As San Franciscans, we've all been to Tahoe—skiing in the winter, Truckee River in the summer, and all kinds of adventures in between. As the snow melts and more trails open up, it’s the perfect time to pack the car, head east, and do some hiking around our favorite crystal blue lake.
You’ve probably seen photos of Bonsai Rock before, and it’s high time you checked it out for yourself. Located on the east side of Lake Tahoe just south of Sand Harbor, you’ll park at one of several pullouts along the road and follow a small trail down to the water. Bonsai Rock is enclosed next to the shoreline in a way that makes it perfect for a scenic sunset picnic or site for some long-exposure photography. Learn more.
Insider Tip: This is a great scenic spot yearround. Go in the winter for a background of snow-capped Sierras, and in the summer, for low tides that expose white sand and crystal-clear blue water.
Antsy to get out of the car before you’ve even hit Tahoe? (We hear you.) An hour east of Sacramento, the Jenkinson Lake Loop Trail takes you on an easy and relatively flat eight-mile loop around the lake. You’ll see people doing everything from fishing and kayaking to swimming and picnicking along the way, so pay your $11 day entrance fee and take your pick of activities. Learn more.
Insider Tip: To check out the 33-foot tall Park Creek Waterfall, take the left turn along the trail (not the Park Creek Bridge trail) and continue on about 200 yards.
Backpacking novice? This 12-mile round trip hike takes you out to Lake Aloha in the Desolation Wilderness and is great for newcomers. You’ll start at the Echo Lake trailhead just off Highway 50 in Lake Tahoe, and you’ll meander past the Upper and Lower Echo Lakes as you gain altitude. You’ll definitely feel the 1000-foot climb, but it’ll be over before you know it. Choose one of the many camping spots around Lake Aloha, stay the night, and take in the amazing sunrise over the Crystal Range the next morning. Learn more.
Insider Tip: It can get very windy and cold at night around the basin. Bring lots of warm clothes and a good sleeping bag.
Located just off Highway 89, Eagle Falls Trail is a short, easy hike that will take you through some of Tahoe’s most beautiful scenery. Over the course of the two-mile round trip hike, you’ll see lush greenery, lots of trees, and gorgeous cascading waterfalls. If you want to experience Tahoe right but aren’t up for a strenuous hike, Eagle Falls is for you. Learn more.
Insider Tip: Bring your camera. For the relatively short distance you’ve traveled, the views from the top are pretty spectacular.
We’ve all heard of the infamous Donner party, but maybe haven’t yet made a visit to the actual lake bearing its name. Before you hit Tahoe, park at the Donner Lake and Memorial State Park Visitor Center and walk west toward the lake, where you’ll follow a 3.5-mile trail that loops around the water. It’s an easy, beautiful hike and a great way to stretch your legs on your way into or out of Tahoe. Learn more.
Insider Tip: Stop in at the museum before or after your hike to learn more about the Donner Party, the transcontinental railroad, and the local Native Americans.
For more activities, from tubing and golfing to shopping and beer-drinking, don't miss our 50 Things to Do in Tahoe This Summer!