Lake Tahoe Outdoors

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Lake Tahoe Outdoors
Get outdoors and enjoy all that this natural wonderland has to offer. Breathe in clear mountain air and soak up rewarding vistas. From hiking and biking to rock climbing and kayaking, there's plenty to keep you occupied.
By Vanessa Petersen, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Vanessa Petersen
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    Rock Climbing
    For those who love scaling granite, Lake Tahoe offers a variety of climbs for every level and a terrain for every season. Donner Summit is a favorite with 330 known routes. Lovers' Leap (near the town of Strawberry) is popular, with many horizontal dikes to help climbers on their way. Sugarloaf (near the town of Kyburz) has climbs reminiscent of Yosemite's. Tahoe Adventure Company tailors guided classes and private climbs. In Truckee, In Stone has rock-climbing instruction and guides to take you on climbs. MAS Rock Climbing School holds seminars for you to learn and hone skills.
    Photo by Vanessa Petersen
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    Horseback Riding
    Explorers and pioneers once saddled up and rode into the wild of the Sierra, and horseback riding remains popular today. There are stables and corrals around the lake offering guests the chance to hit the mountain trails. Camp Richardson Corral leads riders on scenic trails to Fallen Leaf Lake, has pony rides for children, and offers steak-dinner rides. Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center (open during summer) has trail rides through mountain meadows and Sierra forest, a horseback-riding day camp, and Saturday night barbecues. For groups of ten or more, Zephyr Cove Resort Stables will arrange a guided trail ride followed by a catered picnic. Sheridan Creek Equestrian Center allows experienced riders the chance to blaze their own trail.
    Photo courtesy of Tahoe Donner
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    Dining and Wine Tasting With a View
    The views of Lake Tahoe are meant to be lingered over, causing locals and visitors alike to pause and take in the changing blue waters, the shifting sky, and sunsets in a kaleidoscope of colors. In the warmer months, outdoor patios open up for people to settle in with a glass of wine and a meal while watching the color show of a Sierra sunset. Restaurants such as Christy Hill, West Shore Cafe, and Riva Grill offer the perfect Tahoe lakeside scenery to accompany local food and refreshing beverages. In the winter, these lakeside cafes offer snowy tree-lined lake vistas behind the warmth of tall glass windows.
    Photo by Vanessa Petersen
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    Kayaking, Canoeing, and Paddleboarding
    Kayaking and paddleboarding allow you a more personal interaction with the lake without the noise of engines; canoeing is a fun alternative for friends and family paddling together. There are places near most beaches and marinas to rent equipment. For a unique water tour, Tahoe Adventure Company offers kayaking trips to historic Thunderbird Lodge, as well as stargazing and full-moon tours. Tahoe City Kayak offers paddleboard clinics and various tours including a special Independence Day fireworks outing. Tahoe Eco Sports leads winter kayak tours in wet suits to Crystal Bay in search of hot springs, bald eagles, and winter wilderness.
    Photo courtesy of Andreas Hub/Visit California
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    Abundant Fishing
    Lake Tahoe is open all year for fishing, with fly-fishing on Truckee River in spring through fall. The waters of Lake Tahoe are teeming with all sorts of fish: Mackinaw Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, Brook Trout, and Kokanee Salmon are some species that anglers catch. You must have a fishing license for each state fished; they can be bought for the season or just for the day at any sporting goods, hardware, or grocery store. It is wise to pick up a regulation book to avoid unwanted fines, and mind regulations for tributaries. Charter fishing boats and guides are available for those who want to troll the depths of the lake.
    Photo by Bill Stevenson/age fotostock
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    Road Cycling and Mountain Biking
    Tahoe has a trail or road for every biking enthusiast. For level paved trails for the whole family, Tahoe City has options including a path following the Truckee River to Squaw Valley. To the south, Pope-Baldwin Bike Path meanders through beaches, passing Tallac Historic Site and Camp Richardson. Beginning road cyclists enjoy the section between Tahoma and Tahoe City. Serious and experienced road cyclists can take the 72-mile trip circling the lake, or the Truckee loop (around 37 miles). Tahoe also has numerous trails for mountain bikers: from beginners' rides to Fallen Leaf Lake to advanced rides such as "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" from Luther Pass.
    Photo courtesy of Northstar California Resort
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    Golfing Tahoe
    Tahoe has plenty of golf courses in gorgeous surrounds. For top-rated courses known for championship games and brilliant design, look to Edgewood, Incline Village Championship Course, Old Brockway, Incline Village Mountain Course, and Old Greenwood. Golfers love Coyote Moon Golf Course because it's the only one in Truckee/North Tahoe that does not have a single home built on it. Catering to all experience levels, Tahoe Donner and Tahoe Paradise offer lessons for those who want to give golf a try or bring the kids for lessons. Beginner golfers will enjoy the relaxed setting of Tahoe City Golf Course and Bijou Municipal Golf Course.
    Photo courtesy of Coyote Moon Golf Course
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    Hiking for All Experience Levels
    Each summer, the mountains and valleys of Lake Tahoe come to life with wildflowers and songbirds. When the snows have melted, ski resorts like Kirkwood, Squaw, Northstar, and Heavenly open their trails to hikers. Tahoe Rim Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail are both suitable for day hikes and multi-day backpacking by experienced teams. Desolation Wilderness is another option for a few days of backpacking or a long day hike past smaller lakes and even up to Mount Tallac (register for free permits at the trailhead). More great views can be seen from the trails on Mount Rose. Gentle hikes include the Dolder Nature Trail and D.L. Bliss/Emerald Bay trails.
    Photo by Vanessa Petersen
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    Guided Sailing and River Rafting
    Lake Tahoe's water is known for its clarity, depth, and beauty. There are sailing cruises that depart from every corner of the lake. In Incline Village, Action Water Sports takes passengers aboard their 55-foot sailing yacht to experience the northeastern shores. Tahoe Sailing Charters leave the Tahoe City Marina to cruise the west shore. The numerous cruises around South Lake Tahoe even include the option to ride a Mississippi paddlewheeler. For the excitement of white water and fast rivers, IRIE Rafting Company will guide you down the lower Truckee Gorge. For gentle self-guided options, Truckee River Rafting lends their experience for a leisurely float. Reservations may be limited pending drought conditions.
    Photo courtesy of Action Water Sports of Incline Village
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    Outdoor Concerts and Summer Festivals
    End an exhilarating Tahoe day or begin a lively Tahoe night with a summer concert. From big-name bands at the outdoor arena at Harveys' in South Lake to free weekly concerts along the north shore, there is a concert venue for every ear along one of Tahoe's shores. Squaw Valley sings the blues every Tuesday in July and August, with free blues concerts and blue-plate food and drink specials. Each summer Sunday, Tahoe City hosts free concerts at Commons Beach. Incline Village hosts a classical orchestra series at their Classical Tahoe concerts. But there's more than music at Tahoe: The Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor is some of Tahoe's best-loved summer entertainment.
    Photo courtesy of Matt Palmer/Squaw Valley