The Truckee Tahoe area during summer months hosts unlimited fun for all ages and adventurers! One of our favorite things to do during the hot summer months is take in the unique waters of Lake Tahoe on one of the various pristine beaches. The lake offers a special beachgoer scene not found anywhere else in the world. The towering stone cathedral esc peaks of the Sierra Nevada looming over every beach, the various shades and textures of sand stemming from thousands of years of erosion and tectonic activity, and the topography of the lake which creates hundreds of lagoons, coves, and sand bars, cannot help but make one feel the splendor of being here.
Not to mention the lake offers diamond clear waters where one can see their shadow 60 feet below in the depths when on top of the water…So do what we do, throw down a towel, crack open a cold beverage, turn on your favorite tunes, and take in the high sierra “Beach Bum” style.
D.L Bliss state park is one of the many parks along the west shore of Lake Tahoe that provides hiking, water sports, and beaching. What makes D.L Bliss unique is the geography which surrounds and protects it. The beaches lie between massive cliffs cascading down from peaks above that continue into the depths of the lake, creating a true “deep lagoon” feel. Ever so present with this cliff wall, the geography provides large rock piles and shelves both in the water and along the cliff band providing travelers with a means to traverse and climb along the towering cliff line. Along the traverse the lake displays pristine blue waters which go to depths of over 1500 feet.
For those wishing to simply relax, one can bury their toes in the organic Lake Tahoe sand and take in the sun at one of the two beaches in the park—Calawee Cove, or Lester Beach. Both beaches offer mesmerizing scenes of divine sand mixed with vegetations of the Eldorado National Forest, views of the Sierra Nevada, and marvelous swimming.
Ed Z’berg – Sugar Pine Point State Park is one of the finest natural areas on Lake Tahoe. With almost two miles of lake frontage, the park hosts dense forests of pine, fir, aspen and juniper, miles of hiking trails, and beach swimming.
Another attraction in the park is the Hellman Ehrman Mansion, aka Pine Lodge. This is a summer home built in 1903 by a mega wealthy financier—of which, many lived around the lake at the time. The home gives one a scope into the lifestyles of the wealthiest Americans during the time.
The park also hosts a nature center and day use parking–$10/day.
This beach offers miles of soft sand, breathtaking views of the western sierra and Mt. Tallac, and is the biggest dog beach around Lake Tahoe. This beach is worth the long drive to the Southshore. Bring a cooler and spend your entire day here. The adjacent Baldwin Beach offers water sport rentals like kayaks, paddleboards, etc. Visitors can combine one of the many beautiful hikes along the water between Kiva Beach and other various beaches to take in the area.
The East Shore Trail is 3.3 miles of paved path that runs above the north eastern shoreline of Lake Tahoe from Tunnel Creek Café to Sand Harbor State Park. The trail offers marvelous views of Lake Tahoe over its entirety as well as access to various coves, outcroppings, and swimming holes. Joggers, bikers, walkers, and beachgoers benefit from the trail with access to Hidden Beach and other splendors of the north eastern shore like Sand Harbor. The trail provides large parking areas at the Tunnel Creek parking lots, where visitors can grab breakfast or lunch at Tunnel Creek Café or rent bikes from Flume Trail Bikes–who are known for providing shuttles and guides through the famous Tahoe Flume Trail.
Sand Harbor is the most famous and popular beach around Lake Tahoe. It offers turquoise Caribbean-like water, sublime swimming and non-motorized water sports, miles of white sandy beach, and unique rock piles along the water set for climbing and scrambling over. During the summer, outdoor music concerts, performances, and in particular, the Shakespeare Festival, take place at the outdoor amphitheater overlooking the lake. The beach also offers kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals at Sand Harbor Rentals.
For those wishing to launch their kayak to explore, fish, or simply take their boat out for a day as a waterman, the harbor provides a boat launch with a dock and adjacent parking. Other amenities in the park are the Sand Harbor Bar and Grill for those needing snacks and concessions, and a picnic area which hosts separate seating and BBQ areas.
Chimney Beach is one of the more unique beaches around Lake Tahoe. It provides visitors with amazing views of the lake, exploration through boulder structures, hundreds of yards of sandy beach, emerald clear water, and to cap it off, an old chimney left over from the early 1900’s. On the trail down to the beach, one will find several different sandy beach pockets between various boulder outcroppings and forest vegetation.
These are great relaxation areas if you wish to avoid other visitors. Once at the beach, the chimney sits in the center and the area is laden with perfect places to lay down a towel and relax all day. Visitors here should bring supplies for a full day of beach fun and exploration. If you stay until sunset, you will not be disappointed.
Kings Beach is a beach town in the heart of North Lake Tahoe. The town itself gives off a true beach vibe with lakeside shopping, water sport rentals, and bars and eateries. The shopping ranges from high-end boutiques to gift shops. The food varies from dive style burger joints to gourmet Hispanic food. The town also offers the Kings Beach State Recreation area, where visitors are privy to playgrounds, picnic areas, a walking pier, and of course large beach space.
Kings Beach recreation area is a great place for families to park and play for a day. Grabbing lunch and essentials is easy as everything you need is within walking distance.
Tahoe City is one of the larger communities around the Lake. It sits on the northwest side of Lake Tahoe. The town is a true mountain town and hosts boutique shopping, fine and dive dining, as well as bars and various adventure shops.
