Get a taste of nature and adventure with these Lake Tahoe outdoor activities

Get a taste of nature and adventure with these Lake Tahoe outdoor activities
Source: Flickr, Eric Philbin

As Lake Tahoe is home to water, mountains, trees and more, there are plenty of Lake Tahoe outdoor activities that will allow you to get a taste of adventure on its terrain. Almost three million visitors flock to Lake Tahoe from all corners of the United States, and even the world, to get a taste of the fresh drinking water and experience the vast natural region and the best views of Lake Tahoe.

As it rests on the border of California and Nevada, residents from both states adore the lake. The deep crystal waters and the lush pine forests would seduce any outdoor enthusiast. From hikes and mountain bikes to afternoon skis and boat rides, this large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas has a bounty of outdoor activities for you and your friends and family to try.

Not a sporty person? You can still enjoy the outdoors by soaking in the lake by the shore or on a boat. The many available Lake Tahoe outdoor activities offer so much for avid adventurers, but they by no means exclude those who prefer a calm day by the water. Regardless of your activity, remember to honor the principles of Leave No Trace.


Do you love to hike, but you’d prefer to leave the camping gear behind and opt for a nice day hike? Definitely try out Rubicon Peak Trail, a 3.5-mile out-and-back hike along the west side of Lake Tahoe. Though the elevation gain totals about 2,000 feet, you only have to scramble up the hills to reach a mild section of the trail.

The views of Tahoe’s coastline will steal your breath if the climb itself doesn’t. Pack a picnic lunch to take on a short detour to a small lighthouse called Rubicon Point Lighthouse. The trail begins near D.L. Bliss State Park, and you’ll find restrooms in the parking lot. Don’t forget the US$10 fee to park.

If a day hike just isn’t enough, then plan for a thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Get ready for 165 miles of meadows, vistas and alpine lakes. It overlaps with sections of the famous Pacific Crest Trail. You can even take a guided trip for two weeks on the trail.

If you don’t have the time or the mental and physical strength to backpack 165 miles, then consider a day hike or a shorter backpacking trip. The most photographed section of the Tahoe Rim Trail is undoubtedly Christopher’s Loop with stunning views of Lake Tahoe and Marlene Lake.

Water sports

Looking for a fishing trip? A boat ride? An adrenaline rush? There’s little Lake Tahoe outdoor activities don’t have in the way of water-related entertainment. If you’d like to rent a boat, then take a look at Tahoe Sports. Already a boat-owner? Take your own boat out on the water, then cruise on over to Emerald Bay, a colorful oasis perfect for a day out on the water.

Declared a National Natural Landmark in 1969, Emerald Bay houses Lake Tahoe’s only natural island. Fannette Island is famous for its old tea house. Yes, you read correctly. These days it’s only four stone walls. Break out your kayaks and paddle boards for an up close and personal experience with the pristine water and Fannette Island.

Zephyr Cove is another great location to break out the SUP. If you need more excitement then try water skiing or wakeboarding. Need a lesson? Birkholm’s Water Ski and Wakeboard School will do the trick.

Snow sports

Snow doesn’t come to mind for most when they think of California, but if you’re a SoCal resident and you’re bored of the perpetual summer, you have to experience a Tahoe winter. The fresh powder with the backdrop of the beautiful blue lake will satisfy all your snowy dreams. Get ready for a bluebird day in the mountains.

If crowds aren’t a deterrent for you skiers and snowboarders, head over to Heavenly Mountain Resort. With its views and well-groomed trails, it certainly lives up to its name. Stay late for the après ski parties. Not a partyer? Stay late anyway. There’s nothing quite like a winter sunset. Heavenly also has an ice rink for those who aren’t excited about strapping their feet to a board or two long boards. Other resorts include Kirkwood Mountain Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe.


Tahoe National Forest is a mountain bike mecca. Tahoe Rim Trail also offers incredible opportunities for mountain bikers to summit peaks and take in beautiful views. Check out the 23.2-mile bike from the Kingsbury South trailhead to the Big Meadow trailhead.
The combination of constant sun and the steep climbs necessitate ample water. It’s worth it. It’s one of the most scenic single track mountain-bike trails in the area. Seeking a more technical challenge? Try the South Yuba Trail, a steep, twisty single-track that goes on for 20 miles. You may feel like you’ve entered the set of “Lord of the Rings” with its spectacular greenery.

Have a tip or story? Get in touch with our reporters at