Listed in the top five “Domestic Destinations for Vacationers” by USA Today in 2005, Lake Tahoe’s abundance of outdoor summer sports and recreation brings hikers, bikers, climbers, fishers, golfers, and nature-loving adventurers to the region.
In fact, USA Today spotlighted Lake Tahoe as one of the top five “Domestic Destinations for Vacationers” in 2005, and Travelgirl Magazine named Lake Tahoe’s South Shore number ten in its top 13 “Favorite Winter Wonderlands.” Orbitz.com recognized South Shore as the country’s “Best Destination for Non-Skiers Traveling with Skiers” in November of 2005.
For those looking to enjoy the Lake Tahoe area away from the water, there are a multitude of options.
Hundreds of glacial lakes, 63,475 acres of pristine wilderness, sub-Alpine forests, valleys, and granite peaks await hikers geared for Tahoe’s finest – Desolation Wilderness. Because adventurers exploring the backcountry will find Desolation in its natural form and on its own terms, with the possibility of encountering sudden storms, wild fires, and other hazards, wilderness permits are required. Permits can be obtained and self-issued at most trailheads for day hikers or at U.S. Forest Service offices on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe for overnights. For more information on permits or trails, contact Desolation Wilderness at 530-543-2600 or log onto www.fs.fed.us
More than 300 miles of hiking trails offer access to the wilderness areas in the Tahoe basin, and hikers and mountain bikers will be amazed by its pristine natural beauty, rugged cliffs, and steep mountain terrain.
The Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile natural wonder open to hikers, equestrians, and in some areas to mountain bikers, encompasses the ridge tops of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Elevation on the trail ranges from 6,300 to 10,333 feet and is accessible from 12 different trailheads around the lake. The trail is fairly level, making it ideal for families with young children.
The Mt. Tallac/Glen Alpine Trail, the 9,736-foot peak that dominates views throughout South Shore, winds past the historic Glen Alpine Springs. The one-way trail climbs 3,275 feet over a distance of just 5.3 miles and is one of the most challenging in the basin. A rocky scramble to the summit is the last hurdle for those who make it to the top; hikers are rewarded at the summit with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. The trailhead is located off Fallen Leaf Lake Road approximately three miles from the junction of Highway 89 and Highway 50.
The Cascade Falls trail is a mild hike to the base of a 200-foot waterfall. The one-mile hike begins at the Bayview Campground off Highway 89 near Emerald Bay.
At the top of the Heavenly Gondola, hiking trails meander through the high Sierra forest with sweeping views of Lake Tahoe along the way. Routes vary from 1.6 miles to just under four miles round-trip.
For rock climbers, Tahoe is nirvana thanks to massive spires of granite prevalent around the region. Sierra Mountain Guides, 775-852-4049 or www.sierramtnguides.com, will show climbers Tahoe’s more impressive peaks and climbing routes or teach them the basics. Equipment is provided, and group rates are offered. Climbers who are not quite ready for Mother Nature can visit Kirkwood for its 30-foot climbing wall complete with a straight surface, an incline, and an overhang. The wall is open weekends and holidays.
Mountain Biking, Cycling, and Ski-biking
Biking is ranked as the third most popular outdoor vacation activity in American, according to The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). Lake Tahoe’s South Shore boasts miles of bike trails for all ability levels, both paved and off-road.
The Angora Lake Climb is an eight-mile paved and dirt trail appropriate for beginners. Despite its minor 270-foot elevation gain, this route offers stunning view of Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Mt. Tallac. The trail starts about one mile east of Fallen Leaf Lake. At trail’s end, cyclists can sip lemonade at Angora Lakes Resort or cool off with a dip in the lake.
Two paved bike paths offer a leisurely ride well suited to families. The Pope-Baldwin Bike Path is relatively smooth and flat and meanders around Historic Camp Richardson, the Tallac Historic Site, and Fallen Leaf Lake. The South Lake Tahoe Bike Path runs through town, beginning at El Dorado Beach and crossing both Trout Creek and the Upper Truckee River.
The Flume Trail has been called one of Western America’s Top Ten Routes. The off-road trail begins at Spooner Lake and finishes near the Ponderosa Ranch at Incline Village. Shuttle service, guided tours, and mountain bike rentals are available at Spooner Lake.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride on the South Shore is one of the most popular for avid road cyclists. Five high mountain passes within 100 miles offer an ultimate endurance challenge.
Although mountain biking is an exhilarating way to experience Tahoe’s mountain terrain once the snow melts, some epic winter enthusiasts head into Tahoe’s world famous backcountry terrain. Sierra-at-Tahoe, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, and Heavenly Mountain Resort offer a variety of alternatives to skiing and snowboarding down the mountain. Rent a ski-bike or snow-scoot at Sierra-at-Tahoe for a change from traditional transportation down the mountain; visit www.sierraattahoe.com. At Kirkwood, rent a snowskate and hit the customized snowskate park to experience something new for a day; visit www.kirkwood.com. At the top of the Heavenly Gondola, pick up a tube and cruise the tubing park for the afternoon; visit www.skiheavenly.com. Or, Sierra Ski & Cycle Works rents just about everything, including full-suspension mountain bikes, avalanche beacons, and probes. The shop encourages adventurers to speak with a guide for advice on routes prior to heading out.
