Summer in Tahoe

An archive of blog posts on things to see and do in Lake Tahoe. Book with Hauserman Rental Group today for the perfect getaway!

by Tim Hauserman 

I’ve been anticipating this date for weeks, perhaps even months. Sure July and August are always fun with a steady series of events such as the Concerts on The Commons and Truckee Thursday, but the middle of summer is also crowded. The kids are out of school so everyone heads away from the heat of the Bay Area and Sacramento to enjoy some much needed R and R at Lake Tahoe.

The crowds peak at the end of July and then very slowly start to dwindle as school district after school district snatches another group of kids back from the lake (I’m sure the kids are kicking and screaming as they get dragged away…”Wait, just one more swim!”)  The crowds briefly return for the summer crescendo over Labor Day…but then the day after Labor Day, that’s what we have all been waiting for. The beginning of Local’s Summer. Today!

We set out to celebrate the joys of September 4th by heading out onto the lake in my wood canoe. We arrived at Tahoe Park Beach at 8:45 am. There were no other people on the beach. The lake was as still as a pane of glass. There were no boat wakes. There were only a few other folks in kayaks and on paddleboards. It was peacefully quiet. We all had ginormous shit grins on our faces, and felt like Flounder in Animal House, “This is going to be great!”

We paddled from Tahoe Park to the dam above Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City. Aside from a few very talented water skiers who had also been waiting for this day all summer, it was just us silent paddlers, a few quiet folks on docks, and some squawking ducks. Even the haze from the smoke partially obscuring the mountains couldn’t deter our joy in being lucky enough to be here now. We knew we had hit the jack pot. Had made it to the other side of summer, and we were stoked! 

Nice weather, small crowds, beautiful lake. Hopefully there are a few more months of all of this before the snow flies and the crowds return. 

By Tim Hauserman

As August comes to an end it’s easy to bemoan the loss of summer. The mornings are getting chilly, and our thoughts start to turn to the the colder days of autumn.  But put away that sad face, often September is the best month of the year. The weather is usually warm and dry. The bike riding, kayaking and boating are still available for the taking. And the best part is that while Tahoe is certainly not dead, there is now plenty of room to roam, the traffic headaches are gone, and the locals have big smiles on their faces because they’ve been waiting anxiously for the crowds to disappear in September since mid-July.

Now you can paddleboard at 9 am and not have to face all those boat wakes. You can go for a mountain bike ride with less dust. Ride your bike on the roads with fewer cars. Go backpacking in Desolation Wilderness and be able to find a quiet campsite.  Even go out to breakfast or dinner without having to worry about long lines. 

Later in September the leaves start to turn which makes for a whole new set of hiking and biking opportunities. Page Meadows, Marlette Lake, Ward and Blackwood Canyons, and Ophir Creek are some of my favorite leaf peeping places. And don’t miss the Kokanee salmon spawning at Taylor Creek, which happens from late September into early October. 

While September weather is most likely glorious, it is a bit less dependable then July. Keep your eye on the forecast and the hourly temperature readings. The days are shorter, the mornings are colder, and sometimes little storm fronts come rolling through and dump a good dousing of rain. Take that day off and enjoy the much needed wet stuff laying down the dust, then head out onto the freshly packed trails and enjoy. 

One of my favorite September activities is to go to the shore of the lake, look out over the still calm waters, breathe deep and enjoy that elusive sense that you don’t find often in the middle of the summer: quiet stillness. Ahh…

 

By Tim Hauserman

These days every summer morning you will see paddleboards and kayaks paddling along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake. These light weight craft give folks the chance to get exercise while enjoying the beauty of our Sierra lakes. In the old days, bulkier wood or metal canoes were the preferred method of paddling from place to place, now they are a rare sighting. But canoes are not just vestiges from a bygone age, they can still be a fun way to get out on the lake today. Especially if an overnight trip is your goal. 

My parents owned an Old Town canoe that was rode hard and brought home wet by a whole host of Hauserman kids and grandkids for over 30 years. A few years ago when I acquired the old girl, I christened her Sheila, and arranged for her much needed make over. Now, she is looking good and ready for action. In June, she took us on an epic Tahoe adventure: We paddled from Bliss State Park to the Emerald Bay boat campground and spent the night.

The early morning paddle from Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay is an amazing journey. The entire four miles of lakeshore is state park land and devoid of structures and roads. It looks pretty much the way it did 100 years ago (I guess, contrary to the opinions of my kids, I was not around back then). As we made our way in and out of the little rocky coves we saw several eagles and an osprey, but since we left really early we didn’t see many boats. 

