Frequently Asked Questions about the Lake Tahoe Water Trail

Do I have to go to a Tahoe Boat Inspection Station before I launch my kayak or paddle board to prevent spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)?

If you have been in an AIS-infected water body, yes, absolutely – to be 100% sure.  However, if you only paddle in Lake Tahoe and you habitually Clean, Drain and Dry every time you paddle, and especially between waterbodies like Fallen Leaf Lake and Spooner, you do not.

If you are unsure or worried, you have options:

1. Rent from a Tahoe paddle shop or outfitter. Make it easy.

2.  Visit one of our 4 Tahoe Boat Inspection Stations – Meyers, Alpine Meadows, Truckee and Spooner Summit – to get your gear decontaminated for free.

Tahoe Keepers

Protect your favorite place. Protect your favorite pastime.

3.  Learn how to self inspect and decontaminate your gear by becoming a Tahoe Keeper. It’s easy,  It’s free.  And, it matters.  You should know how to Clean, Drain and Dry every time regardless of where you live.

Non-motorized users are required to purchase a Nevada AIS decal if you plan to enter Nevada waters. For more information on the requirements and to purchase your Nevada AIS decal, visit Nevada Department of Wildlife.

How can I get on the Lake Tahoe Water Trail?   

The easiest access points are at developed public beaches with adequate parking and restrooms available. You can find public launch and landing sites here, and be sure to purchase a Lake Tahoe Water Trail Map & Guide at our local paddle shops and outfitters.

How can I paddle around the Lake?   

Paddling completely around Lake Tahoe is popular, but involves challenging conditions and should be planned carefully. The entire trip is approximately 72 miles and no legal overnight camping is allowed between the Lake Forest Campground at Pomin Park on the northwest shore and Zephyr Cove Resort on the southeast shore – a paddle distance of approximately 35 miles. The Lake Tahoe Water Trail Team recommends a circumnavigation beginning and ending at Sand Harbor State Park. Paddling either west or south from that point requires a 15+ mile day to the nearest campground.  Paddling with a stay at a lakeside lodge can reduce this distance. You can find more information about Overnight Trips on the Lake Tahoe Water Trail  here.

Where can I leave my car for an overnight trip on the Lake Tahoe Water Trail?  

No overnight parking is allowed at public beaches, public side streets or highways. None of the public beaches allow overnight parking.  Public streets and highways near public beaches have length of stay limits as well.  Outside of peak visitation periods, many lakeside hotels allow you to leave a car for a few days at their site if you start your trip with an overnight stay. Some public campgrounds can accommodate a limited amount of overnight parking as well. Always make arrangements in advance and do not leave valuables in the vehicle.

 Is the Lake Tahoe Water Trail for stand-up paddleboards?   

Yes! Paddle boarders and all non-motorized enthusiasts are encouraged to use the Lake Tahoe Water Trail maps to find designated launch/landing sites with facilities, parking or shuttle services, and planned routes based on your ability.

 Where can I paddle to get away from motor boats?  

The busiest times are during the middle part of the day between July 4th and Labor Day and near large marinas or busy public boat launches. These conditions require paddlers to take special care that motor boat operators can see them in the water (paddle with white paddles and brightly colored boats/boards and paddle in groups). Paddlers should also be aware of navigational channels around marinas and buoy fields. The best way to paddle in uncrowded conditions is to paddle early or late in the day, or during May-June or September-October. These times will offer the kind of quiet solitude most paddlers are seeking. Less crowded shorelines exist on the east shore and the South/southwest shores.

 Can I land anywhere on the shoreline at Lake Tahoe? 

No.  This is a complicated issue at Lake Tahoe. In areas where private residences are built along the shoreline, property owners own the land down to the “low water line”. The low water line is the water elevation at the natural rim of Lake Tahoe. A dam at the Truckee River raises the water an extra six feet, however, creating a “high water line” during periods when the Lake Tahoe reservoir is full. In California, legal practice establishes a public trust easement on the land between the “high water” and “low water” lines where public access is allowed. Nevada does not recognize this public trust area and access along these beaches is subject to approval by owners.

If you choose to land within the public trust easement area in California, please remember that the land is actually owned by the adjacent landowner and be respectful of their privacy. Practice Leave No Trace principles and show courtesy and respect to other users in the area.

Can I camp anywhere on the shoreline at Lake Tahoe?

No.  Camping is only allowed at designated campgrounds in order to protect our precious resources. For a list of campgrounds, please visit our Overnight Trips page, use the free Tahoe Beach App, and the USFS LTBMU campground page.

Thank you and Happy Trails!