One of our wedding gifts included a trip to the Lake Tahoe region, complete with flight, cabin, and rental car. It was totally unexpected and totally, us. We had been on the fence about when to honeymoon and the late-summer trip to the gorgeous, alpine lake provided the perfect mini-“WOLO”moon! [Side note: We are happy to report that we will be leaving for our official honeymoon in southern Thailand tomorrow! Woot, woot!]
Flying into Reno, “The Biggest Little City”, we made the short drive across the stateline to Incline Village, located on the northeast side of the lake. With our limited amount of time, we only explored a portion of what summer has to offer, so we’ll definitely be going back. But, before we make the return trip, we want to share what we found, so you can go WOLOing yourself.
Here are some fun facts to get you acquainted:
- Lake Tahoe is also know as The Lake of the Sky
- Two-thirds of the lake is located in CA and one-third in NV
- Age = 2 million years
- Average surface water temp = 51.9 degrees F
- Average water temp in July = 64.9 degrees F (but it felt so much warmer in the late-August sun!)
- Average snowfall = 409 inches (34 feet)
- Water clarity = average depth of 73.1 feet
- Highest peak: Freel Peak at 10,881 feet
- Human population = 66,000
- Number of visitors per year = 3 million
Our first hike of the trip was to Eagle Lake. You can pick up the 2 mile (round-trip) trail head in South Lake Tahoe. The trek was moderate, climbing gently at first, then ascending a set of stone steps that lead us to a cross bridge providing great views of Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay. From there, the trail lead us into the heart of Desolation Wilderness and eventually spit us out at Eagle Lake, a glacial cirque below North Maggies Peak. Had we continued past Eagle Lake, we would have found Velmas, Dicks, and Fontanillis lakes; however, the island in the middle of Eagle called our names, so we opted for a swim in the clear, refreshing glacial waters. With thunder rumbling nearby, we swam steadily out to the island, quickly climbed out, jumped back in almost just as fast, and swam back to shore before high-tailing it down the trail to avoid any lightening strikes (treeline hiking is not recommended in a thunderstorm)!
The next day we explored Secret Cove and Whale Beach. These are two off-the beaten path, must-see places that are very easy to get to (a gentle 10-minute walk), fun to explore, and just plain beautiful! Can you guess why Whale Beach was named as such? Go find out! Seriously, go see these adjective-overloaded spots now before the secret gets out to the other 3 million people visiting this area annually. Note: You can find these beaches, along with a few others (i.e. Chimney Beach, Boaters Beach, and Creek Beach), along Highway 28 on the remote east shore of Lake Tahoe. Also, clothing is optional around these parts (and yes, we did see someone free-balling it whilst enjoying the early morning sun…WOLO!).
That afternoon we enjoyed an easy hike down to Tahoe’s hidden castle in Emerald Bay, Vikingsholm. Completed in 1929, this “castle” served as a summer home for more than 15 years, before it was acquired by the State of California. It is considered one of the best examples of Scandinavian architecture in the USA, and is now open for tours. It is definitely worth a look around, but it is also important to remember that the distance and gradient is the same when you hike back up, as it was when hiking down (aka the steepness will leave you puffed!).
Vikingsholm Castle, Emerald Bay
Our last day on Lake Tahoe came too soon, but was well-spent lounging at Sand Harbor, a Nevada State Park. The water was a glorious temperature, the waves rolled in gently, and the underwater clarity made for some hilarious GoPro videos. We’re calling this the alpine-Caribbean; the only thing it is missing is the tropical marine life, but it is amazing! Go and see this natural wonder – it’s totally worth your dime!
Next stop: Castle Crags, CA