We passed the boat campground by mid-morning and kept going to the beach in front of Vikingsholm for our picnic lunch, before returning to the campground to set up camp. The process was quite simple, pull the boat onto the grass at the edge of the lake and carry our dry sacks full of gear up to our camp site. Most of the folks spending the night arrived via kayak. We did notice that those who arrived by motor boat tended to bring a lot more gear, I guess because they had plenty of room to do so. While they might have been more comfortable in camp, they worked up an appetite with all those trips back to the dock. 

Once we had our camp set up, is when it got really good. While Emerald Bay is a crowded place in the summer, as the day began to wane, most of the folks left, and then the bay was a peaceful place. 

Early the next morning, we glided over the glassy lake surface to loop around Fannette Island, before heading back to Bliss State Park. Then we spent a beautiful morning enjoying one of Tahoe’s best beaches. Can’t wait to do it again. 

by Tim Hauserman

Want to get a good look at what is going on at Lake Tahoe without leaving the comfort of your home? Check out one of these webcams online, including Hauserman Rental Groups very own webcam.

The Hauserman Rental Group webcam is located right above HRG’s office in The Cobblestone. It gives a great view of downtown Tahoe City. It answers these all important questions: What is the traffic and weather like in Tahoe City, and can I find a parking spot in The Cobblestone?  Hopefully in about five months you can look and find snow falling.

https://www.enjoytahoe.com/about-us/webcam/

The folks at tahoetopia.com have installed a host of other webcams around Tahoe. Here are a few fun ones to check out:

Heading to the Beach?

Commons Beach: Their newest webcam shows Commons Beach. Check it out this summer to see the crowd at the Sunday Concerts on the Beach, or Wednesday movie night, or just to see whether it is windy or time to jump in your kayak.

North Tahoe Event Center: Check out the sandy front of Kings Beach. Locate your spot on the sand then high tail it to the beach.

How’s the water looking:

Sunnyside Lodge: Head to this west shore hot spot to see whether the wind is better for sailing or paddleboarding. And just looking at those umbrellas on the deck will start your imagination heading towards Fish Tacos.

Tahoe City Marina: What’s it look like in the marina? This is a good one to see if thunderstorms or snow storms are rolling in.

Traffic:

Tahoe City Y: Get the latest on traffic coming into Tahoe City, as well as what is happening with the Fanny Bridge construction project.

Downtown Truckee: This is the one to go to to see how busy Truckee looks, or watch the goings on during Truckee Thursday.

Truckee Tahoe Airport Cam: It might not be car traffic, but why not check out the air traffic coming and going from the local airport.

Biking and Nordic Skiing, Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area

To see how the bike and cross country ski trails are looking, go to tahoexc.org.

By Tim Hauserman

Here in the Sierra Nevada, Mother Nature knows that seasons can be fickle and short so she doesn’t mess around. Instead she gets right to doing what nature does best…producing off-spring, especially the plant variety. Even before the last flake of snow has fallen the melting cycle is in full swing. While the creeks are roaring with all that melted snow, the wildflowers are already popping up along the creek edges, eager to attract the bees and produce the seeds that will mean more wildflowers the next year. High elevation plants know that if you get it done fast, you will not have to worry about the early season snow wiping out a year’s crop.

Watching Page Meadows go through the cycle is a prime example of how fast the process goes. In the middle of June I approached Page Meadows and there were still lots of standing water with patches of snow still in the shady forest. The edges were starting to sprout flowers, but I skipped a ride through it because it would have been a muddy and buggy slog. A month later, I rode through and the trails were dry as a bone, in some places the flowers had come and were already going to seed, and the early signs of mid-summer were starting to appear: Grasshoppers.

The aspen tree leaves in the meadow are still a deep, dark green, and the grass remains green and vibrant. But before you know it, the grass will start to dull and turn brown, the yellow jackets will make a very unpopular reappearance, and the number of grass hoppers will explode. When they do, a bike ride through the meadows sets off a wave of flying creatures in your wake.

It will still be awhile before the first leaves begin to turn as the nights get colder. Fall conditions can last anywhere from a few weeks before the first snows arrive in October or cruise right on into November before the white stuff finally flies. Whenever winter comes, it puts the meadow asleep again for several months under a blanket of white…but wait, we are not there yet. Now is the time to enjoy the warmth, the green grass and the blue sky…but carpe diem, because nature doesn’t fool around in the Sierra.

by Tim Hauserman

It’s that time of year when Tahoe’s hiking trails start attracting hordes of happy hikers checking out the wildflowers and sparkling mountain lakes. One of those hiking trails is the Pacific Crest Trail which on it’s 2600 mile journey between Mexico and Canada passes about ten miles west of Lake Tahoe along the Pacific Crest. In fact, between Carson Pass to the south, and Donner Pass in the north, the PCT is very much a part of the fabric of our natural surroundings. And right now, after over 1000 miles of hiking from Mexico, a steady stream of PCT thru-hikers are walking through the Tahoe region in route to Canada.

