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Best Kayaking Destinations: Lake Tahoe


Tucked into the snowy Sierra Nevada mountain range between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe welcomes travelers of all kinds but is especially appealing to athletes and adventurers with its easygoing, pine-scented atmosphere.

Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake, the second deepest lake in the nation. The clear, cobalt blue lake should be on every kayaker’s must do list, but with 72 miles of shoreline, it’s important to plan your trip.

How to Kayak Lake Tahoe

While the entire lake can be circumnavigated in one shot, it is probably better to break it up into smaller segments. Here are some suggestions for fun day kayaking trips in Lake Tahoe.

North Shore

The North Shore of Lake Tahoe is dotted with alcoves of soft sand beaches. It offers good paddling for all abilities as well as access to many other natural and cultural tourist spots from the beach area. There are several public launch and landing sites with on-site amenities as well as numerous places to stop and enjoy lakeside refreshments. There’s shopping in Kings Beach, art gallery and dining in Tahoe Vista, cafes and restaurants in Carnelian Bay. The historic Gatekeeper’s Museum at Lake Tahoe’s outlet at the Truckee River and the Barton Creek outfall in Lake Forest. There’s also Commons Beach and Tahoe City itself to explore. Lakefront lodges in the area make it an easy choice for overnight paddling as well.

East Shore

The east shore offers up the most scenic paddling of Lake Tahoe. Massive boulders reflect in the calm waters. Pine trees perch in rocky fields. Willow trees line small inlets. Most of the east shore near Sand Harbor is publicly owned and offers just enough beach for a quiet picnic lunch, however once you get south into the Cave Rock area that is not the case. So, plan for a day trip when launching from this area.

South Shore

The south side of the lake contains Emerald Bay, the jewel of Lake Tahoe, as well as miles of sandy beaches, large meadows and marshes and historic sites. Plan a historic stop at Tallac or stay at Zephyr Cove or Camp Richardson. There are hiking and biking trails, picnic stops, lakeside bistros and lots of birdwatching, all within easy access from the water.

West Shore

The West Shore of Lake Tahoe offers some of the clearest and calmest waters of the lake along with natural and cultural opportunities. There’s a short hike to the top of Eagle Rock, accessible from Kaspian Beach. Bird watching along the shore of Sugar Pine Point State Park. Tours of the historic Ehrman Mansion. Meeks Bay offers lakeside campgrounds and cabins to turn your day trip into an overnight adventure.

Proper Kayak Storage Between Trips

Even though you’d probably like to, you can’t always be on the water. Between trips, make sure your kayak is properly stored. A custom kayak rack will help preserve your kayak, so it lasts longer and requires less maintenance. For specific questions, inquiries, or custom orders, contact Log Kayak Rack at 1-715-543-2006.