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Reno/Tahoe Outdoors

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On the water | diving |fishing | beaches | golf & tennis
camping | hiking | cycling | riding | skiing | snowmobiling

Most recreational activities around Reno is to be had at Lake Tahoe: skiing, show boarding, mountain biking, boating, water skiing, hiking on mountain and forest lands, riding (horses), and driving to see the sights along the beautiful mountain lake.

Two long multi-use trails involving both the Lake Tahoe and Truckee area and the Reno/Sparks area are in different stages of construction, and provide good riding on the existing parts of the trails.

When its finished, the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway will take riders all the way from Lake Tahoe at Tahoe City on the north shore,to Truckee, and down the Truckee River Canyon past Reno and Sparks to the shores os Pyramid Lake in the high desert east of Reno — a total distance of 116 miles. Two-thirds of the trail is open for riding. Through cities the trail is paved, and in rural areas it's a dirt trail offering riders two very different expoeriences.

The second multi-use trail is being built with several open sections leading down the length of the Carson Valley, south of Reno. As with the Tahoe/Pyramid Trail, the Carson Valley Trail is a non-profit project. this one being built by the Carson Valley Trails Association. Part of the longer trail is in the Genoa area, 16 miles through the west-side Sierra foothills. This trail is used by hikers, runners, bikers and horseback riders.

In the spring of 2014, another section 9.5 miles long will be opened in the Jacks Valley/ Clear Acre area, on the east side of the Carson Valley. Both trails are planned to be completely finished in another ten years.

Pyramid Lake: This salt lake, is the remnant of the much deeper and larger Lahontan Lake that has since mostly disappeared, yet Pyramid Lake covers more than 180 square miles and is 300 feet deep.It is an endorheic lake — a lake having no drainage. and thus no outlet. It's fed by the Truckee River with its origin at Lake Tahoe.

The lake is part of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe reservation. Most of the recreation sites are along the west shore. Permits to enter the recreation areas must be obtained in advance on-line, or from stores and vendors in the area in addition at the Sutcliffe Ranger Station, 2500 Lakebiew Drive, in the town of Sutcliffe. The lake offers a nice place to camp and take in the sun, but visitors should be advised that being out on the lake can be dangerous with strong winds and thunderstorms happen quickly. There are no lifeguards in the swimming areas.

The remainder of this page covers Lake Tahoe outdoor attractions and can be also accessed on our Lake Tahoe area guide.

On the Water

Boating is one of the favorite pastimes of Tahoe residents and visitors alike. Launch ramps are available at (from west to east along the south shore) Cave Rock, Camp Richardson, Lakeside Marina, Tahoe Keys Marina, Ski Run Marina, Timber Cove Marina and Zephyr Cove Marina. Lake Tahoe offers a year-round fishing experience. You'll find campgrounds around the lake, ranging from deluxe RV parks with full hookups and other facilities, to primitive backcountry sites in the national forest. In-between are the state park campgrounds. A good place to check out the camping availabilities is the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center in South Lake Tahoe.

Those who want others to do the driving should head for one of the piers where cruise boats leave for jaunts across the lake. You have your choice of two paddle wheelers and two 55-foot catamarans, plus several charter operations that will take you sightseeing, partying, or fishing. The M.S. Dixie II and the Tahoe Queen are the paddle wheelers. The Woodwind is a catamaran, based in Zephyr Cove, with four daily sailing cruises, plus a champagne sunset cruise. For information, call (775) 588-3000. The Sierra Cloud is the other catamaran, at the Hyatt Beach pier, with scheduled daytime and evening cruises, (775) 835-1234.

Parasailing is available at Action Water Sports, at the Hyatt beach (Incline Village), at North Shore Parasailing in Kings Beach, and at Lake Tahoe Parasailing, in Tahoe City (northwest shore).

Several marinas around the lake offer water skiing lessons, including Kings Beach Aqua Sports, on the north shore, (530) 546-2782.

Kayaks may be rented at Action Watersports, call (775) 831-4368.

Scubs Diving

Divers -- novices and experts -- enjoy the lake, experiencing steep vertical drops near the shoreline, with schools of various trout on hand, and dramatic submerged granite rocks close to the beaches.


It's not necessary to bring your own boat to go fishing on Lake Tahoe. On the North Shore, boat rentals are available through Action Water Sports, at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe, call (775) 831-4FUN, or at the North Tahoe Marina (530) 546-8248, and Tahoe Water Adventures (530) 583-3225.

Marinas offer fishing charters, and experienced anglers will take you out for a fishing excursion. South Shore anglers can find several launch locations close to Highway 50.

Fish to be found in the Lake Tahoe include several species of trout -- mackinaw, brown, golden, rainbow, eastern brook, and cutthroat -- plus kokanee and whitefish. Ice fishing is a popular sport at several of the high backcountry lakes.


Along the South Shore, public beaches are scattered from Emerald Bay and Baldwin Beaches (via Highway 89) to the town shoreline via Highway 50. Popular beaches in the town of South Lake Tahoe include Kiva Beach, Pope Beach, Camp Richardson Beach, and the beach at Timber Cove. Other Highway 50 locations include Regan Beach, El Dorado, Nevada Beach (Highway 50 and Elk Point), and Zephyr Cove Beach, also on Highway 50 on the Nevada side.

