When looking for a place to try the sport of “SUP” or standup paddleboarding, Tahoe is always on the top ten list. Why? For starters, the scenery is dramatic. How many easy access lakes do you know of that are entirely surrounded by mountains? Combine that with a region that averages 300+ days of sunshine a year and temperatures averaging in the mid-70’s all summer long, and you got yourself a perfect paddling destination. Now that we’ve got you hooked on the idea of paddleboarding Tahoe, here’s a few tips on where to go, when to go, and even who to rent from.
Now a bit of a reality check. Within that consistent sunshine lurks a few dangers that everyone must be aware of. For example, nearly every afternoon the “Washoe Zephyr” winds pick up similar to the trade winds on a tropical island. These create challenging conditions and can leave you stranded in a place you don’t want to be. For a full run-down on how to prepare for all Tahoe has to throw at you during the summer months, be sure to read our article: Understanding Lake Tahoe Weather In June, July, And August.
Where To Start
If it’s your first-time paddleboarding Tahoe, we suggest starting small and picking a trailhead that has an easy access point with a sandy beach, and wayfinding signage with a mapped paddle route so you can easily plan an out-and-back paddle. For ample parking and easy access from South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado Beach at Lakeview Commons is where it’s at.
On the west shore, Meeks Bay is the ideal spot to find your balance and hit the water since it offers a bit more protection from the challenging winds. Or if you’re staying in Tahoe City, just stroll over to Commons Beach which is right smack dab in the center of town and rent your gear on the beach from Tahoe City Kayaks & Paddleboards.
For a north shore option, head to Kings Beach and enter at Raccoon Street to find the 10-mile mapped paddle route on the trailhead signage. This popular sandy beach is surrounded by a fun mix of local shops so you can experience the mountain culture alongside the paddling fun.
Paddleboard Rental Places
Tahoe’s waters are home to a very fragile eco-system featuring native plants and species such as the Tahoe Yellow Cress. To ensure Tahoe’s famous crystal-clear waters stay that way, we ALL need to protect it from Aquatic Invasive Species. Leave the worry at home by renting a standup paddleboard from a local shop. Check out our Tahoe Paddle Shop page to find out where each one is located – some even on the beach – so you can plan ahead.
Find Your Way With Mapped Paddle Routes
This is only a small sampling of the 20 Lake Tahoe Water Trailheads you can use to access the lake for your paddling adventure. To make it even easier, we suggest heading over to our Day Trip section. Here you’ll find 7 mapped paddle routes for out-and-back paddles from one beach or point-to-point excursions that connect several beaches. Each Day Trip map is printable, provides mileage and trailheads, and even what kind of amenities are available at every access site. Or better yet, buy yourself a Lake Tahoe Water Trail Map & Access Guide. It’s waterproof and includes the 7 Day Trip Maps, and a great souvenir to bring back home with you so you can start planning your next paddle adventure!
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.