Find breathtaking summer views in Lake Tahoe things to do while avoiding the crowded beaches

Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is an outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland with adventure for the whole family in any season. Loaded with hiking trails, rivers and restaurants, Lake Tahoe should be one of the places you visit this summer. Here are some of the best locations and top things to do in Lake Tahoe.

Hike Vikingsholm Trail This Summer

Vikingsholm Trail is one of the best trails to hike during summer, located on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. Starting at the Observation area, also the parking lot, for those just wanting to take in the view. Though the short one mile hike is along a very well groomed path.

Vikingsholm trail leads you to Vikingsholm Castle.  This historic building with 38 rooms is where they provide tours from mid June to September from 10am-4pm. This castle and picnic benches are awaiting your arrival on a more secluded beach at the bottom of the trail.

Local lore states that the last and only resident of Vikingsholm Castle one day vanished after swimming out to (the farther than it looks) tea castle located in the center of Emerald Bay. Some go a bit farther as to say that Tahoe Tessie could very well be the culprit. Aside from rumor, there is in fact a fault line dividing California and Nevada.

emerald bay with tea castle island during sunset

Photo: Tom Gainor via Unsplash

Go Paddle Boarding this summer

Paddle boarding Lake Tahoe is the best way to be on the deepest clearest alpine lakes in the world without contributing to the eutrophication. There are many locations that rent paddle boards around the 191.6 mi² lake and many coves to explore.

Why not use a motorized boat? Motorized boats put off CO2 and leak oil into the water. While working with the Lake Tahoe Resource Conservation District (TRCD), I learned that no two lakes really have the same requirements for decontamination.

This means that non native, possibly invasive species, can hide away in the boat engines and survive till the motorized boat enters a new body of water. The TRCD inspects motorized boats before entering Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake and Angora Lakes, while leaving non-motorized boats (paddle boards) up to the public.

Own your own paddle board or are borrowing one? Before bringing it to this amazingly clear lake learn how to inspect your own vessel and become a Tahoe Keeper here for free.

view from paddle board crystal clear water mountain in background

Photo: makenzie cooper via Unsplash

Visit Taylor Creek Visitor Center in Lake Tahoe

The Taylor Creek Visitor Center has a very informative hike for the whole family. The Rainbow Trail brings you through Lake Tahoe native vegetation while following the beautiful Taylor Creek. If you have questions along the way there is a wildlife biologist near the viewing tank to answer any budding scientists questions.

Though open during summer from May through September, on October 5th and 6th 2019 there will be the annual Salmon Festival. This is one of the most fascinating educational and wildlife viewing festivals in California. Along the half mile walking trail there will be biologists pointing out interesting facts about the marshes, forests and “red rivers.”

Thousands of Salmon come to mate during this time and it is definitely an exciting experience to witness. Keep a distance from bears they do make an appearance at times because salmon are their natural diet, don’t fret they are way more interested in the buffet. They do ask for visitors not to take photos with the bears and they have shut down the event in the passed due to selfie takers.

shaggy dog beside river with hundreds of red salmon below surface of water

Photo: Brigitte Werner via Pixabay

See Fallen Leaf Lake

Fallen Leaf Lake is a small lake in the basin about a mile west of the large Lake Tahoe. Find some unique lesser visited beaches that are covered in driftwood, nicely kept campground and a small convenience store.

This location is only really accessible to the public in the spring and summer due to the Lake Tahoe notorious snowfalls. This location allows access to the surrounding hiking trails, paddle boarding and of course the beautiful view of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

reflective water surrounded by trees and mountains

Photo: Denys Nevozhai via Unsplash

Hike Angora Lakes Trail this summer

Angora Lakes is a 1.2 mile long trail used for trail running and nature walks during summer. It’s just a little higher elevation than Fallen Leaf Lake though much more secluded. With a small store and little cabins for rent at one side the other has nice cliffs for jumping.

The cliffs range from 20ft all the way up to 75ft that is only recommended for experienced cliff jumpers. I personally am not to daring so I keep to the 20ft side, though I know many people that have gone off the 75ft cliff, I’ve seen some land incorrectly. They do also rent out paddle boards if you’re looking to just observe and the forest service supplies park tables for those wanting just to watch.

At one time there were fully grown sugar pine trees that you could swim down to look at though they had to remove them due to safety hazard. Though always check the bottom of the cliffs for any floating debris just to be safe. Dogs are also allowed though only on the leash to keep them from scaring off any wildlife.

small lake brimmed with trees and calm reflective blue water

Photo: Estro via Creative Commons

See the view from Mount Tallac

The Mount Tallac trail is 10.2 miles and is rated as a difficult trail. A wilderness permit is required and can be purchased prior to the trip or one can be picked up at the trail head. The trail is ideal for hiking during summer from May through to October though many people like to snow shoe or ride the cross in the winter.

Along the hike are two small lakes, flowery meadows and nice views of desolation wilderness. There are plenty of squirrels, chipmunks, marmots and other creatures along this hike that I urge you not to feed. It seems like these little guys do like to beg for trail mix and even take things from your picnic when you aren’t looking so stay vigilant.

This hike gives you full view of Lake Tahoe with Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake and Desolation Wilderness. I recommend doing this hike on your second day in Lake Tahoe to avoid any elevation sickness as the basin is 6,225 feet and Mount Tallac is 9,738ft that’s a 3513ft elevation change.

view from the top of mount tallac full view of fallen leaf lake, emerald bay and all of lake tahoe

Photo: Mathieu Thouvenin via Creative Commons

To sum all this up Lake Tahoe is an amazing wonderland with so many things to do and places to see this is really just a tip of an iceberg. I lived here for about 9 years and always did something new during any time off I had. I highly recommend coming here on the shoulder seasons because there are vastly less people and you’re more likely to run into locals that might share some more locations.

Check out these links for more travel destination ideas:

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