8 outdoor adventures off Lake Tahoe
I know, I know, Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places to visit in America, and here I am telling you what to do away from it. But go to Lake Tahoe one weekend summer afternoon, like Fourth of July weekend, and you’ll see why one of the most beautiful places can also be one of the busiest. But while Lake Tahoe is beautiful, if you visited and only spent your time on the lake, you’d be missing some of the amazing places and things to do around Lake Tahoe that are just beyond it. Learn about a few of my favorite adventures off Lake Tahoe below.
8 Outdoor Adventures off Lake Tahoe
Camp at other nearby lakes
Lake Tahoe isn’t the only lake set to the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. A number of other lakes are convenient to Lake Tahoe, including my personal favorite, Donner Lake, just a few miles north in Truckee. Here, you can camp at Donner Memorial State Park, mere feet from Donner Lake’s shoreline below the shadow of Donner Summit and other peaks surrounding the lake. Just east of Truckee is a series of other lakes, including Stampede Reservoir, which has camping available at Logger Campground.
Float, or raft, the Truckee River
The 121-mile Truckee River, which meanders through Northern California and Nevada, is unique in that it’s the sole outlet of Lake Tahoe. And after a record-breaking winter this year, the Truckee River is flowing like never before. However, rafting on the Truckee River is currently delayed because of river flow, though it's supposed to resume later this month. Alternatively, for a calmer river adventure, buy your own inflatable tube and find a calm section of the Truckee River to float down.
Go rock climbing
Perched above Donner Lake in Truckee are a number of rock faces that are popular among local climbers. If you don’t have your own gear, or aren’t a seasoned climber, Alpine Skills International offers courses and clinics, including a half-day rock climbing session for families. Elsewhere, a popular climbing spot in South Lake Tahoe is Lover’s Leap, featuring hundreds of established rock climbing routes.
Bike the Tahoe Trailways Bike Path
For a low-key, scenic bike ride, bicycle the Tahoe Trailways Bike Path, a North Lake Tahoe paved path system that branches out to three different routes, of which my favorite weaves alongside the Truckee River to Olympic Valley. The other popular path, the West Shore Path, follows the west shore of Lake Tahoe. If you don’t have your own bikes, you can rent them from Olympic Bike Shop in Tahoe City.
Hike, bike or horseback ride the Tahoe Rim Trail
The 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail may just be one of my favorite trails of its length in the entire world. Forming a loop around the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Tahoe Rim Trail is a mash-up of some of Lake Tahoe’s most beautiful landscapes, hikes and overlooks. Plus, it’s accessible from a variety of different trailheads around the lake. Hikers are allowed on the entire trail, with most of the trail also accessible for mountain bikers and horseback riders (with a few exceptions, which you can find on the Tahoe Rim Trail website). Check out the Tahoe Rim Trail Association’s interactive map for water sources, campgrounds, trailheads and other info.
Hike through Desolation Wilderness
Located near South Lake Tahoe, Desolation Wilderness is one of the wildest, most beautiful areas of Northern California, characterized by a 63,960-acre federally protected wilderness area, where both the Tahoe Rim Trail and Pacific Crest Trail pass through. The landscape is stark, serene and wild, as the name presumes, and is dotted with wooded lakes, of which Lake Aloha is the largest, and arguably one of the most beautiful in the area. However, you’ll need a permit at Desolation Wilderness for day use and camping.
Lift-access hiking and mountain biking
You know those blue and black diamond ski runs you shred down in the winter? Well at Northstar California, they become black diamond (and double black) mountain bike trails during the summer at the downhill Northstar Bike Park. Additionally, you can take the Big Springs Gondola mid-mountain to access hiking trails, such as the Sawmill Lake trail, or continue up the Zephyr Lift to access other trails like Lookout Mountain.
Fly in a glider
That’s right, soar over Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains silently in a glider. Flights take off from Soar Truckee, located adjacent to Northstar California, where your glider is towed thousands of feet up before being released above the High Sierra to soar above Lake Tahoe, the Martis Valley and rolling mountains. What's more, you can also take introductory lessons to learn to fly a glider. Bucket list!
I’m an ambassador for Northstar, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.