While working our way through California we made plans to take a little break between Lassen Volcanic and Yosemite for some R&R at Lake Tahoe. The Lake Tahoe area had long been on our list of must-sees, and although aware that the King Fire was causing havoc in canyons and communities west of Lake Tahoe we decided to proceed with a cautious but adventurous check it out and see attitude. Some people scoffed and others just laughed that we thought we needed some rest and relaxation.
Settling into our campsite at Fallen Leaf Campground, on the South Side of Lake Tahoe, we prepared to just sit around for a couple of days, relax, listen to the birds and explore the sizable on-site lake with Skyler.
This lasted for all of about half a day before the other more famous lake beckoned to us. We headed out the next morning to the visitor center and to drive around Lake Tahoe to take in the jaw dropping scenery. With props to the driver, the sheer size of the lake took a decent amount of driving and entailed crossing back and forth in spots from California to Nevada. Several times we had to explain at the “border” that we didn’t have fruit or vegetables from a state other than California. As if.
One of our most memorable stops along the way turned out to be at Emerald Bay State Park, located on the California side of the lake. We arrived at the parking lot and had to pay $10 for parking (gotta love California). A fabulous, albeit windswept, overlook of Lake Tahoe, Emerald bay and Fannette Island presents at the cliff top. Not for those with a fear of heights!
We headed down Rubicon Trail for a one-mile descent to the lakeshore. The locals claim the return trek feels more like three-miles! Upon our arrival at the lakeshore we took off our shoes and enjoyed walking on the beach and getting our feet wet in the cool waters.
There is a dock, picnic area, marked swimming area, and a mansion called Vikingsholm that we did not have the opportunity to explore but comes highly rated. A memorable hike and, yes, it did feel longer on the return to the top.
On our way back to the campground we encountered smoke coming from the west and worried if this might be part of the King Fire advancing. Throughout the day smoke had gathered in and out of valleys around the lake, settling and abating with the changing winds. As we rounded another corner we could see fire fighters along the roadside. We ended the long day by heading back out to Logan Shoals Vista Point on the eastern side of the lake to see the sunset. The smoke we saw earlier was now quite visible (it turned out to be a local fire) to which the sky responded with contrails ablaze with the setting sun.
Up Next: Yosemite