The Ultimate Adventure Guide for South Lake Tahoe

From the lake and trails to mountains and beaches, South Lake Tahoe gives visitors many options when it comes to outdoor adventures. Year round you can find something to do here—all you have to do is make the trip.

Summer

lake tahoe supWater: SUPing and Kayaking
The lake offers a perfect landscape for still-water stand up paddleboarding (SUP). If you choose to kayak, you can traverse the perimeter of Lake Tahoe or you can venture down the Truckee River or one of its many tributaries and streams, where you will see a variety of birds, and if you are a lucky, a beaver or two. You can even fish from your kayak out on the vast Lake Tahoe if that’s more your style.

Mountain Biking in Lake Tahoe, CaliforniaTrails: Hiking and Mountain Biking
South Lake Tahoe has many trails perfectly suited for biking or hiking. From mild to extreme conditions, you can find any trail to suit your desires, whether that involves drastic elevation gains or slow, meandering flats.

If you’re walking, the Tahoe Rim Trail offers serene views of the water, while the Glen Alpine Trail takes you through picturesque meadows and forest. For bikers, the Flume Trail and Mr. Toad’s wild ride offer thrilling views and challenging courses; and Kirkwood, one of the area’s best ski resorts, provides more gentle trails for beginners.

Shore: Fishing and Sunbathing
If the shoreline is more your speed and/or your idea of an adventure involves peace and quiet, Lake Tahoe offers 72 miles of shoreline. One of the prettiest beaches is Emerald Bay, and you can take your dog to Kiva Beach or one of Tahoe’s many other dog-friendly beaches. You can also fish along the lake, river, or stream shores, or you can venture onto the lake to catch a huge, healthy, and edible Brown Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Lake Trout, and Rainbow Trout.

Do keep in mind, though, that if you bring your own boat, the local environmental enforcement is very strict regarding invasive species, so thoroughly clean your hull and take your boat for inspection prior to entering the water.

The only hazard you really have to watch out for is bears, which have been known to even enter the water.

Winter

Surrounded by mountains, South Lake Tahoe (SLT) offers an array of snow-related activities from late fall to early spring. After several years of a late beginning and early ending to the season’s snowfall, this last year dumped a record amount—well over 350 inches. Locals have a theory that it’s dry for three years and then it snows for three years, so the next several years of snowfall should prove to be at least functional, if not incredible.

Lake Tahoe skiingHills: Snowboarding and Skiing
From Heavenly and Sierra to Kirkwood and Squaw, South Tahoe’s peaks offer visitors and locals a wide range of mountain trails to choose from, boasting gentle bunny slopes, intermediate rides, and advanced, heart-stopping declines.

Sierra is the first resort you will pass coming into town; it’s lower in elevation, so the snowpack usually comes late and ends earlier. Right in the heart of town, Heavenly has three entrances, the California side, the Gondola (on Stateline), and the Nevada side, giving you plenty of options to shoosh down. To the northwest is Squaw, which boasts some of the more challenging declines in the area, and Sugar Bowl, just past Squaw is more appropriate for beginner to intermediate riders.

Kirkwood is a hidden gem right to the Southeast of SLT, with smaller crowds and trails for any level, though the wind can pick up there quite frequently, causing a total lift shutdown, and it takes longer to clear the roads after a big snowfall. There are also countless places that rent ski and boarding equipment, and if you want to buy, you can bring your gear or purchase it at Tahoe Sports Ltd. In Heavenly Village.

lake tahoe snowshoeFlats: Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing
Just about the only ways to get around during Tahoe’s winter, snowshoeing and cross country skiing allow the adventurous to explore the region that would otherwise be impossible to traverse. Tromping on top of 200 inches of snow is not only challenging and laborious, but it is also dangerous, risking snow suffocation by falling into tree wells or falling through snow bridges into water or other hazards. Skis and snow shoes give you a leg up in what would otherwise be impossible terrain.

Whatever your winter adrenaline shot of choice, SLT is the place to go, assuming the roads aren’t washed out and you are willing to battle the crowds.