Look for the trailhead marker!
There are 20 marked “trailheads” around the lake, indicated by this trailhead marker and signage. You may launch and land your kayak or standup paddle board at these locations.
Tahoe City Day Trips
The Tahoe City area of North Shore offers good paddling for a range of ability levels and access to natural and cultural resources from area beaches. Tour the historic Gatekeeper’s Museum at Lake Tahoe’s outlet at the Truckee River or explore the newly restored Barton Creek outfall in Lake Forest (where you may see the endangered Lake Tahoe fish, the Lahontan cutthroat trout). Stop at Commons Beach and stroll Tahoe City or take in a free summer Sunday concert.
North Shore Day Trips
The North Shore of Lake Tahoe offers good paddling for all ability levels. Multiple public launch and landing sites exist with on-site amenities. Land in Kings Beach and enjoy the shopping and restaurants along the highway or in Tahoe Vista for lunch or a visit to an art gallery. Several cafes and restaurants in Carnelian Bay also offer lunch or cocktails on the deck. If you’re on an overnight paddle, consider staying at one of the many lakefront lodges in the area.
Sand Harbor Day Trips
From Sand Harbor, paddlers access the remote and rocky shoreline of Lake Tahoe. Most of Tahoe’s East Shore in this area is publicly owned and small inlets offer just enough beach to land for a quiet picnic lunch. Your favorite iconic photograph of a kayak or paddleboard floating in the crystal clear water above a rocky lakebed was probably taken in this area. The only launch site shown on this map is at Sand Harbor and the parking lot fills up fast during the summer; plan to launch before 10 am so you can spend the day. Support facilities are limited in this area, so practice good trail etiquette for waste products and do not light any fires. No camping outside developed campgrounds. Always wear your life jacket and SUP leash, carry a flashlight and whistle, and check conditions before you head out.
Cave Rock Day Trips
The Cave Rock area of Lake Tahoe’s East Shore offers good paddling for all ability levels and the chance to paddle close to a rugged shoreline. Pine trees perched in a field of jumbled boulders and small inlets ringed with willows create an iconic picture of paddling on Lake Tahoe. This shoreline offers fantastic views, but not many public beaches to land on, so plan a day trip when launching from this area. The Cave Rock Boat Launch parking area fills early during the peak season; plan an early morning launch for paddling this part of the East Shore.
South Shore Day Trips
South Lake Tahoe offers good paddling for all ability levels along endless miles of sandy beaches. Stay at the historic resorts at Zephyr Cove or Camp Richardson, visit the Tallac Historic site, hike or bike a nearby trail, enjoy bird watching in wetland sanctuaries, picnic on the beach, or stop at a lakeside bistro; all accessed easily from the water. Always wear your life jacket and SUP leash, carry a flashlight and whistle, and check conditions before you head out.
Emerald Bay Day Trips
Emerald Bay is one of the most photographed spots on earth and is the jewel of Lake Tahoe. Paddle close to towering mountains, Eagle Creek with its waterfalls, and the historic Vikingsholm castle. Emerald Bay is an excellent place to bird watch. Be on the lookout for bald eagles and osprey soaring above. Three launch sites are within 3 miles both north and south. A popular destination for commercial tour boats and motorized watercraft, conditions during the peak mid-day summer season are often congested and the water choppy.
West Shore Day Trips
The West Shore of Lake Tahoe offers good paddling for a range of ability levels and a diversity of natural and cultural resource paddling opportunities. Land your boat at Kaspian Beach and take a short hike to the top of Eagle Rock. Or paddle along Sugar Pine Point State Park to watch the birds or tour the historic Ehrman Mansion. Planning an overnight trip? Stop at Meeks Bay where lakeside campgrounds and cabins offer a great place to rest.
Disclaimer: Sierra Business Council and its contributors will be in no way responsible for personal injury or damage to personal property arising in conjunction with the use of this website, and Water Trail printed or Google maps. Good judgment and planning are critical to any successful outing. Before heading out on the water, it is recommended that you check with other sources of information such as local paddling shops, outdoor stores, marinas, U.S. Coast Guard, and land managers for the latest conditions.