Memorable water and snow activities in South Lake Tahoe
Tahoe South

Splash & Slide Create memories in water and snow

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By Kayla Anderson

Tahoe South is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise, offering year-round recreation in a majestic alpine environment. Whether you’ve traveled to South Lake Tahoe to play in the water or the snow—or on trails, in meadows, or on golf courses—you’ll discover activities that will lead to memorable experiences.

Spring // Discover a waterfall

Springtime in Tahoe South includes the best of both worlds as the warming weather allows you to enjoy a multitude of sports in one day. It’s quite common to see mountain bikes atop cars parked at the local ski resorts, with the plan to do some spring skiing in the morning followed by a mountain bike ride or hike in the afternoon. This is also the best time for a waterfall hike, as snowmelt creates energetic, picture-worthy flows.

The moderate hike to Cascade Creek Falls is great for families—rewarding the scramble through small boulders with lovely trailside cascades. This easy, yet rocky two-mile round-trip features excellent views of Cascade Lake, Emerald Bay, and Lake Tahoe.

Boasting a breathtaking backdrop of Emerald Bay, the trek to Eagle Falls gives hikers plenty of opportunities to capture some ’Grammable moments. This two-mile loop is of moderate difficulty with a 433-foot elevation gain. Wilderness permits are required and available at the trailhead.

Glen Alpine Falls is a South Lake Tahoe favorite because it’s possible to get so close to the cascading waters that one can feel the mist directly from the trail. The path to get there is just as pretty as the falls themselves, which vigorously flow over a staggered set of granite rocks.

While there are no waterfalls on the hike to Aloha Lake in Desolation Wilderness, this destination is a worthy trip nonetheless. The 12.5-mile loop starts at the lower end of Echo Lake and follows the rocky shoreline into the trees, eventually ending at Aloha. The small bodies of clear, blue water dotting the granite landscape are a spectacular sight to see and a fun, cooling splash. To shave some miles off the journey, take the boat taxi from one end of Echo Lake to the other. Wilderness permits are required, and there is a self-serve area at the trailhead.

Summer // Get on the lake

As mid-year temps climb into the sizzle zone in the valleys, South Lake Tahoe’s mountain altitude offers reprieve from the heat. And so does Lake Tahoe—the crystal-clear, blue water beckons all to its refreshing shores. The Lake Tahoe Water Trail is a perfect way to begin, with 72 miles of signed shoreline paddling for all experience levels. For personal direction and recommendations, as well as all the gear you’ll need, Tahoe South’s water equipment rental shops can help get you right out on beautiful Lake Tahoe.

Hop on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) from South Tahoe Standup Paddle for their Rise & Shine Morning Tour that explores areas of the lake only accessible via human-powered vessel. Starting from El Dorado Beach, you’ll paddle your way into an estuary where bald eagles and other native wildlife are often spotted. For a fun and convenient glide through the water, consider Tahoe Sports, which offers half- and full-day SUP rentals at Ski Run Marina.

If sitting down is more your style, then view the huge boulders and other features beneath the water’s surface from the seat of a kayak. Start your explorations from Nevada Beach, Timber Cove Marina, Pope Beach, Baldwin Beach, or Vikingsholm Beach with Kayak Tahoe, or take full advantage of Lake Tahoe’s crystalline water with a tour or rental through Clearly Tahoe, South Lake’s only provider of transparent kayaks.

Looking for a faster ride? Enjoy the refreshing breeze and cool spray of water from behind the controls of a powerboat or personal watercraft. Tahoe Sports offers rentals in the Tahoe Keys and at Ski Run Marina, while Action Watersports of Tahoe rents its rides at Camp Richardson Historic Resort and Marina as well as Lakeside, Timber Cove, and Round Hill Pines marinas.

The crystal-clear blue lake beckons all to its refreshing shores.

Fall // Take a cruise

Dying to get out on Lake Tahoe with someone else at the helm? The crisp days of fall make a perfect time to sit back, relax, and enjoy Tahoe’s landmarks on a scenic cruise.

South Lake Tahoe’s paddlewheeler, the M.S. Dixie II at Zephyr Cove, carries up to 500 passengers to Emerald Bay on daytime tours and dinner cruises. For a more private, upscale experience, Zephyr Cove’s 82-foot, two-story Tahoe Paradise yacht features a dining room, sun deck, and full bar for ultimate fun and incredible sightseeing out on the water.

To do a Tahoe boating experience in style, climb aboard the 1953 Chris-Craft named the Golden Rose. On the luxurious Tahoe Tastings cruise, sample eight fine wines while enjoying a tranquil tour through the Tahoe Keys and Emerald Bay. Seats are limited and fill up fast on this vintage wooden yacht, so be sure to reserve in advance.

Bring along five of your closest friends for a fun-filled, private powerboat tour with Lake Tahoe Boat Rides. Enjoy the sights as your knowledgeable captain navigates the waters and regales tales of lake life and the region’s history.

Savor your mid-day meal in style aboard the Tahoe Bleu Wave. Reserve a spot for a public lunch or wine tour on this classic, luxury 70-foot yacht, complete with fireplace and party bow. If you’d rather have the vessel to yourself, private cruises are also available.

More interested in what’s in the water than the sights around it? South Lake Tahoe’s fishing charters provide friendly guides, equipment, and the chance to catch mackinaw, trout, and maybe some salmon. A visit to Tahoe Sport Fishing is a great starting point for visiting anglers.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy Tahoe’s landmarks on a scenic cruise.

Winter // It’s snow much fun!

Mother Nature graces Lake Tahoe with a variety of play for snow enthusiasts. Pair that with the region’s plentiful sun, and the scene is set for perfect bluebird powder days.

Skiers and snowboarders of any ability can find secret powder stashes, fun terrain parks, and wide trails at Tahoe South’s three downhill resorts. At Heavenly Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe’s largest ski resort, gate-accessed steeps in Killebrew or Mott Canyons appeal to true adrenaline junkies while the resort’s 47 groomed intermediate trails provide fun for all. West of the village, Heavenly’s sister mountain, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, seems to have its own weather system, as the snow is always plentiful. Its 2,300 acres of terrain consists of snow-blanketed ridgelines, cornices, and chutes. Off Highway 50, about half an hour from the heart of South Lake Tahoe, the freestyle skier and snowboarder playground of Sierra-at-Tahoe promises stimulating terrain parks and a hip vibe.

For trekking in the backcountry or around the lake by cross-country ski or snowshoe, Camp Richardson Mountain Sports Center is the place to go. Enjoy a sunny winter walk alongside the glistening lake, or glide through the trees on the Eagle Ski Trails. On Highway 88, before the turn onto Kirkwood Meadows Drive, Cross Country & Snowshoe Center at Kirkwood is one of Tahoe South’s largest cross-country centers. Take advantage of 37 miles of groomed trails with dedicated snowshoe and skating lanes. For something more remote, try the moderate 2.5-mile loop around Spooner Lake, a reservoir that is usually frozen over in the winter. While there are no services at Spooner, groomed trails lead skiers through the snow beneath Jeffrey pines and aspens.

Looking for more snow play? Heavenly Mountain Resort offers on-snow tubing at the top of the gondola, Hansen’s Resort leases snow saucers and tubes, and Adventure Mountain on Echo Summit has several groomed lanes with sled rentals. Within an easy walk from a few hotels, Tahoe Snowmobiles in Stateline also features a tubing hill as well as snowmobile rentals.

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