During the summer months, the town is vibrant with window shoppers and lake goers. The city provides many different places to rent cruiser bikes for the Truckee River Bike Trail, and rent paddleboards and kayaks. Tahoe City is where the Truckee River outflows from Lake Tahoe and thus provides amazing river rafting. During spring months, the river is “whitewater”, yet during summer, visitors enjoy a peaceful cruise down the Truckee to the River Ranch at Alpine Meadows ski area. One can rent a raft or tube at Truckee River Rafting company. They also provide shuttles from the pullout back to parking in Tahoe City. Others may bring their own tube or raft and cruise down the river themselves; rentals aren’t required. The best parking in the area beside roadside and adjacent street parking is behind the Tahoe City Transit Center.
Donner Lake is one of the gems that Truckee offers. Located just 10 minutes from the hotel, the Lake is famous for involuntarily hosting the famed Donner Party back in 1846. Surrounded by the looming Sierra Crest and Donner Peak, the lake hosts thick High Sierra forest, various beaches, and several public docks. The Donner Memorial State Park provides miles of hiking trails inside the state park system. During summer the lake is frequented with jet skis, kayaks, paddle boards, boats, and fishermen. Rentals are available at Donner Lake Water Sports located on West End Beach.
The state park at the lake also provides a visitor’s center and is an excellent place to verse yourself over the area’s pioneer, railroad, adventure history, and of course the Donner Party. Besides the visitor center, the park also hosts the Pioneer Monument which is dedicated to pioneers who crossed the Sierra on their way to the “west”. This needs to be a stopover for anyone interested in the history of Lake Tahoe and Truckee. A parking fee is charged year-round.
Nestled on the west shore of Donner Lake, this 10-acre day-use beach facility offers excellent shaded picnic and BBQ sites for families or groups. While it is not the largest beach in the Tahoe area, it meets all the requirements for a relaxing, sunbathing adventure. There is an entrance fee of $3, and dogs are not allowed. Swimming here is excellent, although the water is cold early summer. Paddleboard, kayak, and jet ski rentals are adjacent to the beach. Donner Lake also offers PUBLIC DOCKS, which you will drive past on your way to West End. These docks are a secluded alternative to the busy beaches.
The beach is located 2.5 miles south of Sand Harbor right off of Highway 28 (about six miles south of Incline Village, Nevada). There are two parking lots – one Forest Service parking lot is .25 miles south of Thunderbird Lodge, on the west side (right if you are traveling from the hotel) of Highway 28. The second is a more obvious parking lot which is an additional .25 miles south and is named—Secret Harbor Parking Lot in google maps. Parking is free at both parking locations, but overnight camping is not allowed. The 2nd parking area provides restrooms. There are signs marking the trail to the beach near the parking lot restrooms leading you down to the lake. The trail goes straight down from the parking lot and curves back when you get closer to the Lake Tahoe shoreline. You will spot the chimney as you get closer to the beachfront and is near impossible to miss. The hike down is steep but beautiful as you make your way through eroded, forest covered, cliff areas, which provide splendid views of Lake Tahoe. The Beach parking is approx. 35 minutes from the hotel.
Turn right out of the hotel onto Old Brockway Road. Travel on Old Brockway until you come to Highway 267, turn right onto 267. Travel on 267 until it dead ends in Kings beach at highway 28. Turn left on 28 and look for the recreation area’s entrance on the right. If you wish to park for free, you can park on the street in any open parking space or do road parking in the residential streets parallel to the water.
To access the beach, one can park at the Tunnel Creek parking lot off of highway 28, and then walk the “East Shore Trail” (bikes are welcome) for 3.3 miles. You will pass Hidden Beach on the way. The path itself is a great outdoor activity as visitors enjoy unprecedented views of Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe National Forest. If one wishes to skip the walk and drive to Sand Harbor, simply drive past the Tunnel Creek parking on Highway 28 for approx. 3.2 miles until you see the Sand Harbor entrance on your right. Parking does cost year-round and varies on cost based on time of year.
From the North Shore take Hwy. 89 south all the way passed Emerald Bay. After the Mt. Tallac turnoff on your right, look for the “Tallac” historic site on your left. Turn onto Heritage Way and then left again onto Tallac Rd. Follow Tallac Rd, which ends in a small parking lot. If this parking lot is full, you would have to drive back to 89 and park along the road and walk in. From the parking lot walk left towards the beach.
Turn left out of the hotel onto Old Brockway Road. Continue on Old Brockway Road and turn left on West River Street. Travel on West River Street until it ends at highway 89. Turn left onto Highway 89 South. Stay on 89 South for approx. 22 miles and turn left onto CA State Park Road. Stay on this road until you see the park entrance on the left.
From the hotel, turn left out of our driveway onto Old Brockway Rd. Continue on Old Brockway and turn left on West River Street in Truckee. Travel on West River Street until it dead ends on highway 89. Turn left (you will be traveling south). Stay on 89 south and when you reach the first roundabout, turn right (the 1st exit), then continue until the next traffic circle. Also take a right here—or the 1st exit. Then continue on 89 for 16 miles and the state park entry is on the left. There are signs. If day use parking is full you can park on the road, however this would be approx. 3-mile hike down to the beaches.