Lake Tahoe Water Trail Trailhead Spotlight: Sand Harbor

lake tahoe water trail trailhead sand harbor

The east shore of Lake Tahoe in one word: boulders. Compared to the other segments of the lake, this is by far the most rocky AND remote. A huge thanks to Captain George Whittell Jr., who back in the 1930’s helped make most of this area’s shoreline publicly owned, allowing us all to enjoy it. Our first Lake Tahoe Water Trail Trailhead spotlight dives into: Sand Harbor.

Paddling Sand Harbor

lake tahoe water trail trailhead sand harbor
Lake Tahoe Water Trail Trailhead at Sand Harbor

If you’ve ever seen a jaw dropping image of someone paddling or kayaking through aqua colored water, reminiscent of the Caribbean surrounded by smooth granite boulders, then you’ve seen Sand Harbor. Be aware… the Sand Harbor parking lot fills up fast in the summer. Either come early (before 8 a.m.) or better yet, visit during the fall shoulder season or as residents like to call it, “the local’s summer.” The air and water are still warm, but the amount of people visiting has reduced to a trickle.

sand harbor lake tahoe water trail day trip paddle mapTwo Out-And-Back Day Trip Paddles

Memorial Point

Details: Landing Only – No Launching Allowed At This Site

For those who truly want to experience the “Jewel Of The Sierra” and all its beauty, heading north about 1 mile to Memorial Point is a must. Experiencing it from the water is a whole other dimension from the highway above. You’ll get an up close view of the variations in water color & the large granite boulders framing Lake Tahoe’s shoreline. Note: Due to wind-generated waves and unlevel, boulder-bound shore, this is a spot you’d only want to land your kayak or paddleboard at if the water is at average to low water conditions.

Hidden Beach

Details: Landing Only – No Launching Allowed At This Site

Undeveloped. Pack it in, Pack it out – Also watch your step. Tahoe Yellow Cress is in the area!

For those looking for sun, fun, & great views, look no further than Hidden Beach, about 2 miles north of Sand Harbor. As the name dictates, this little piece of sand is truly hidden in plain sight. As drivers whisk by on the highway above, unbeknownst to them there is a 750 foot long stretch of sand with rocky alcoves and plenty of adjacent boulder shoreline to enjoy the summer vibes.

This is only a taste of the day trip options surrounding Sand Harbor. For a full write-up, head over to our day trips section and download the .pdf around Sand Harbor. Or better yet, pick up a copy of our waterproof Lake Tahoe Water Trail Map & Access Guide.

Get Out Early & Check Wind And Weather Conditions

Particularly in this part of the lake, the prevalent south/southwest winds can get fierce in the afternoon. Since the Sand Harbor area is an undeveloped, rugged, rocky shoreline, there are very limited opportunities to get off the water in adverse conditions. Plan ahead for water safety. The best choice is to check the wind and weather conditions, and if all looks good, leave and come back early. As always, we recommend stopping by one of the local paddle shops to get the beta on the conditions on the lake or take a guided tour.

Want more San Harbor fun? Check out locally recommended nearby activities on the Sierra Nevada Geotourism website – Sierra Nevada Geotourism at Sand Harbor.



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.

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