While locals rarely make the effort, driving around Lake Tahoe is an awesome way to experience the true breadth and beauty of our favorite lake. It often takes a friend who has never seen the lake to make this journey happen, and such was fortunately the case for me recently.
While the drive around Lake Tahoe can be completed in a leisurely two and a half hours, we decided to make a day of it. We began in Tahoe City and drove clockwise so the lake would always be by our side instead of across a lane of traffic. After rolling through Incline Village, we took our first break along the east shore, taking the short hike down to the lovely and secluded beaches that are only accessible via foot. Unlike mid summer when parking is at a premium, this time of year the shoreline was practically empty, but just as spectacular. Stark white granite boulders emerge from the lime green waters close to shore and the deep blue waters further out set off the spark of the mountains behind. After stretching our legs, we made our way towards the south shore, rolling through Cave Rock. We noted how impressive the high mountains of the est shore looked when seen from the other side of the lake. We picked up some healthy take out lunch fare from Sprouts, and enjoyed a lakeside picnic at Kiva Beach on the edge of Taylor Creek.
The kokanee are spawning at Taylor Creek and the bears are hanging out and waiting for the salmon buffet to arrive. We walked the Rainbow Trail through the Taylor Creek marsh and spent time at the Profile Chamber seeing the kokanee up close and personal, while listening to a ranger regale us with the spawning habits of these fascinating creatures. Next stop, the trail to Fallen Leaf Lake, just across the highway and up the road a piece. Here a lovely short trail passes monstrous incense cedars along Taylor Creek before reaching the southern tip of the lake, which is bordered by deep forest and high mountains.
Now, with the sun dropping we continued on to Emerald Bay, no time for a jaunt down to Vikingsholm on this trip, but a quick stop for a view is always needed. It was a day well spent, and another reminder of how incredibly lucky we are to live here.