Boca Reservoir Road is an easily-accessible forest road that makes for a beautiful and easy snowshoe or cross-country ski when winter conditions fall onto the slightly lower elevations of the Sierra.
The route follows a wide and clearly marked forest road that begins at Stampede Meadows Road and the Boca Reservoir Dam, where winter gates close the dam and forest road off to vehicular traffic. The route traces a road that goes through several name changes over a short span (Boca Dam Reservoir Road, Boca Road, Boca Lake Road); however, the route itself is easy to follow: once across the dam, veer right at a wide three-way intersection. From this point on the path follows the road just above Boca Reservoir's west flank. The road continues to the reservoir's north end, so you can choose to trace it as far as you'd like before turning around and following your path back to the dam.
Being very flat and easy to access, the beginning of the trail, particularly the portion that crosses the dam, is very popular with families and dog walkers. It is also a common spot to fish if the lake's edges aren't iced over. After crossing the dam, the crowds soon disappear.
Boca Campground, which is a popular summer campground that is closed during the winter, is a good turnaround point about a mile into the forest. By snowshoeing an additional half-mile through the length of the campground, it is possible to emerge from the isthmus to a bench at the far campsite perched over the reservoir lake. While snowshoe and cross-country tracks abound along the road, there are plenty of places to leave the road and wander down to the lakeshore that you may find empty of other tracks.
Venture to a distance you're comfortable with, then turn around and retrace your path to the parking area. There are no amenities of any type at the parking area or along the route. In all but the heaviest of snows, Stampede Meadows Road is plowed up to the parking turnout near Boca Dam and is usually accessible to all passenger vehicles. However, the lower elevation here means that the snow melts a little bit earlier than that at higher elevations around Truckee and Lake Tahoe.
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.