If you are out on the PCT over the next few weeks you are bound to see the long distance hikers passing through. While they are all unique and come from a wide variety of backgrounds these long distance hikers do have a few things in common: First, they walk fast and smooth, as if they floating above the ground. They also most likely have lighter packs then us shorter distance backpackers, and most importantly, they are obviously very determined and focused.

Over the last week, I spent a few days on the PCT and encountered perhaps 25 thru-hikers. Many seem to be more covered from head to toe, even in the heat, wearing lightweight long pants and long sleeved shirts, and often some sort of large hat. I did speak to one long distance hiker who said that the reason for this is that she doesn’t want to put on sunscreen, because it attracts dirt. And as you can imagine when you are hiking for months at a time…you do attract plenty of dirt. Of course, this leads to another indication of a long distance hiker, by the time they finish the trip, they may want to burn their clothing, because the smell of all those miles may never come out.

Above all, thru-hikers are focused on adding up the miles. Take 2600 miles and divide it by 20 and you come up with 130 days. That means that if you can carry your backpack and make 20 miles per day on average, including zero days, and time spent resupplying…it will still take you 130 days or 4 and a half months to make the journey. I’ve backpacked quite a bit, and don’t remember doing 20 miles in a day with a big pack on my back, let alone averaging it for a whole trip. But many of these hikers do that. They do it by getting up early in the morning, steadily hiking all day, and being very efficient with their time.

So these hikers are focused, and may not want to take the time to stop and chat, but if you do get the opportunity, it always make for an interesting conversation. You will most likely learn a lot about hiking, but perhaps even more importantly, you will learn about perseverance. This hike is an absolutely amazing athletic feat.  They have already walked a thousand miles, and are bound and determined to make it another 1600 miles. Now that is perseverance.

By Tim Hauserman 

My bike cut its way down the steep switchbacks then rolled swiftly through the thick manzanita to the spectacular viewpoint above Lake Tahoe. To my left sat a row of houses, perched on top of the hill, below lay a thick mantle of low lying brush, and further down, a dense forest of trees.  Past the trees, a view of much of Tahoe’s west shore with snow capped Mt. Tallac serving as a centerpiece. This spot is now one of my favorite places to get off my bike and take in Tahoe’s grandeur.  Eleven years earlier on a windy summer day, a fire roared up this hill and nearly took out hundreds of home just a mile as the crow flies from Tahoe City. 

On August 18th, 2007 I was given the rare opportunity to crew for my brother Dan Hauserman on his sailboat in the Wednesday night sailing races. It was an extremely windy day and as we set sail from Lake Forest towards Homewood for the race, we saw a thick, dark cloud of smoke coming from the west shore. Just two months earlier, The Angora Fire had burned over 250 homes on Tahoe’s south shore, so the spectacle was particularly terrifying.  

At first we couldn’t tell exactly where the fire was and where it was going. My thoughts were with my teenage daughter home alone in Ward Canyon, another daughter at work in Tahoe City and my wife who was holding an open house at a cabin in Tahoe Park, just a half mile from where the fire started. Where was the fire going and were any of them in danger?

We could see bright flashes of wind driven flames, as we struggled to keep the boat flat in the relentless gale. A helicopter arrived dumping water, and we began pleading to the sky: “More planes, bigger planes…and while you are at it, rain and less wind!”  Once we had sailed to just a 1/2 mile off shore of the fire it was still hard to determine exactly where the fire was, but we could see the wind was driving it towards Tahoe City, and that hundreds of homes were in its path.

We reached Homewood about the time we learned the sailboat race had been cancelled since Highway 89 was closed for the fire. As we sailed our way back our eyes were glued to the fire, unable to tell whether it was getting worse or the firefighters were slowly getting a handle on it. That night, I stayed with my daughter in Tahoe City while we waited for the road to open so we could get to our home on the west shore. We realized there was nothing we could do, except hope. 

The fire started when high winds reignited a charcoal BBQ on Washoe Way along the edge of Tahoe Park. The fire burned several houses on Washoe Way before racing up the hill through thick forest to burn three houses on the edge of Tahoe Woods Blvd. It then continued into the forest adjacent to the development. Fortunately, that forest that had been extensively thinned to reduce fire danger just the year before, which slowed the fire down so that fire fighters were able to get it under control.