Some of the best beaches on the lake are found just south of Incline Village, via Highway 28. Hidden Beach, Sand Harbor. Chimney Beach, Secret Harbor, and Skunk Harbor, are all easily found from parking areas along Highway 28 and Highway 50. Hidden Beach is at Lake Tahoe State Park, about a mile south of Incline Village. Sand Harbor has several small coves. Chimney Beach is 2.6 miles south of Sand Harbor, where a winding trail leads to the water. Another mile south, and you'll come across a parking lot with a trail that descends to Secret Harbor.

There's a stretch of road south of here where people park beside the highway and take several trails down to small isolated beaches. Don't be surprised if some of the people you encounter are in the altogether. This is Tahoe's clothing optional area. To the south, a dirt walking road --the gate is locked -- leads down to Skunk Harbor and another fine beach.

Golf and Tennis

On or near the south shore are more golf courses than you can play on a long weekend. Bijou Municipal Golf Course features nine holes (2,015 yards). Edgewood Golf Course is a championship layout on Highway 50 at the South Lake Tahoe/Stateline border. It's the site of the annual Celebrity Championship tournament and is a beautiful lakeside course (7,563 yards), with a driving range as well.

Glenbrook Golf Course has nine holes (5,154 yards)plus an 18-hole course. Lake Tahoe Golf Course has 18 holes (6,588 yards). Tahoe Paradise Golf Course offers a driving range and 18 holes (4,070 yards).

Two courses are on the north shore, both at Incline Village. The two Lakeview courses were designed by Robert Trent Jones. The Championship Course has 18 holes and 6,910 yards (par 72), and the Incline Mountain Course is a much shorter 18-hole layout with 3,513 yards (par 58).

Caesar's and Harvey's offer tennis courts, for a fee. Also on the south shore are free courts at South Tahoe High School, South Tahoe Middle School. Incline Village has 26 courts including seven at the Incline Tennis Center and 12 at the Lakeside Tennis Resort, and more at Zephyr Cove Park/Whittel High School.

You'll also find tennis courts at Kirkwood Ski and Summer Resort, on Highway 88. A fee is charged.


You'll find campgrounds around the lake, ranging from deluxe RV parks with full hookups and other facilities, to primitive backcountry sites in the national forest. In-between are the state park campgrounds. A good place to check out the camping availabilities is the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center in South Lake Tahoe.

Sugar Pine State Park, on the western shore, offers year-round camping. D. L. Bliss State Park offers summer and fall camping near the southwest corner of the lake. Emerald Bay State Park, on the west shore closer to South Lake Tahoe, also features camping.

The Forest Service operates campground facilities in the South Shore Recreation Area (Fallen Leaf Campground). There are more forest campsites at Meeks Bay, Kaspian, William Kent (all on the western shore between South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City), and along Highway 89 north of Tahoe City (Silver Creek, Hoose Meadow, and Granite Flat).

Along the eastern shore, you'll find a Forest Service campground at Nevada Beach, just north of Stateline.

It's a bit removed from the lake, but you might like to explore natural mountain beauty while staying at the Stampede Recreation Area, beside the Stampede Reservoir, north of Interstate 80, via Route 270. Also in the same general area are five campground along Highway 89, north of I-80, and the Jackson Meadow Recreation Area, via Highway 80 and Forest Road 07.

All of the above Forest Service campgrounds, operated by California Land Management, take reservations at 1-800-283-CAMP.


If you're visiting South Lake Tahoe, the best place to gather information, and to start a hiking vacation, is the U.S. Forest Service Information Center on Highway 69. Several trails are available from this site, including Lake of the Sky, Tallack Historic Site, and Rainbow trails. In this general area are the Mt. Tallack, Angora Lakes, Clark, Glen Alpine, and Echo Lake trails, and these are just a few. The Forest Service provides a trail map for the area.

The ultimate hiking area is the Desolation Wilderness, located in the high peaks above Lake Tahoe's west shore. Here are huge masses of jumbled granite, with a stunted pine forest. The main entrance to the wilderness area is off Highway 50, west of Myers and beyond the first major ridge. Travel here is limited to horseback or foot, and overnight hiking permits are required.

The state parks in California offer many hiking opportunities.
Emerald Bay State Park has a scenic trail that descends to the beach and leads to Vikingsholm, an historic mansion which is in the style of a Scandinavian castle. D.L. Bliss State Park, on the same part of the Lake, offers easy hiking, plus camping, with swimming at Lester Beach.

Sugar Pine Point State Park, farther along the western shore, offers summer and winter camping, hiking and water activity.

The Tahoe Rim Trail has been a long time in the building, and is nearing completion. Much of it is now available for hiking. This trail, when finished, will offer a 150-mile loop along the lake's rim, along high ridges and across subalpine and alpine meadows. Tourist offices have information on this great experience (also see Cycling, on this page).

Hiking near the North Shore is just as good. Spooner Lake offers an easy two-mile loop walk. The hike to the summit of Mt. Rose is a six-mile hike, only for experienced and hardy hikers.


