Road Trip! 5 Spring Mountain Destinations in Driving Distance of SF

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Spring Break is typically celebrated on the beach, but these five mountain locations less than 350 miles from San Francisco can give you a unique spring trip experience. Whether you want to do some spring skiing, drink and dine, hike and bike or mellow out in a hot spring, these mountain destinations are close to home.


Hiking in Lake Tahoe

Distance from SF: 203 miles

If you drive up to Tahoe and stay down in the lower elevations, you can go hiking. If you head up, you can still do some spring skiing at resorts like Mount Rose Ski Tahoe and Northstar which still have about three to five feet of snow. Not too many people are out on the trails now and hikes like the waterside Rubicon Trail from Emerald Bay to D.L. Bliss are relatively empty. Check out the four-mile Martis Creek Trail near Truckee and see mule deer, coyotes and nesting killdeer in the spring.

Dining in Nevada City

Distance from SF: 146 miles

The area around Nevada City is green and blooming in the spring and the Yuba River is flowing. Charming hotels like the Deer Creek Inn serve gourmet breakfasts and homemade Limoncello. Friar Tuck’s Restaurant & Bar has fondue and live music, and the BriarPatch Co-Op Deli in Grass Valley serves homemade soups like Tofu Coconut Curry. Other dining and drinking options include vegetarian rice and veggie bowls at fudenjüce, and both brews and baked goods at Three Forks Bakery & Brewery. At the ol’ Republic Brewery, you can sit down with your Dortmunder and order food from any local restaurant.

Biking at Lake Almanor

Distance from SF: 266 miles

Lake Almanor is not only a great place to camp and fish in the summer, but the lake’s basin also has several bike trails including the 25 mile long Bizz Johnson Trail and the 15 mile Lake Almanor Recreation Trail. For something shorter, check out the 9.5 mile Lake Almanor Recreation Trail which meanders the southwest shore of the lake. Each bike route has a trail guide.

Hot Springs in Markleeville

Distance from SF: 203 miles

Markleeville seems to attract motorcyclists, so if you have a bike—head down to this tiny house at the base of the Eastern Sierra. The Wolf Creek Restaurant & Bar has perfect Harley parking out front and serves fresh trout and Bloody Mary’s. Just down the road Grover Hot Springs State Park has a campground to go with its natural hot waters. The green, hot pool and the cold blue pool are open every day except Wednesdays.

Skiing at Mammoth Mountain

Distance from SF: 330 miles

If you still want to do some skiing, Mammoth is known for some of the best spring skiing in the country, which is why the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams make Mammoth their destination for spring training. The 11,053 foot mountain still has about five feet of snow and 41 groomed trails. Spring break brings much fewer crowds than winter break, along with discounted rates and some spectacular waterfalls.

Photos courtesy of Three Forks Bakery & BreweryTruckee Donner Land Trust, Plumas County, Christina Nellemann, Mammoth Mountain

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