Chickadee Ridge is less of a winter trail and more of a common destination for snowshoers and cross-country skiers beginning their adventures from the popular Tahoe Meadows parking area. This area sees many cross-country skiers passing through on their way to the rolling downhill terrain on the western face below the ridge. Being one of the closest winter trail areas to the city of Reno, Tahoe Meadows can see a heavy amount of use, but the lack of a definitive trail allows for the gradual 400-foot climb to be as rugged as you desire. On these flat meadows and moderate slopes you'll cross paths with everyone from beginning snowshoers out for an easy and scenic walk to more advanced cross-country skiers eager to test the rolling terrain just beyond the ridge.
There is no set trail up Chickadee Ridge, but the way to the top is pretty easy to find. From the parking area along Mount Rose Highway and opposite the popular Tahoe Meadows sledding hill you can set out heading east into the wide and flat Tahoe Meadows. The mountain rising above the trees in an east-southeast direction is where you're headed. A good rule of thumb is to trace the forest along the meadow for about a half-mile until you reach the first wide opening into the trees. You can also continue farther down the meadow beyond this, leaving the meadow and entering the forest at any point.
In all but the freshest snow there will be numerous paths and trails crossing one another and carved out by previous hikers. You're free to choose your path based on the degree of incline you prefer. As long as you continue to climb in a southwest direction you will eventually come to the high point of the ridge (some navigational planing may be useful here).
From the top you'll be treated to views stretching from the distant peaks of Desolation Wilderness at the south end of Lake Tahoe, the lake's bright reflection beneath its western shores, and Crystal Bay and the radio towers at the summit of Relay Peak to the north. Near the top, the curious chickadees that are the namesake for the ridge may land on your snowshoes or hat.
For snowshoers wishing to return, just retrace your direction or cross over the top of the ridge and head down the slope in a northerly direction. The downhill slope will eventually lead you back to the meadows.
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.