Over the next few years, the burned trees were removed, and manzanita and other quick growing bushes grew where the trees had been. New homes replaced those that were burned, and a new trail appeared which headed from where the pavement ended on Tahoe Woods Blvd, past the new lake view where my bike and I rested, and then ascended to Page Meadows.

To the casual observer who doesn’t know the history, where the fire occurred just looks like a hillside slope with brush instead of trees, and a place where several new homes have been built in the last eleven years. For those who know the story, it’s a reminder of the terror that can be caused by a forest fire, of the reason why the forests are managed to reduce fire danger, and by the power of the land to recover and recreate itself. 

By Tim Hauserman 

Recently I was hiking along the Tahoe Rim Trail out of Tahoe City when I came upon a group of seven guys on mountain bikes. They all had identical bikes so I assumed that a) they were members of the racing team for a bike manufacturer, or b) they rented them from a bike shop. After watching them ride and talking to several about their less than stellar biking experience I guessed the latter. This section of the TRT is a pretty challenging ride for inexperienced riders, with lots of little rocks and twists and turns. These guys were not having fun, which gave me the idea to write this post. 

Tahoe is loaded with awesome recreational opportunities. And there is certainly a go have fun and push the envelope sports atmosphere here whether it is jumping off cliffs skiing in the winter or mountain biking down the gnarliest trail in the summer.  But in the words of Sergeant Jablonski on Hill Street Blues it’s important to remember:  “Let’s be careful out there.”

For most of us, it’s really about going out and having fun, not trying to keep up with the images you see on a Red Bull Video. So be sure and embark on a Tahoe adventure that’s well suited to your actual ability level, which might be different than your in your dreams ability level.

Before heading out, seek information and find out what a trail or a sport is really like. If it’s a challenging mountain bike trail and you have never ridden before, it’s the same as a beginning skier taking on a double black diamond ski trail. Find a trail that is suited to your ability…you will have a lot more fun. Finding information might require more then just asking someone you see riding by with a really nice bike. Remember, to a super strong rider what they call an easy trail, to you might be a scary adventure. While not usually intentional, the biggest lie heard in Tahoe is: “That trail, no, it’s not that difficult.” 

The same goes for going out on a hike. I’ve found myself a number of times hiking out of Desolation Wilderness in the late afternoon scratching my head when I see folks with almost no water, the wrong clothing, looking tired and wondering where the lake is (three more miles and 1000 feet of climbing…and it’s dark in two hours…and you have on a T-shirt). 

The same holds true for kayaking, paddleboarding, motor boating, road bike riding and any other activity you might participate in at Lake Tahoe. Being careful out there begins with having correct information on the difficulty with the task ahead, and being honest with yourself about your true abilities. That is how to make your Tahoe outdoor experience a great one. 

By Tim Hauserman 

The Memorial Day weekend is a great time to be at Tahoe. It’s not crazy busy like 4th of July, it’s more of a holiday that looks you right in the face and says…holy cow… summer is coming. Well, hopefully it is a reminder that summer is coming. Sometimes the weather is glorious and warm…and then sometimes…it snows. Either way, second home owners come up to brush away the cobwebs and put the patio furniture out. Locals take advantage of the opportunity to go for a bike ride or a hike and enjoy the beginning of summer. And visitors come to Tahoe to herald in the first of hopefully several trips up to the lake. 

Looking for a fun event to attend over Memorial Day? Here are two ideas: 

Tahoe Cross Country Parking Lot Sale, May 26, 9 am to 3 pm

For some Memorial Day is all about the garage sales. Remember those second home owners cleaning out their houses for the summer I talked about earlier? Well they throw away some of it, and decide to sell the rest. And perhaps what they consider expendable you might think is just what you are looking for. Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area and The Highlands neighborhood is trying something different. They are putting together a real hum dinger of a neighborhood sale in the Tahoe XC parking lot (925 Country Club Drive, Tahoe City). 

Highlands Homeowners Association President Ray Garner says that residents are encouraged to bring their barbecues and refreshments to make it a fun, block party like event. 

Once you’ve picked up some great bargains and socialized with some new friends, you can ride your mountain bike or take a hike on the trails at Tahoe XC. They leave right from the parking lot and head out over miles of forest and through wildflower dotted meadows. You can even climb up the Lakeview Trail, which perhaps you can imagine provides a nice view.  Trails should be perfect by May 26th. 

Made in Tahoe Festival. May 26-27th 11 am to 7 pm. 

The Village at Squaw Valley will be packed with artists, businesses, food and entertainment as this festival honors all things Lake Tahoe/Truckee. It’s a great opportunity to gather and appreciate what an amazingly creative and entertaining group of people call Tahoe home. Entertainment on the three stages includes local bands and dance groups. And then of course there will be lots of awesome people watching. Enjoy!