tamales and marinated artichokes. Treat yourself to a protein feast across the street at the West Shore Café – their tender Kobe Filet Mignon with Cabernet Sauce is made from the highest grade beef.
Sunnyside has 23 lakefront rooms ($100-295). The Norfolk Woods Inn bed and breakfast in Tahoma has seven rooms ($60-$80) and three two-bedroom cabins ($100-$150). You’ll walk to the lifts if you stay at the West Shore Inn, directly across the street. The new, high-end lakefront hotel has six suits ($250-$750) above the West Shore Cafe.
Order beers from the snack bar and enjoy them on the sun deck. The wooden corner bar upstairs has been around since 1962 and is illuminated with antler chandeliers. Down the road is the rustic Black Bear Tavern. In Tahoe City, Pete and Peters remains the classic watering hole with pool and air hockey. Late night, Sol y Lago’s Luna Lounge showcases DJ talent.
Well-spaced glades cover most of the mountain. Powder takes days or weeks to get skied and you won’t feel a pack of testosterone-fueled snow fiends breathing down your neck while you try to enjoy it. Quail Face is the steepest, most challenging zone and requires uphill traverses to get in and out. Unlike the rest of the mountain, it’s not treed so you can open it up.
Homewood’s open boundary policy has been in effect for 10 years and Ellis Peak is a popular destination. Look west at the top of the Quad and you’ll see Ellis Peak at about 1 o’clock. The summit is 8,990 feet, a 1,100 foot elevation gain. The north-facing Fourth of July chutes lie beyond, in Blackwood Canyon, and stay skiable into summer.