Fallen Leaf Chapel Offers Summer Solace

Fallen Leaf Chapel Offers Summer Solace

By Lori Korleski Richardson, Interim Communications Director

Summer officially starts this week, but for most people, Memorial Day marks the start of summer. It's also when one of our diocese's smallest churches, St. Francis of the Mountains, opens for the season.

Better known as Fallen Leaf Chapel, it lies near the end of Fallen Leaf Lake Road, which is rather narrow and a long drive after you make the turnoff near Camp Richardson on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf's much larger sister to the northeast.

National Geographic calls our chapel, built in 1923, "the cutest little building in all of Lake Tahoe! Tucked away in a grove of aspen, it is one of the most serene settings you'll ever experience. The Chapel at Fallen Leaf Lake is only open during the summer for services, although you can stroll by or ride your bike by any time of the year. The surrounding area overflows with charm and nostalgia, and there is a lovely memorial garden with plaques dedicated to loved ones located next to the chapel." Former Bishop Jerry Lamb started a separate area for furry companions with a plaque to his corgi Fauvion.

The Rev. Kent McNair, whose father Edward was bishop suffragan under the Rt. Rev. Clarence Haden, schedules the clergy coverage for the chapel. Bishop McNair convinced the William Price family to deed it to the Diocese of Northern California in 1978; the small but comfortable cabin next to it was named the McNair Manse in honor of him. Behind the cabin is a one-room bunkhouse with four beds. The Church Trail located right behind the chapel leads straight up to Angora Lakes. It is a very steep trail, but the views of Fallen Leaf Lake and Desolation Wilderness are worth the hike.

The chapel has a steady summer attendance for the months it is open, mostly drawn from the community that spends its summers on Fallen Leaf Lake. The only weddings scheduled in the chapel are for people or relatives of people who live there.

The chapel is at 280 Fallen Leaf Lake Road just before Glen Alpine Falls at 6559 feet elevation. Services are Sundays at 8 and 10 a.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. All are welcome.

Photograph by Lori Korleski Richardson

The front of St. Francis of the Mountains, better know as Fallen Leaf Chapel. For a slideshow of the chapel and Fallen Leaf Lake, click here.

© 2013 The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.

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