White sands. Turquoise blue. Crystal clear waters. If that’s what you’re looking for then Baldwin Beach is the spot to start. Geographically speaking, Pope, Kiva, and Baldwin Beaches are one long stretch of sand but each has its own personality. Kiva is for dog owners. Pope is for family fun. And Baldwin is the premier spot to shove off and paddle to Emerald Bay.
Paddling Baldwin Beach
The south shore of Lake Tahoe is an area of contrasts. You have the casino corridor near the California/Nevada border providing some of the best nightlife and entertainment opportunities in the basin. While only a few miles west of it is an area home to some of the most diverse wildlife habitat. Bald eagles and osprey nest along the shoreline. Taylor Creek provides a critical marsh that gives species of birds and wildlife a place to live including an impressive location of spawning Kokanee Salmon in the fall. And, this area also gives you a glimpse into how the wealthy summered in the early 20th century.
Two Out-And-Back Day Trip Paddles
Just like Cave Rock, if this is your first sojourn on a kayak, this paddle may not be the adventure you should take. First, it’s approximately two miles one-way just to the opening of the bay and at least another mile to Fannette Island. Second, this is a VERY popular spot for motorized craft and tour boats meaning choppy waters and congestion. If this isn’t your first water “rodeo” and you do try this adventure, keep your head on a swivel. With that being said, paddling to Emerald Bay is a great option for experienced paddlers. You’ll get up close and personal with attractions like Eagle Creek with its roaring waterfalls. Feel tiny in the water with the towering mountains cupping the bay and Fannette Island standing proudly in the center.
A better option for your first attempt at paddling on Lake Tahoe is to visit Camp Richardson. Just shy of one and a half miles, this will provide an opportunity to take in the gorgeous beauty of the south shore of Lake Tahoe. Once you arrive, you’ll have access to an amenity rich historic summer resort. Everything from an old-fashioned ice cream shop to what is considered the best restaurant with a view – Beacon Bar & Grill. The best part is if you’re not up to getting to Camp Rich, you can stop at Kiva Beach instead and paddle back from there.
For a full write-up, head over to our day trips section and download the .pdf around Emerald Bay. Or better yet, pick up a copy of our Lake Tahoe Water Trail Map & Access Guide.
Looking for more about the Tallac Historic Site or Emerald Bay? Be sure to check out the Sierra Nevada Geotourism website which includes such things as a detailed write-up about Tallac Historic Site, museums, & even hiking ideas.
And of course, Heads UP! Be sure to wear a life jacket!
The Lake Tahoe Water Trail is a Sierra Business Council sustainable recreation tourism project. Learn more about SBC's innovative social, environmental and economic development projects in the Sierra Nevada at www.sierrabusiness.org.