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FAQs

If you find any contaminants on your paddle craft or gear – OR – you recently visited infected waters, you MUST go to a Tahoe Boat inspection station for a free decontamination. Learn more at TahoeBoatInspections.com.

Electric watercraft MUST be inspected.

It’s the law.

Every paddle watercraft (including inflatables and electrically modified) must be Cleaned, Drained and Dry before launching at Lake Tahoe and any surrounding lakes and waterways to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) that will ruin Lake Tahoe and paddle sports.

Learn how to self inspect and decontaminate your gear by becoming a Tahoe Keeper. It’s easy, It’s free.

NV AIS Decal Fee Requirement:
If you paddle on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, you are required to purchase a NV AIS Decal at www.ndow.org. Becoming a Tahoe Keeper does not exempt you from purchasing a NV AIS decal that supports the state’s AIS boating education program. California doesn’t have an AIS fee requirement at this time.

The easiest way to access the lake is through the 20 designated “trailheads” located around the lake that include wayfinding signage, parking, facilities and restrooms. You can find these public launch and landing sites on our interactive google map or on the 7 Day Trip maps. Be sure to purchase a Lake Tahoe Water Trail Map & Access Guide at our local paddle shops and lodging properties and visitor centers.

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.

Also, consider filing a Float Plan – before you go. This quick, free tool emails your itinerary to a friend or family member to let them know where you are going, when you are headed out, and when you are due back. Here’s a printable Float Plan to leave in your vehicle.

Paddling completely around Lake Tahoe 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.
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.
Yes! Paddle boarders and all boaters, fishermen, swimmers, and lake users are encouraged to use the Lake Tahoe Water Trail maps to find designated launch/landing sites with facilities and parking. Twenty of the sites are trailheads with wayfinding signage with mapped paddle routes.
Lake Tahoe is a multi-use lake. Paddlers must obey boating navigation rules, boating education laws for both states, wear life jackets and SUP leashes, carry a whistle and white flashlight, and know how to self-rescue in all conditions. 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.

No.  In shoreline areas with private residences, 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.

More than 50% of the shoreline are public lands.  To help you avoid private property, we’ve clearly marked the 37 public launch/landing sites on the Lake Tahoe Water Trail Overview Map and the 7 day trip maps.

The 7 Day Trip Maps include designated launch/landing sites, trailheads, and a paddle route with mileage, campgrounds and facilities.lake-tahoe-water-trail

Our 20 Trailhead launch/landing sites on our Maps page have wayfinding signage with mapped paddle routes, campground, parking and restrooms.

No.  Camping is not allowed anywhere along the shoreline except at developed campgrounds with a reservation – No Exception! Fires are permitted only in developed campgrounds with permanent fire rings. For a list of 13 legal campgrounds, please visit our Overnight Trips page. Instead, consider an overnight stay at a lakefront lodge for sand-free accommodations.

Thank you and Happy Trails!

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Disclaimer

Sierra Business Council and the Lake Tahoe Water Trail Committee and their contributors will be in no way responsible for personal injury or damage to personal property arising in conjunction with the use of this website or printed materials. 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 for the latest lake conditions.

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