The areas close to the lake offer many cycling opportunities. The Tahoe Rim Trail has sections which are suitable for cycling. Near Incline Village is the Flume Trail, which offers up to 25-miles of exciting riding starting at Spooner Lake. Another challenging and popular ride starts at Highway 267, heading north on a route to Martis Peak with wonderful views of Mount Rose, and the Truckee/Donner Summit area.

Another route begins at Spooner Summit, on Highway 50, about one mile east of the Hwy. 28 junction. The trail climbs Genoa Peak and leads along the crest of the Carson Range. It ends on the Kingsbury Grade, above the lake's southern shore. Along the way are satisfying views of the lake and the Carson Valley (to the east and way down) For North Shore bike rentals, try Village Bicycles (775) 831-3537, and Porter's Ski and Sport (775) 831-3500.

While visiting the South Shore, check out the Pope-Baldwin Bike Path, a paved trail that leads from the South Shore beaches to Emerald Bay and the state park there. The South Lake Tahoe Bike Path starts near El Dorado Beach, and is part of a series of trails through South Lake Tahoe, and running into Stateline, Nevada.

For details on bikes trails along the South and North shores, and in the Tahoe City/Squaw Valley area, Go Here.

Kirkwood Ski Area (Highway 88) is a place for experienced mountain bikers. Kirkwood and other ski areas, including Heavenly and Squaw Valley, offer lifts for you and your bike up the mountain, and then let you find your way down. Squaw Valley is also great for cyclists who are lifted in the giant cable car to High Camp, where trails lead around the tops of the ridges.


On the North Shore -- in the Crystal Bay-Incline Village area -- Zephyr Cove Stables (775) 588-5664. offers horses for trail riding in the nearby forests. Northstar Stables is just north of Crystal Bay, call (530) 562-1230.

South Shore riding operations include Camp Richardson's Corral, which rents horses by the hour, or are able to arrange pack trips. Sunset Ranch also has horses for hire.

Kirkwood (the ski and summer resort) and Sorenson's Resort are located south of the lake, and both have riding available. Kirkwood has its riding operation on Highway 88, just south of Caples Lake. It's about 45 minutes' drive from the lake. Sorenson's rustic all-weather resort, in the beautiful Hope Valley (via Highway 99), also offers riding by the hour or by pack trip.


There is no end to skiing opportunities, and the Tahoe area boasts the most downhill ski slopes anywhere within an hour's drive of each other. You have your choice of 15 downhill operations and 13 cross-country courses.

Here is a short summary of the ski areas. For much more information on ski hills, go to the Skiing Page.


Alpine ski resorts include Heavenly Ski Resort (South Lake Tahoe with Nevada and California sites), Sierra-at-Tahoe (Highway 50), Squaw Valley (located between Truckee and Tahoe City), Alpine Meadows (next door to Squaw Valley), Sugar Bowl, Donner Ski Ranch, and Tahoe Donner are off Interstate 80. Boreal is found at the Highway 80 Donner Summit.

Diamond Peak is a few miles from Incline Village. Donner Ski Ranch is found at the summit on Interstate 80. Granlibakken is close to Tahoe City on the California side. Homewood is midway between South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City via Highway 89.

Mount Rose Ski Area is just east of Incline Village. Northstar-at-Tahoe is in the same general area, north of Crystal Bay, via Highway 267.

Kirkwood is an increasingly popular ski hill -- with the deepest snow and the highest runs in the region -- located on Highway 88, a 40-minute drive from South Lake Tahoe.

All the larger resort operations feature snowboarding, and have ski rentals and instruction. In the south shore area, the ski areas have a free shuttle service between locations.


Gliding across the snow -- whether you call it cross-country or Nordic -- is one of the great pleasures of a winter day at Tahoe. Cross-country courses are located around the lake. Here is a short summary of a few of these operations. For more information, go to the Tahoe Cross Country Page.

In the Crystal Bay/Incline Village area, Diamond Peak Cross-Country has a Nordic and snowshoe center, located 5 miles north of Incline Village. Groomed trails -- covering 35 miles -- provide a backcountry experience, at a high altitude. For information, call (775) 832-1177

Northstar at Tahoe, on Highway 267, features a Cross Country and Telemark Center, with 40 miles of groomed trails, including striding, skating, and telemark lessons, plus ski rentals. Info: (530) 562-2475.

The cross-country center at Spooner Lake, on Highway 28 near the junction with Hwy. 50, is 10 miles from Incline Village. The mountain and lake views are spectacular, and the Carson Ridge Trail is one of the longest in the region. For info, call (775) 887-8844.


The north shore, where Incline Village and Crystal Bay curve around the northeast corner of the lake, is a good place to begin a winter ride. Several companies rent machines, and the national forest provides the trails. To begin planning, try one of the following:

Eagle Ridge Snowmobile Outfitters, (530) 546-8667

Snowmobiling Unlimited (530) 583-5858

Zephyr Cove Snowmobile Center (775) 588-3833

If sleigh rides are more to your liking, check out the possibilities at Northstar Stables, across the California line (530) 562-1230.

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