Although Truckee falls outside the determined parameters for RealSmallTowns.com, we found ourselves there after being turned back on Donner Pass in a spring storm for lack of tire chains, and after spending a single night here, we were in love with the place and opted to spend another two.
Despite the large population of the town, Truckee proper feels much smaller and much more local than the numbers would suggest. Much of the population size is due to the large number of second homes located in nearby Northstar and Squaw Valley resorts –and such changing demographics have forced the locals of Truckee to respond and change in mostly positive ways. Oddly, though the area is home to so many non-resident homes, the town itself has a strong local flavor and community feel to it, as local activists maintain a vigorous sense of identity and commitment to place.
The vibe of Truckee is simultaneously laid-back, hip, and sophisticated. There is still the residue of the older days -when Truckee was a logging town, and aging ski bums could still afford to eek out a living- mixed with the increasing gentrification of which the local sushi restaurant is a certain harbinger.
Of course the primary attraction of Truckee these days is the incredible outdoors; situated in the north-eastern Sierras with Lake Tahoe only 12 miles away, and Donner Lake just outside of town. Opportunities for downhill snow sports, cross-county skiing, road and mountain biking, hiking and backpacking, swimming, rafting, fishing and golfing all abound. Despite the soaring cost of real estate, the vibe of Truckee is comfortable for both the couch-hopping ski bum and the San Francisco socialite.
In 2005 the Northstar ski area expanded its mountain village to include additional townhomes and condominiums, and a luxury hotel along with 35 shops and restaurants. This has had significant impact on the local Truckee economy and there is now a strong movement in downtown Truckee to keep the local shops and restaurants thriving. Such grassroots organization and community building is what gives Truckee the distinct local flavor that realsmalltowns is seeking.
Elevation: 5,840 feet
Avg Temp in January: 41/16
Avg Temp in July: 83/42
Known for: Nordic Sports, Mountain Biking & Hiking, Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake, 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley, Local Food Initiative, Amtrak service