Relocating to Oakland, difficulty: snowboarders
March 10, 2017 2:58 PM   Subscribe

I have been told by my work to start seriously thinking about relocating to Oakland by the end of this year. How do you get out to the mountain resorts consistently while living in this area, and where do you go? What are our prospects of finding snow/backcountry anywhere near the city?

Excuse my ignorance of the geography/weather patterns. We both currently have easy access to our home mountains just outside of Seattle for ample snowboarding any time of day or night. It's become obvious that relocating to Oakland will mean traveling extensively and planning ahead to get our pow fix. Mr. Snacks is very, very grumpy about this prospect and is feeling like it's out of his control, so I'm keen on having a game plan in advance so he knows what to expect.

For the reasons above, we're very open to having two different homes (one in the mountains, one near the city). I will have plenty of flexibility to work remotely or take time off at my own discretion so we can be gone for more than a weekend at a time. But not sure how feasible that is in terms of sheer cost.

If you have any advice for where we can live that's close to hiking trails, camping, and nature in general, that would be very welcome as well!
posted by Snacks to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
There is hiking and camping ALL OVER the place, here! One thing the Bay Area does well is you feel like everything is a cemented over freeway, but really you can get out into the hills in about 20 minutes. There are lots of places in the East Bay for day hiking an camping. Chabot Regional Park has both and is the closest to Oakland. Las Trampas is a bit East of that and Diablo a bit further East. Joseph D Grant and Henry Coe to the South are also great.

For snowboarding: Lake Tahoe. You can get there and back in a (long) day. If you were looking for a 2nd home that is the area where I would recommend looking. Snow sports in winter, hiking in summer!
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 3:15 PM on March 10

I live in Oakland now, but used to live in Seattle (spent a fair number of days at Steven's Pass when there, snowboarding). Tahoe is the most easily reachable mountain (series of mountains, really) out here, but it'll take about 4 hours to get there in the snow, and I think it's a bit pricier than what you'll be used to. Still, there are busses that will take you from the Bay Area to Tahoe so you don't have to drive yourself, and plenty of places to stay/eat/drink/fart around up there. It's a nice place on both the California and Nevada sides, and though South Lake Tahoe is more built up and "bro-centric" than the north end, all of Tahoe is lovely.

As CoffeeHikeNapWine suggests, the Bay Area is essentially awash in things to do outdoors, all year 'round. Hiking, hunting, wine country, surfing, diving, sailing, the list goes on and on and on. It'll be drier and sunnier than you're used to up in The Emerald City, and it's up to you how good or bad you think that is (a buddy of mine from Alaska literally HATES the sun, so...)

Price might be your biggest concern. Unless you're absolutely pulling it down, having two homes is going to be out of your price range. If you do end up buying a spare house in Tahoe though, let's be best friends for ever, OK? ;)

Tell Mr. Snacks that there's a lot to look forward to doing out here. DM me for more specific info if you want, and good luck.
posted by Pecinpah at 3:26 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]

If you live in the Oakland or Berkeley hills, you can have mountain lions wandering through your yard. Look at a map and see how much green space there is - there's a lot.

For snow, yeah, sorry, you're going to have to drive 3ish hours (depending on road conditions and where you go). The feasibility of maintaining two places, one of them in one most expensive urban areas in the US, is not something I can comment on, since it depends on your resources.
posted by rtha at 4:06 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]

Echoing everything said above. There are literally hundreds of lovely regional, State and even a few National Parks that have a near lifetime of nature and hiking and camping within an 60-90 minutes of Oakland. There are probably 30 parks within a half hour. That list of regional parks above is really only a sampling of all the mountain parks in the Bay Area. Kevin Going and Bay Area Hiker are outstanding resources.

You would be 3.5 hours from Yosemite, which is the size of Rhode Island, not to mention Sequoia NP, Lassen NP, Pinnacles NP, etc.

As far as snowboarding, you'd mostly be heading up to Tahoe. On a perfect traffic day, you could be at a resort in three hours, and you have ~15 resorts to choose from, as well snowshoeing, cross country, snowmobiling, etc. You should plan on four hours, however, and Sunday coming down the mountain sucks.
posted by cnc at 4:39 PM on March 10

As a practical concern, I've taken a charter bus that leaves from Pleasanton and has gotten to and from Kirkwood in 3 hours. They leave at about 6AM and get back at around 8PM (on no-snow days). They also have ones that leave from El Cerrito or Oakland. It's not the cheapest, but it beats driving up there by yourself.

The two outfits I know of are and
posted by thewumpusisdead at 4:50 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]

Dodge Ridge is a bit closer than Tahoe, but it's not Squaw.
posted by rhizome at 4:59 PM on March 10

My friends and I have a 3-bedroom ski lease in South Lake Tahoe (3-4 hours from Oakland). Another set of friends have a lease in Truckee/North Lake (3 hours from Oakland). Both dependent on chain control. You'll be driving 2.5 hours to reach the snow (for instance, a backcountry tour leaving from Twin Bridges on highway 50).

There are two resorts near South Lake, Kirkwood and Heavenly. Kirkwood is a 3-4 hour drive from Oakland. Heavenly is in the South Lake area itself. We have to drive 45 minutes to get to Kirkwood from our lease in South Lake. The main attraction is the plentiful backcountry options (Tahoe Backcountry), otherwise Squaw and Alpine Meadows up near Truckee are the better resorts.

It isn't the most convenient but many of my friends drive after 7p Friday night and leave Sunday from wherever they are to get back home. Having an AWD vehicle is key, since you won't be required to put on chains. Ski leases aren't impossible to find, since summer tourism is much bigger in Tahoe.
posted by just.good.enough at 6:25 PM on March 10

My partner and I backcountry ski and live in oakland. closest places are 2.5 to 3 hrs away depending on when you leave and how fast you drive. We go on lots of day trips (leaving 5 or 6 am) but there are a few backcountry hut options and if you snow camp, there are infinite options. Having/making friends with places to crash in and between the bay area and the mtns also makes is bearable!! If you resort ski, just know that everyone in California shows up at 10 am so try you best to be there way earlier than that or you are in traffic hell and may not find parking.
posted by ch3ch2oh at 7:27 PM on March 10

Yeah, all that I can add to what people have said is that if you drive to the mountains, LEAVE EARLY. Like super early. Traffic can be absolutely miserable, especially if there is any kind of weather in the mountain passes. It once took us 10 hours to get into the mountains, on a route that normally takes 2.5 hours.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:38 PM on March 11

Same as for the beach, really.
posted by rhizome at 7:29 PM on March 11

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