Tour de Manure: See the Sierra Valley

Meet the meadows and ranchlands of this beautiful Tahoe-close stretch.

GRAVITATIONAL PULL: It wouldn't be quite right, factually, to compare places on this planet to actual planets, in terms of the gravitational pull or the draw those places exert. The moon, for instance, has some serious connection to the tides, and saying our own personal gravitational pull to a favorite getaway destination is similar only really works poetically. But say it we do, because it is true: If you truly love a location, it can tug on you with near-gravity, like the moon or Saturn or Neptune, and you've got to return, again and again. Many people feel that planetary pull when Lake Tahoe is the place in question, no doubt about it. This is lovely, of course, because feeling the pull of a pretty place is a pleasure of being a traveler. But a place's strong pull can also make it tricky to see what sits just beyond its orbit. Take Sierra Valley, a beautiful region about two hours north of the lake, in Sierra and Plumas Counties. Rich with meadows and ranchlands and views and nature, the valley is a gem and worth exploring. Yes, that means adding another day to your Tahoe or Reno itinerary, or simply turning north from the I-80 instead of south. You could also get to know it in one glorious swath, which the Tour de Manure bicycle ride makes rather an easy and fun task. Yes, we did say...

TOUR DE MANURE: There are three loops, ranging from 30 miles to 62 miles, that take bicyclists through "the ranchlands, meadows, and historic communities of the Sierra Valley," so, for sure, you're going to get a pretty primer on what the not-far-from-Nevada region is all about, in terms of land layout, flora, and vistas. The ride benefits the Sierraville Fire and Rescue Department, nice, and you may see lots of local critters, from sandhill cranes to deer, as your wheels spin. Even if you can't make the ride, which rolls on Saturday, June 20, you can plan a toodle through the area most any time, though fall is rather glorious. And do you feel the pull? Like Lake Tahoe, Sierra Valley has a lake-y story, too; it is believed to be "an ancient lake bed," which is clear from some of its sweeping views. Want ideas for upping your Sierra Valley knowledge beyond the wonderfully named Tour de Manure? This is a fine place to begin.

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