This trip presents two options, both of which lead up a moderately sloped climb to places that get heavily used during the summer months but are satisfyingly quiet in the snowy season.
The first spot is the Angora Fire Lookout, first constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and used until the late 1970s. The trail to the lookout is a well-defined path up Angora Ridge Road (NF-1214). This road is gated off to winter traffic, though you may end up sharing the trail with the occasional snowmobile. Over the trail to the lookout you'll leave lower meadows and aspen groves and ascend into a forest of lodgepole pine and white fir. After 2 miles and 570 feet of ascent you'll reach the lookout, three well-maintained buildings perched on a ridge with views over Fallen Leaf Lake and Mount Tallac to the immediate west and Lake Tahoe just beyond the visible edge of Fallen Leaf. Jobs Sister and Freel Peak, the highest point in the Tahoe basin, are also visible to the east.
For those wanting to proceed, continue up Angora Ridge Road as it levels out along the ridge overlooking the 3,100-acre burn area of the 2007 Angora Fire. The trail rounds a bend and brings you to the Angora Lakes parking area (snowmobiles are restricted beyond this point). A short gain in elevation takes you from the road and onto a forested trail that weaves up to Angora Lakes, two small lakes with rental cabins on the banks that remain boarded up and quiet this time of year. At the upper lake, the throngs of summer tourists are replaced by animal tracks through undisturbed snow. You'll hear the crackle of water falling down the frozen face of Echo Peak to the south, which stands with Angora Peak to the southwest to form the a huge bowl that frames upper Angora Lake.
After taking in the solitude, turn around and retrace your steps over the 764-foot descent back to the trailhead.
Note that the road to the trailhead and parking area is not maintained during the winter months. If the road is inaccessible you can park on Tahoe Mountain Road 0.1 miles before the trailhead in front of the signs warning of no winter road maintenance.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.