If paddling on Lake Tahoe with your canoe or kayaks has been in your plans this year it’s time to do it. Paddling on Tahoe is something that should be on your list of things to do each year, or at least once in your time here.
Going now is important because the available places to launch your canoe or kayaks starts to get limited at this time of year. The state and federal beaches in the Tahoe Basin start shutting down in October. Sometime between now and about the third week of October, most of them will close.
The best paddling to be had on the lake is on the West Shore, and the western side of South Shore. The shore here has quite a few nice places to put in. No matter where you intend to float your boat, you will be hauling it over a much larger beach due to the low level of the lake.
The first two places that offer a decent paddle are Pope Beach and Baldwin Beach. Pope is the first beach you come to on Highway 89 as you head north. Paddling here gives you the opportunity to head towards Tahoe Keys and the big beaches on the South Shore. Head north and you will paddle past the Tallac Historic Estates. Either way is a good way.
The next spot is Baldwin Beach, the last public beach before you head up to Emerald Bay. Launching here gives you the opportunity to paddle over to Emerald Bay if you head north. It is a nice paddle with some good shoreline to gaze at as you head over there.
When you get to the entrance to Emerald Bay it’s important to be very alert, as power boats head in here all the time. You also need to know that the narrow entry to Emerald Bay has very squirrely currents. Just be prepared to get pushed around a bit. Once there though it’s a great place to explore.
The next spot along the way is D. L. Bliss State Park, just past Emerald Bay. They will stay open on a day by day basis from mid to late October. The day use parking at the beach is very limited, and getting there early, even during the uncrowded shoulder season is important.
Head south to paddle past amazing rocks, in and out of the water. Paddle far enough and you will be at Emerald Bay. Paddle north and you get to drool over some rather nice older and newer estates on the lake.
The next, and last spots that are relatively close in, are Meeks Bay State Campground and Meeks Bay Resort. These places are right next to each other. It makes no difference which one you choose, as they might as well just be one big beach.
The beauty here is that you will quickly be able to paddle past a stunning bit of lakeside Tahoe. Head south and paddle across Rubicon Bay, and take note of how it’s populated with a ton of lakeside houses, to Bliss State Park. Paddling across Rubicon Bay gives you a changing palette of lake color due to the varying depths of the bay.
Paddle north for a different experience. Out of Meeks Bay, past a few houses, and then past the last one which you can hardly see tucked into the trees. From here until you get to the Erhman Mansion at Sugar Pine State Park, there is simply an undeveloped shoreline.
The reason is that as soon as you pass that last house, you are at the south fence of Sugar Pine State Park. Here, and once you paddle past General Creek on the north side of the mansion grounds, is what the Tahoe shore looked like before all of our immigrant ancestors showed up. It’s simply stunning. Find a place to beach your boat and enjoy a very different kind of Tahoe.
All of these places will be closing soon. You next opportunity to launch from these close in spots will come when they open again next spring. Go now. It’s worth it.