by Tim Hauserman
One of the true hallmarks of a Tahoe fall is the Kokanee salmon run at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. There you will find diminutive Taylor Creek and the watershed around it packed with color. You can marvel at the yellows and oranges of the aspen and other deciduous trees, while making your short stroll to Taylor Creek which is awash in the bright red of thousands of salmon packing the creek to the gills.
Kokanee salmon spend most of their lives in the relative obscurity of the deeps of Lake Tahoe. They only become a famous attraction in their last days as they struggle up Taylor Creek to lay eggs or impregnate those eggs in that little pile of rocks that they decide is the perfect place. For the viewers, the salmon’s last days, are good days for learning, and marveling at the amazing beauty of throngs of them struggling up this shallow little stream.
Fortunately for us, Taylor Creek is an easy spot to witness the spectacle. Not only are there gentle walking trails right next to the shore of the creek, but several bridges give us a look from up above at the luscious redness. The Forest Service has also created a viewing chamber that allows us to witness some of the fish from a below the water vantage point on an extra channel in the creek they created.
Once you’ve had your fill of gazing at the fish, be sure and enjoy the fall colors, and take a short stroll down to the quiet shore of Lake Tahoe where Taylor Creek makes it’s way to the lake.
In addition to human visitors, other animals come to Taylor Creek not for the viewing, but for the eating. Raccoon and bears both enjoy dining on the pink flesh of a dying salmon. Please, use your common sense and stay far away from any animals you see, and don’t prove your lack of intelligence by trying to get close to the animals and take a selfie. Too many bear/human interactions may lead to shutting off the area to humans to prevent an injury to the bear or humans.
To get there: From North Lake Tahoe. Take Highway 89 South several miles past Emerald Bay to the Taylor Creek Visitor Center road on your left. opposite the Fallen Leaf Lake access road on your right.