It’s summer which means aquaphiles are descending upon the gorgeous beaches surrounding one of the greatest alpine lakes in the world… Lake Tahoe. For those looking for some peace & solitude on the waters, look no further than hopping into a kayak, canoe or on a stand up paddleboard! To help you out, here’s a beginner’s guide to the Lake Tahoe Water Trail.
You Don’t Need To Be A Pro To Enjoy The Trail
Just like skiing, mountain biking, or any other “X-Games” activity, the reputation of kayaking being for extreme athletes only is totally false. With some basic common sense, rookies & novices alike can enjoy the thrill of paddling on the Lake Tahoe Water Trail.
Start Small & Take A Tour
With that being said, Lake Tahoe is still a BIG lake with over 72 miles of shoreline. Picking a route short enough that you won’t feel overwhelmed is key. If it’s your first time on the water, we recommend taking a guided tour. Besides giving you tips on making sure your paddling technique is top notch, they’ll also offer up a local’s knowledge of ecology, geology, as well as natural & human history along the way.
Here’s a sampling of the tour operators available on the Lake Tahoe Water Trail:
Based in South Lake Tahoe, Kayak Tahoe offers up a chance for you to get an up close & personal view of the legendary Emerald Bay that most would never experience. And for those looking for a smaller jaunt with a bit more wildlife, consider their Upper Truckee River tour.
Tahoe City Kayak
The west shore of Lake Tahoe is home to the most clear and calm waters on the lake. As winds funnel over the “crest” of the Sierra Nevada, they typically skip the western shore, instead touching down at mid-lake. A trusted name for over 17 years, Tahoe City Kayak provides an assortment of tours including ones to Sand Harbor on the east shore near Incline Village as well as a sunset tour on the west shore.
Tahoe Watermans Landing
Feel like trying the new & exciting sport of stand up paddleboarding or SUP for short? Take advantage of owners Anik Demers and Jay Wild’s passion for paddle sports & their many years of experience by taking a class with Tahoe Watermans Landing. Besides stand up paddleboarding, they also offer classes in kayaking, SUP yoga & even paddling an outrigger canoe.
For The Do-It Yourselfers
For those that have a bit more confidence or paddling experience under their belts, here’s a few more shops to consider. They don’t provide tours, but they will make sure you’re outfitted appropriately for the water.
West Shore Sports
If you’re near Homewood, check out West Shore Sports. Launching conveniently out of three locations – Obexer’s Boat Company, Sugar Pine Point State Park, and just north of Sunnyside Marina – you have an assortment of options of where to start and finish. They’ll provide some basic instruction & plan a route that will fit your crew perfectly.
Tahoe Sports LTD
Tahoe Sports LTD has always been the south shore shop, covering all your basic outdoor excursion needs. From biking to skiing to disc golf and of course paddlesports, their water lineup includes everything from kayaks & canoes to paddleboards and even inflatable options. They’ll have you geared up and out on the water in a jiffy.
Own your equipment and consider yourself a seadog? Be sure to take a close look at out our day-trip page to plan the perfect day out on the water. And last but not least, don’t forget your map! However you enjoy paddling the Lake Tahoe Water Trail, be sure to pick up a copy of the Lake Tahoe Water Trail Map & Access guide.
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.