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Lake Tahoe in California

by  BarraCuda

A self-supported trip created by BarraCuda

Trip Overview

I am not a touring kayaker, so I am not the best person to write this report. Tahoe is best suited for sea kayaks and Sit on Top touring Yaks like the OC Scupperpro. But how can we not have a report on Lake Tahoe in the California section?

I will provide the basic details and hope someone provides a more detailed report. There are a couple things you need to know.

WARNING! The water can be deadly cold!

Emerald Bay is the jewel of Lake Tahoe. Fante Island and Vikingholm are not to be missed. Vikinsholm is a recreated Norse lodge built by real Scandinavian craftsmen imported by a very wealthy lady. She also built a very nice stone cottage on top of Fante Island. I won't even go into all the old Indian legends, and pirate stories. Yes, pirate stories!

The bay is shallow and is the warmest part of the Lake. Visibility is well over 100 feet. Water temps can get to the 70's in late summer, and early fall. Deep parts of the lake are so cold as to be dangerous even in the summer.

You can NOT put in at Emerald Bay! The hike down is very steep. Neither can you put in at Emerald Bay Campground. Also a very steep trail. I have done it, but not recommended.

You can put in at Tahoe Keys and go north, but I strongly recommend you put in at BLISS STATE PARK BEACH on the west side off highway 89 and go south to the bay. You can park right next to the beach there. The cliffs are incredible. Takes me over 1 1/2 hours one way in whitewater duckie, but about an hour in touring kayak.

They also have camping at Bliss, but you must reserve up to six months ahead of time as it is very busy in the summer. You can stay in south Lake Tahoe, but bring lots of money!

Lots of rental places. One good one is Tahoe Kayak at 3411 Highway 50 in south shore.

Hope some touring type provides a better report. I just go to the lake when I get closed out on the Truckee River, or haven't put a trip together.

Sometimes I combine gambling and kayaking. NOT recommended!


Camping at Bliss State Park, or stay and gamble on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. Bring lots of money if you stay in south shore.


$5 parking at Bliss Beach


Highway 89 between Highway 50 and Highway 80

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip, 2-3 Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water

Trip Location