Tahoe, CA: Summer at the Lake
Lakes are normally not on the top of my list to swim in and spend a lot of time at. They can be slimy, mossy, eerie, dark, and smelly. Through the almost black water you can never see the bottom and there's normally swarms of bugs all around biting at my ankles. I grew up on the ocean where you can normally see what you are swimming with, fish or no fish, seaweed or no seaweed. I have never been more moved by a lake than I was when I first visited Lake Tahoe in northern California.
The color of the water is Bahamian blue and clear enough to see every rock's detail from above, surrounded by mountains full of dense, dark green pine trees piercing sharply into the bluest sky. I normally stay in my boyfriend's family's old cabin on the west side of the lake, in Meek's Bay. It was built by his grandfather's father and is now shared by all family members during the summer months. The land consists of two cabins, one overlooking the lake with an old wrap around patio. The second is set back further in the woods, also with a patio, as well and an outdoor cabana. Both cabins are very old, have lots of character and have seen decades of family history. The wooden beams have been walked over by growing cousins, newborn nephews and aging grandparents. We never sleep inside, but outside in sleeping bags, on mattresses kept on the balcony under the trees and stars. You fall asleep to the lapping of small ripples from the lake down below and rise early with the sun piercing through the trees.
Every morning after my coffee I take a dip, go paddle boarding or swim around the boats. The water is as clear as a bahamian beach, you can see every rock underneath you, and when it gets too deep to see the bottom the water becomes the purest shade of navy. It's glacier water, so normally very cold, but refreshing after a long hike. We try to take the 8 hour drive up to Tahoe from Los Angeles every summer. You don't get much service, barely there wifi and you are alone with your thoughts or a good book. It truly is the ideal escape to nature.
H i k e s
Tallac Peak: 10 miles to the top of the peak and back, the peak is 9,738 feet tall. I have personally done this hike, it's fairly steep throughout and definitely challenging. Once at the peak your views of Tahoe are incredible. Bring a packed lunch and stay a while at the top to take in the spectacular view, you'll want the break before heading down.
Eagle Lake: Very easy 2 mile hike up to the lake. It's a great little hike if you're looking for something less challenging and to just get your heart pumping a bit. You have views of Emerald bay from the top and you can explore around Eagle lake once you get up there. It's normally crowded with families and dogs.
Rubicon Trail: Not to be mistaken with the 22 mile jeep playground, but the lakefoot trail is 6.5 miles long and connects Bliss State park with Emerald Bay State Park and is a moderate trail that is pretty flat throughout.
Chimney Beach Loop: Only 2.2 miles of trail there and back, the boulder laden cove is one that most people don't know about and you'll find mainly locals. The gold sand and pure turquoise water make this cove an ideal swimming spot, plus true to it's name, there is a random stone chimney in the sand.
Tamarack Peak Loop: A 6 mile loop with a great waterfall in the middle, it's pretty flat most of the way and you hike around the past of the mountain.
F o o d & D r i n k
Camp Richardson Ice Cream serves scoops as big as your face...and it's true. They have a great selection of flavors and are located in a stand alone cabin. You can sit outside on their porch or benches and have your huge ice cream under the sun.
Chamber's Landing Bar & Grill serves a really strong, original punch. This is one of my favorite places to watch the sun set over the mountains in Tahoe. They have live music and a ton of outdoor seating, as well as a bar indoors. In the summer you can hear the band from outside and the doors are always wide open letting in the breeze.
Beacon Bar & Grill is one of my personal favorites. Located on Jameson beach on Camp Richardson in a dark brown and forrest green cabin, the Beacon Bar & Grill is a fun spot with an outdoor patio looking out to the Lake. They have live music, pub grub and lots of drinks. Great place to spend the afternoon hanging out after a long hike or swim.
Sonny's BBQ Shack Bar & Grill makes their own homemade BBQ sauces that are a huge hit in the Tahoe area. It's a great place to chill out and have some beer with your smoked meat sandwich, the prices are very reasonable.
Tahoma PDQ Market serves sandwiches made to order and they are just too good! All are made to order. Pick one up before hiking Tallac peak to eat at the top.
West Shore Pizza is a cozy place to have dinner with a variety of pizza options along with pastas and salads. It recently changed ownership and is apparently better than ever.
Sunnyside is on the West shore of the lake and is a unique place to post up during a day of boating. You can pull up, dock the boat and have a delicious brunch.
Additional Tips and Tricks: Tahoe is full of fun activities like hiking of course, paddle boarding, back packing, jumping off rocks, fishing and tubing down the Truckee River. There are many places you can rent jet skis as well you're looking for speed. If you have a boat up there it opens up a door to wake boarding, waterskiing, tubing and just hanging out and having some brews.
On the South side in Nevada side there are some casinos to gamble and get a little rowdy at, kind of like a mini, low key vegas.
There is also Zephyr cove which hosts a big, beach party scene, definitely worth checking out if you're feeling like shaking things up.