Get Outside: Getting to Know Lake Tahoe

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Lake Tahoe

Situated high in the Sierra Nevada, this 1,645-foot deep mountain lake straddling the California and Nevada borders is a well-known ski destination, home to such famous resorts as Heavenly, Squaw Valley and Kirkwood. However, once the snow melts, the entire Lake Tahoe region becomes a playground for mountain bikers, trail runners, paddlers and raft floaters.

Getting There: In general, Lake Tahoe is often separated by north and south. North Lake Tahoe can be accessed very easily from the west via either Route 267 or Route 89 off Interstate 80 East. Travelers heading to North Lake Tahoe from Nevada can take either Route 50 from Carson City or Route 431 off Highway 580 South from Reno. South Lake Tahoe is most easily reached via Route 50 out of Sacramento. If you are flying there, you can fly into Sacramento, Reno or the Truckee municipal airport. 

Where to Stay: At more than 22 miles long, there are a number of accommodations of all types. Airbnb offers thousands of houses, condos or cabins for rent as well. In the summer, lake access is key. 

The Sunnyside Lodge in Tahoe City offers reasonable rates and great lake access, while the Ritz-Carlton in Truckee offers luxurious accommodations but requires a bit of a jaunt to the beach. There are also dozens of excellent lakeside campgrounds, including Fallen Leaf Campground in South Lake Tahoe near Lake Valley, picturesque Emerald Bay State Park, or Tahoe State Park in North Lake Tahoe. 

What to Do: Rent a kayak and head out to Fannette Island in the South’s Emerald Bay for gorgeous views and excellent rock diving. Or grab a stand-up paddleboard in King’s Beach and paddle over to Crystal Bay. For uninhibited views all the way to Reno, head out and up on a full-day hike (or ultra-distance trail run) on Mount Rose. 

Rent a mountain bike at Flume Trail Bikes, then hitch a van shuttle to the famous Tahoe Rim Trail for some fat wheel shredding before heading back to the Tunnel Creek Café for some delicious organic eats. 

Try This: Wake up in your room at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort in Incline Village before walking up to nearby I.V. Coffee Lab for your caffeine fix and some oatmeal. Grab your mountain bike and head to King’s Beach for the 14.5-mile Brockway Summit to Mount Baldy out-and-back. Grab a pack lunch in King’s Beach before setting up shop at Sand Harbor Beach. Put down your towel, grab a 99-cent store rubber raft and relax the day away before heading over to the Lone Eagle Grill for dinner and drinks.

Good to Know: Lake Tahoe stands at an elevation of more than 6,200 feet, which means that your body will need time to acclimate. Drink plenty of water, watch your alcohol intake and monitor for signs of altitude sickness (headaches, dizziness, nausea). Keep in mind Lake Tahoe itself is a mountain lake and is therefore very cold. Even in summer its temperature rarely tops out at more than 65 degrees, and in many spots it’s much colder, so brace yourself and enjoy.

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