It is no secret that the Lake Tahoe area is a very unique and beautiful alpine setting. So much so, that many visitors are content simply relaxing on a back deck under the towering pine trees or taking a leisurely stroll along the sandy shores that border the crystal clear water. For those that harbor a little more sense of adventure, though, there are some great outdoor activities and places to see while vacationing on the north shore.
The Flume Trail – Considered one of the finest mountain bike trail rides in all the world. This east shore, “rim” trail offers incredible views of Marlette Lake, Spooner Lake, and Lake Tahoe. Most start at Spooner Lake and work northward back toward Incline Village. There is a fairly steep climb to start, roughly 4 miles long, but riders can take their time. Once to the top at Marlette Lake, it’s a fairly level ride until the descent into the Incline area. It does get very narrow at times and riders are encouraged to take caution. While it will take a bit longer, hikers can also walk the first part to Marlette Lake and to the Lake Tahoe view portion of this incredible trail. There are mountain biking outfits, too, for riders to use if they want to rent bikes and get dropped off.
Sand Harbor and East Shore Rocks – While the entire Lake Tahoe shoreline is absolutely stunning, some say the eastern portion is the best to spend a sunny afternoon. The huge granite boulders lying on top of one another and adjacent to each other not only create a natural wonder of their own, but the results are some of the best swimming holes known on the planet. While the rock jumping and underwater exploring are unbelievable, caution is advised. Water does obscure depth perception, so be careful. The parking along the east shore can be tough, too, as there is not much room on the shoulder of Highway 28 (a National Scenic Byway). Sand Harbor State Park offers an easy place to pull in and park the car. The sandy beaches also provide a nice place to set up camp for the day and from there the family can explore the nearby area. A day use fee is required and it does get crowded, so go early if possible – especially on a weekend. (Also, of interest might be the Shakespeare Festival that is held at Sand Harbor during specific summer evenings. It is definitely one of the best outdoor venues in the country.)
Truckee River Rafting – While not technically on the north shore, the beauty of the Truckee River and the slow-moving current make it ideal for a great family outing. Plus, Tahoe City is just an easy 30 minute drive away, which qualifies it still as a perfect north shore activity. The trip goes from Tahoe City to River Ranch at the entrance to Alpine Meadows. Visitors can take their own raft or rent through one the many rafting companies set up at the “Y” in Tahoe City (just down from Fanny Bridge). The easy-going river is excellent for families of all ages and there are plenty of spots along the way to swim and stop for lunch. Most swim as they float down river. A nice little rapid at the end provides the perfect little excitement to wake rafters back up for a nice cold beverage and appetizer at River Ranch.
Northstar-at-Tahoe – Many don’t realize that this popular ski resort in fact is open during the summer. Several lifts and the gondola actually run during the day to take mountain bike riders to the top so they can use the steep terrain for a little two-wheel, off-road fun. Hikers are also encouraged to come out and enjoy the many trails the 2400-acre resort has the offer. There is also horse-back riding at Northstar and a very quaint village at the base of the ski slope that offers the perfect lunch and shopping venue.
Spooner Lake Loop Trail – Situated at the junction of Highway 28 and US Highway 50, this little alpine lake is sort of a little secret beauty. While the place may look crowded upon arrival, most are heading up to Marlette Lake and the Flume Trail to hike and mountain bike (another good idea by the way!). There is a day use fee as Spooner sits inside the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, but it’s well worth it as the easy 2-mile hike around the lake is a perfect morning or afternoon activity. It is also a popular birdwatching area as it is frequented by osprey, woodpeckers, owls, and other avian wildlife.
Mt. Rose Meadows – Most simply pass right on by the Mt. Rose Meadows on their way to Incline Village or Reno on Highway 431. This high-alpine meadow and surrounding hills, however, provide quite an exhilarating hiking and biking experience. While there is an official Mt. Rose Trail that connects with the Tahoe Rim Trail, there are a plethora of hiking trails that criss-cross the entire area offering vistas that take in the entire Tahoe Basin or Washoe Valley. Visitors can park at the snowpark area or along the highway itself. Cars – and street cyclists – do move fast on the highway, though, so if parking along the road watch those car doors, your young kids, and pets.
Ski, Incline, Burnt Cedar Beaches – These are the three spots that make up the Incline Village General Improvement beaches. Visitors need a valid IVGID Recreation pass, so they are not technically open to the public. Passes to all the beaches, however, are included in rental properties in Incline Village, so entry is allowed with a daily use fee. Ski Beach contains a boat launching facility and a volleyball court. Incline Beach has a nice play area for the kids, a snack bar, and a roped off swimming area. Burnt Cedar has a roped off swimming area, sandy cove, and a jetty to walk out on. It also contains a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub. A playground and a snack bar are also at Burnt Cedar. All beaches have picnic facilities, places to barbecue, and nice grassy areas to relax on.
The picturesque Sierra Nevada topography is reason enough to spend a vacation in Lake Tahoe. Anything else that is done while basking in the region’s natural allure is simply added bonus. But, the truth is, there are many great places to see and fantastic things to do if one does just happen to get a little burnt out on the other less adventurous activities.
There are plenty of other activities and places to go while on the north shore of Lake Tahoe (casinos, golf courses, mini golf, sailboat rides, paddle boats, mackinaw fishing). Please consult your Goldfish Properties @ Lake Tahoe welcome packet for more ideas and information. Or give us a call at (800) 948-7311.