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 are 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 shut down, 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 snow­shoes 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.