So we carry on with our road trip around the best of California. This time it is all about of one of the places that surprised us the most because of its unexpected beauty: Lake Tahoe. We are facing the largest alpine lake in North America.
As I repeat in each article: I’ll tell you about what we did. That’s why if I talk about “The best hikes around Lake Tahoe” I’m talking to you from our experience.
We did not do all of them. But the few we did were wonderful and they left us wanting to return. Shall we start?
Where is Lake Tahoe?
The lake is 1,897 m high in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the western United States. It means the natural border between California and Nevada.
In fact, if you drive around it by car, you would be passing from one State to another in a matter of minutes.
It is 3 hours away from San Francisco and is the midpoint between two wonderful National Parks: the Lassen Volcanic Park, which we discussed in the article the Best of California: Lassen Volcanic NP, and Yosemite National Park.
I’ll tell you about the southern part of the lake, the place where 75% of the lodging options are located. Hence, the greatest number of entertainment options are there: South Lake Tahoe.
What to do in South Lake Tahoe, one of the best of California
To begin with, we will place ourselves in the beauty of this place: a huge lake of 114 kilometers of coastline, and an average depth of more than 300 meters, surrounded by mountains, pine forests, and an innumerable offer for nature lovers.
Among those offers, which include water activities, paragliding, horseback riding, among others, I’ll talk about the one we enjoy the most as a family: hiking.
FYI: Lake Tahoe is an important ski center during the winter months. We were lucky enough to visit it in the spring, one of the most beautiful times to enjoy the hikes that this region offers.
As I clarified in the beginning, these are the hikes we did, and that is why they are not necessarily the best since it depends on the hiker. But we found them to be fabulous and very nice to do with children.
Emerald Bay, Eagle Falls & Eagle Lake Trail
This walk begins at the side of the road, where there is a small parking lot where to leave the car.
Here on the map you can see where:
First of all you will have to cross the road with extreme care and start the small and easy descent towards the lower part of the Eagle Falls (Lower Eagle Falls). This were one of the most beautiful waterfalls that we saw during our trip.
Not only because of the waterfall itself, which runs through hundreds of rocks before falling into the waters of the lake but because of the environment itself.
From there you can appreciate all the beauty of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains at their best. It is an ideal place to take a good time and simply admire the landscape. This is definitely one of the best of California.
From there you can enjoy the view towards Fannette Island, the only island on the lake, which reminded us a lot of the island in Lake Bled, in Slovenia.
Although the best view of that island is at a point on the road without any signaling, so you have to be looking for that money spot:
Once you have enjoyed that break and those views, you will have to cross the road again to start the hike that will take you to the Eagle Lake.
As I told you, it is a hike that is said to be easy according to a lot of web pages. But it is not easy to do it with a 2-year-old kid, especially in the beginning.
However, the views of the bay from above, and the reward of the lake at the end of the walk, make the effort worthwhile.
The road runs through forests, wooden bridges, natural rock stairs, and mountains. The rumor of the waterfalls accompany us throughout the journey.
Duration: 3.2 kilometers round trip
Difficulty: Emerald Bay and Eagle Falls are easily accessible without practically walking. The ascent to Eagle Lake becomes somewhat complicated to go with very young children since the start is a series of very steep natural rock steps. Once up, the path becomes simpler. It’s perfect to do with older kids.
Fallen Leaf Lake, Glen Alpine Falls and Lily Lake
If you do not want to be there after you see the picture above, I tell you that this mountain lake is only 1.5 kilometers away from Lake Tahoe. But in that small distance you will find a big difference: a magnificent solitude.
We discovered there a small beach to rest our feet in the water while our son enjoyed the sand. Surrounded by the mountains, with the clouds swimming in the clear water, we could not ask for a better place.
There are many walks that start from there but we decided to enjoy the afternoon simply admiring the landscape and the silence.
In warmer months I guess that it is a much more visited place where to do water activities.
The water is potable, of great purity, and so transparent that it allows a visibility of up to 15 meters towards the bottom.
From there a good option is to go up to the Glen Alpine Falls, some beautiful waterfalls that are shorter than the others in the area, but wider. Being away from the route you can sit down and enjoy the sounds of nature, without much tourism around.
You can get there by car passing the fire station, or by a nice walk. From there the best thing to do is to continue on the way to another of the beautiful places in the surroundings: Lily Lake. It is a lake accessible by car, or you can get there on foot if you want to do a little exercise.
It is a small lake that also offers us a haven of tranquility away from the more touristy Lake Tahoe. The surroundings feel more rugged, less touched by man (I would even say that practically untouched).
A bike ride around the Lake
For a different activity than hiking, a bike ride on the shores of Lake Tahoe is a great option. There are several companies that rent bicycles in this area of the lake. But we, when staying at the Hotel Azure, had the bicycles of the hotel at our disposal. And we took advantage of them.
From there, there is a bicycle path that takes you around the lake. It then enters the lonely streets on the outskirts of the city. It is well delimited so it is impossible to get lost. A very good option to do something different in this beautiful lake that offers everything.
If you need more information about the activities to do in Lake Tahoe, I recommend you visiting the Visit California website, which was the best option when organizing our activities. There you can discover the best of California and decide for yourself.
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