Lake Tahoe

  • A Karen Brown Recommendation

Follow the Truckee River to its source, Lake Tahoe. Tucked in a high valley, Lake Tahoe is a vast, blue, icy-cold lake ringed by pine forests and backed by high mountains. The lake has about 70 miles of shoreline, a maximum depth of 1,645 feet, and a summer temperature of about 65 degrees. When people from the San Francisco Bay Area say they are “going to the mountains,” Tahoe is usually where they’re heading. While certain enclaves have their share of hot dog stands, McDonald’s restaurants, and glitzy gambling casinos, there are many unspoilt areas where you can enjoy the exquisite beauty of the lake and its surrounding stunning scenery. For bikers and joggers, a marvelous, seemingly endless trail traces a path along the lakefront and down the Truckee River. Tahoe City combines rustic, folksy shops, restaurants, and everyday stores with two quite interesting tourist attractions: Fanny Bridge and the Gatekeeper’s Cabin. Fanny Bridge is very close: just turn right at the supermarket, and there it is. You will see immediately the derivation of “Fanny” when you see the tourists leaning over the railing to watch the trout gobble up the food tossed to them. On the same side of the bridge where the fish feed, outlet gates are opened and shut to control the level of the lake—the entire flow of water exiting from Lake Tahoe is regulated here as the water runs into the Truckee River. The other attraction of Tahoe City, the Gatekeeper’s Cabin, sits on the bank of the Truckee. The rustic old cabin, once home to the man who controlled the river level, is now an attractive small museum operated by the local historical society. Hugging the shoreline, Hwy 89 opens up to ever-more-lovely vistas as the road travels south. Nine miles south of Tahoe City brings you to Sugar Pine State Park with its many miles of hiking trails, and camping and picnic sites. In summer you can tour the nicely furnished Ehrman Mansion, once the vast lakeside summer home of a wealthy San Francisco family. You will know by the sheer beauty of your surroundings when you are at Emerald Bay. The road sits hundreds of feet above a sparkling, blue-green bay and miles of Lake Tahoe stretch beyond its entrance. Center stage is a small wooded island crowned by a stone teahouse. A 1½-mile trail winds down to the lake—it seems a lot farther walking up—and in summer you can tour Vikingsholm, the 38-room lakeside mansion built in 1929 and patterned after a 9th-century Norse fortress. It is the finest example of Scandinavian architecture in America and is filled with Norwegian furniture. ( Just below Emerald Bay a trail leads from the parking lot up a ¼-mile steep trail to a bridge above the cascading cataract of Eagle Falls, which offers fantastic views of Lake Tahoe. A mile farther up the trail is Eagle Lake, in an isolated, picture-perfect setting.

Lake Tahoe
Tahoe City, California

Tahoe City, California
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