Lake Tahoe is a stunning, deep blue body of water that covers a 70-mile perimeter of the border of California and Nevada. This serene lake, also known as the Lake in the Sky, sits surrounded by stately mountains. In the winter, the ski resorts draw crowds from near and far. The Winter Olympics of 1960 were held here at Squaw Valley. This winter playground reputation is well deserved, but summer offers so many reasons to visit Lake Tahoe, too.
Recently I visited here the first week of summer. The weather reached highs in the 80s, the roads and hiking trails were clear of snow, and restaurants and shops that close in the winter were newly opened for business. Melting snow filled creeks, and the lake’s only outlet, the Truckee River, flowed with whitewater rapids. Here are a few highlights of summer at Lake Tahoe.
Head Out For a Hike
My favorite activity at Lake Tahoe is hiking. I’ll show you one of my go-to hiking routes, though you can choose from so many options. Whether you want a flat trail or a strenuous challenge, you can find it somewhere around the lake.
On the first day of summer, we headed to the Tahoe Meadows Trail on the north end of the lake, right above the little city of Incline Village. Stop at the nearby viewpoint on the highway for scenes like this.
The meadow is fairly flat, so it’s ideal for a hike with young children or senior dogs. The spring growth is so picturesque.
After an easy walk through the meadow, you meet up with the Tahoe Rim Trail. This encompasses the entire lake, but you can hike small portions of it. Climbing up, with a bit of huffing and puffing, you come out on fabulous views of Lake Tahoe.
Pedal Your Way Along Lake Tahoe
Bike trails run right along the lakeshore and open in late spring. My favorite is the section from the Tahoe City dam south to Homewood ski resort on the west side of the lake. We took Bailey along with us in his basket and he was one happy pup. You can rent a bike in Tahoe City, Incline Village, or South Tahoe, then spend a blissful day gliding alongside the crystal blue waters.
If you’re a mountain bike enthusiast, you’re in luck. Trails allow bicycles, sometimes on alternate days so check the local postings. The ultimate mountain bike ride is the flume trail, high above the lake. It’s single track, so be careful, but you will love this ride if you’re looking for an adventure!
Enjoy Nature in the Summer Season
Another reason I enjoy Lake Tahoe in the early summer is that you can clearly see the year’s growth on the pine trees. These needles were curly because they had just popped out. By the next day I walked by this tree and they had straightened out. I felt like I was seeing nature unfold her wonders.
With most of the snow melted, the creek by our deck ran full and LOUD. The tumbling water rushing along is so relaxing.
While summer sees the lake more full, the creeks running, and green covering the ground where snow lay a few weeks before, one thing remains constant. The tall pines reach into the sky year round. I love gazing up at them.
Of course, summer at Lake Tahoe also means water sports. You can enjoy kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and all kinds of boats. Jet-skiing and parasailing are available in South Tahoe. The water in June is very cold, but I did watch a few people brave it and go in, with some accompany shrieks. Later in the summer the water is more welcoming.
You are bound to enjoy Lake Tahoe in the summer, whether you want to relax on a small beach or take a yoga class on a stand-up paddleboard. Just being in the presence of this vast blue treasure will leave you relaxed and refreshed.
Planning Where to Stay
We prefer the quiet north end of Lake Tahoe. Incline Village is our favorite small city. Little towns such as King’s Beach dot the north shore. Tahoe City, on the west side of the north end of the lake, has an abundance of rentals of boats, bikes, and kayaks. Camping is good on the west shore, south of Emerald Bay. South Tahoe is the place to head if you want to experience casinos and high-rise accommodations.