The Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) circles the entire lake. It's a popular trail, but it is so lengthy that when hiking along it at any one part, you'll encounter only a handful of hikers. Many parts of the trail will reward you with beautiful vistas of the lake and back country.
The entire TRT is 150 miles long and there are many trailheads. See map on website. Along the trail are many spots for backpackers to set up camp. You may see a bear (or two, or more), but to date, they have never bothered us.
The story of the Donner Party is part of Sierra lore. If you don't know it, the party consisted of several families, led by George Donner, who were emigrating to California by wagon train in 1846. The took a short cut that turned out to be a long cut and ended up trying to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains by Lake Tahoe just as winter set in. They got trapped not far from the summit and ended up camping at a lake for the winter. The snow fell rapidly, accumulatingto 22 feet (The base of the statue in the picture is 22 feet!) and about a third of the hundred people starved. The survivors were forced to cook and eat their remains until they (the survivors) were rescued in April 1847.
Donner State Park marks the site on which they camped, which is the exit west of the Tahoe City exit on I-80. Check out the excellent museum and film.
Would you like to do a short easy hike through two states? The Stateline Fire Road Trail is for you, your older relatives and possibly even small children. If you get to park atthe tiop of the hill (we didn't), it's a short mile-long amble on a paved trail with benches and informative signs leading to a fire lookout. Right above Stateline, Nevada, this trail provides awesome views from a prominatory that juts out into Lake Tahoe. i took my parents (both in their 70's) on it and they loved it, even though we had to climb an extra half mile and about 500 feet in elevation because the road was closed. You get great views along the north shore, of Incline Village and of the Nevada side. You can't beat the scenary for such minimal effort.
To get there, turn left right after the Biltmore Casino (if you're coming from California), then proceed up the firehouse road until you see a gate. The hike goes past the gate and up!!
Try this is you want to feel like a kid again, or if you still are one. The soft, powdery snow is perfect for making an angel like figure. It is pretty cold and wet though, so proper clothing is recommended.
I'd never tried this before. Actually, I've never tried most winter activities since I live in a place that has no winter. Snowmobiling was a lot of fun. We found this high ridge, hidden behind a water tower, that was perfect for sliding downwards holding onto a board that picked up speed as it descended the somewhat steep slope, seemingly careening towards tall pine trees which could do some serious damage on impact. Thankfully, everyone was right in that its really easy to navigate. Its also pretty easy to abandon board if things get out of control.
The only downside to snowmobiling is the steep walk back up. But even that was not enough of a deterrent to try it, at least once.
An important part of visiting Lake Tahoe is to just stop and enjoy the simpler pleasures of being on the shore of a great clear, beautiful lake. Because Lake Tahoe results from a depression in the Sierra Nevada mountains that has filled with water, there are plenty of rocks around. Take some time to revisit your childhood and relearn the skills of skipping rocks. Can you get six skips out of one throw? On a warm afternoon by a calm lake, there are few questions more important.
That's definitely the thought of these children, still dressed up for my cousin's wedding but carring not at all about the festivities. Hey, they're too young for beer, so they have to entertain themselves somehow!
Surprisingly, Lake Tahoe has a long history of being a place to run off and get married. Both the California and Nevada sides, at one time or another, had lax laws that made them destinations for those eloping. However, my cousin Rachel and her husband Chris didn't elope. Given that Rachel grew up in Reno meant that she was getting married at home.
If for some reason you won't or can't make it to Heavenly (snow, traffic, time), the best alternative for skiing with Lake Tahoe views is Incline Village. Located in Nevada on the north side of the Lake, Incline is a smaller, lesseer known area that doesn't attract the outsider crowds like Squaw and Heavenly. One of the reasons for that is the lack of abundant challenging terrain for the expert. But if you're happy with long cruising runs and you want Lake views, Incline is a fine alternative to Heavenly.
Most people come to Lake Tahoe in the winter for skiing or in the summer for outdoor summer activities. One of my favorite times for Tahoe is in the fall.
Why? Tahoe, being in the Sierras, gets four seasons, and that can't be said of most parts of California. The fall colors are gorgeous, and this year I managed to make it to Lake Tahoe for peak foliage.
Another reason fall is such a great time for a visit is the lack of crowds. Traffic is lighter. It is easier to make the drive from the Bay Area to Tahoe. Restaurants are easier to get into. Accommodations have a high vacancy rate -- in fact, most places offer major discounts in the room rates in the fall.
I have visited Tahoe two autumns in a row now - in mid October. The weather was beautiful during both visits. Not too cold and not too hot.
Perfect. And perfectly beautiful.
Lake Tahoe sits at 6229 feet altitude. It is a natural lake surrounded by dramatic mountain peaks as high as 12,000 feet. Often people assume that the lake was created like Crater Lake - by a volcano that blew its top and filled up with water. Not so with Lake Tahoe. The Tahoe Basin was created by volcanic activity when mountains were formed that caused the basin to fill up with snowmelt. However there never existed a Mount Tahoe that ever blew its top.
Numerous beach access points are all over the shore. Take a walk at dawn and you'll likely be treated to a beautiful sunrise.
I took this picture on a lovely October morning as I was making a phone call to New York City, and was immediately treated to the sight of a bear walking along the bluff several dozen feet away.