Soda Springs Soaring Site

Soda Springs, CA

Description: This alpine site is located off Interstate 80 between Sacramento and Truckee in the Tahoe National Forest, and offers a spectacular vista of the Sierras overlooking the source of the North Fork of the American River.

Location: Heading west on Interstate 80, drive 12 miles beyond the junction with Highway 20, and turn off at the Soda Springs exit. Drive right/south 0.6 miles on Donner Pass Road, and turn right on Soda Springs Road. Drive 2.1 miles (passing the Soda Springs Ski resort) to where the road becomes dirt. Set your odometer here near the lake, and drive an additional 2.1 miles. Here at the first sharp hairpin turn to the left in the main road, turn instead right/SW onto a narrow spur, and follow it less than 0.1 mile to the cul-de-sac overlooking the valley. Launch about 100 feet from the parking area over the slope facing SW.

Flying and Cautions: In the afternoon, the "delta breeze" from the SW in the valley is more like a gale in these alpine valleys, and provides the wind for lift at this site. The lift is reasonably strong and smooth here given the regular thermals coming up the sides of the valley. The site is a rounded knob projecting south into the valley, and the valley runs east-west, so the best lift will generally be on the more western side of this plateau. The rounded shape of the slope tends to diffuse the lift though, and there may not be as much lift as you might think given the velocity, so hold off on the ballast. The slope is steep and rocky and about 300 feet above the forest below, but you could scramble down if need be--keep in mind that the lift can cycle considerably as thermals move through, and try not to get low any distance from the face. Also keep in mind that those are regular towering trees below and not wind-stunted like the ones on the plateau . . . if you get low, keep it away from the trees.

Lots of low bushes and pebbly soil make a reasonable landing area behind the slope, but an occassional rock juts through. The wind stays attached on the plateau with little rotor, so crab it over from the south face and let it drop in the bushes as the lift tails out.

Photographs: The picture above shows the view from the parking area and the west-most side of the flying site, facing SW toward Sacramento.

More photos and captions below.

Links:

TopoZone topographic map of the site. The site is half way between "6782" and "6319".

Yahoo map of the Soda Springs Area.

TerraServer Sat Photo of the site.

Home Page.

Rob Crockett, 8/2000

View from the parking area of the launch and landing area.

Looking SE from behind the landing area. The peak on the left is Squaw Peak, and beyond is the Squaw Valley Ski Area.