Horseback and Carriage Rides
Scenic wilderness horseback and old fashioned carriage or hay rides in the warm weather are as essential as sleigh rides are in the winter snow. Among the favorites are Borges Family Sleigh and Carriage Rides, Camp Richardson Corral, Kirkwood Corrals, and Zephyr Cove Stables.
Fun packed adventure on two wheels awaits daredevils ready to take in the sites of the surrounding Sierra Nevada while on an adrenaline tour of a lifetime
Try an off-highway adventure on the world-famous Rubicon Trail or in the dramatic Nevada Desert or tour the scenic backcountry in a rugged Jeep, ATV, or Hummer. Professionally guided tours are available seven days a week year-round At Lake Tahoe Adventures.
Many rivers flowing in the Tahoe basin offer fly fishermen ample opportunities to cast flies all year round. The American River, which flows westward out of the Tahoe basin along Highway 50 heading toward Sacramento, is one of the most picturesque rivers in the area and is easily accessible by simply pulling off the Highway. The East and West Carson Rivers just south of South Shore are also prime spots to cast a fly. Several smaller lakes in the area, including Spooner Lake on Highway 50 and Martis Creek Reservoir, are also top fly fishing spots. There are many guide services that can provide tackle, bait, instruction, and a guide for those wishing to explore fishing in Tahoe.
Visitors looking to tee it up will find 45 courses – including designs by Trent Jones Sr. and Jr., Nicklaus, Palmer, Miller, Weiskopf, Fazio, Harbottle, Zoeller, and Jacobsen – all within a 90-minute drive of Lake Tahoe. And playing in the thinner air of Lake Tahoe’s 6,300-foot elevation, golfers can expect an extra boost – about 10 percent – on each shot.
Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course is the site of the American Century Championship on NBC-TV and has been recognized as a Golf Digest’s prestigious Top 100. Bordering Lake Tahoe, it’s considered one of the country’s most breathtaking courses. The last three holes border Lake Tahoe. Tees can reach up to 7,600 yards over manicured fairways, through pine forests, and open meadows. Water on 14 holes and lightening fast greens make a lasting impression. The course was the site of the 1985 U.S. Senior Open and the 1980 U.S. Public Links Championship.
Located in a mountain meadow surrounded by the High Sierras, the spectacular 18-hole Lake Tahoe Golf Course on Emerald Bay, designed by Billy Bell Jr , challenges golfers of all levels. The par 71, 18-hole championship course is the perfect setting for golfers who want to enjoy the combination of a picturesque location with few houses and a rewarding golf experience. To make a T-time, call 530-577-0788.
Centrally located on the South Shore, Bijou Municipal Golf Course is an executive 9-hole golf course, par 33, with pro shop, practice net, rentals, and putting green. This is an ideal course for beginners and families. No tee times required, but for more information, call 530-544-5050.
Within a short driving distance from South Lake Tahoe is The Golf Club at Genoa Lakes. Voted the fourth best new public course in North America in 1994 by Golf Digest, the Lakes course is a challenging John Harbottle and Peter Jacobsen design. The Resort course is a par-72 course nestled in the valley of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Magic Carpet Golf is the only miniature golf “course” on the South Shore. Newly renovated and located adjacent to the Tahoe Amusement Park, this is the place to bring the entire family. From huge black spiders dangling in their webs to the giant vividly colored school of fish, kids and adults alike will enjoy putting the day away for under $10.
Historic Sites, Museums, and Natural Parks
The Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum showcases the area’s most comprehensive collections of early photos, pioneer implements, and Washoe Indian basketry as well as a fine model of the historic S.S. Tahoe and the basin’s oldest erect building. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Thunderbird Lodge is one of the best examples of a great residential estate on Lake Tahoe. Built in 1939, it was designed to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. Tours are available by reservation only. Visitors must be shuttled to the lodge from the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Visitor’s Center.
D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay State Parks offer the most breathtaking views of the Lake, the mountains, and Tahoe’s only island – Fannette Island. Both parks have campgrounds, hiking trails, swimming, fishing, and interpretive activities. The D.L. Bliss State Park has a wonderful beach on Rubicon Bay which is also a trailhead for the Rubicon Point Trail that continues to Vikingsholm Castle, the most popular attraction on the west end of Emerald Bay. The castle is considered the finest example of Scandinavian architecture in the United States and is open for guided tours during the summer months.
Sugar Pine Point State Park, a picturesque park along the shore of Lake Tahoe, features a year round operated campground, the Ehrman Mansion and Sugar Pine Point Nature Center. Ehrman Mansion is one of the most exquisite historic summer homes on Lake Tahoe and is open for guided tours July through Labor Day. For more information or to make a reservation, call 530-525-7982.
For real time updates on events, promotions, packages, conditions and events in Tahoe South, The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority is on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TahoeSouth, Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TahoeSouth, YouTube: www.youtube.com/LTVA. For Tahoe South information: 1-800-288-2463 or www.tahoesouth.com.
Source: The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority