Accessible from the western side of Lake Tahoe are miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy paved paths to long day hikes in the Desolation Wilderness and glorious high mountain lakes and scenery. Pack your infant in a baby backpack, hike hand-in-hand with toddlers, or if you have bigger kids, they can run up the trail faster than their parents. There's no end to the hiking possibilities, but it's also very popular in summer, so go early in the day to obtain parking at the trailheads, and to miss the crowds.
Here's just two hikes in western Lake Tahoe:
Eagle Falls/Eagle Lake
- At Emerald Bay, park at the Eagle Falls picnic area. A short trail takes you to Eagle Falls (very dramatic in early summer), but don't stop at the falls, keep going up to the "vista loop" for great views of Emerald Bay, or up to Eagle Lake. For older kids, plan a full day expedition, and hike up to the Velma Lakes, ten miles round trip. Wilderness permits are required for day hikes to Eagle Lake or Velma Lakes, just fill out the form at the parking lot.
Vikingsholm and Emerald Bay
- This is one of the most popular hikes, 500 ft down from the road to Emerald Bay. Not a path, this is an easy wide road, and you could bring a stroller, but just remember you have to come back up. At Emerald Bay, there's a lovely sandy beach, and picnic tables, views of magical Fannette Island, and the crystal clear waters of the cove. Also, hike over to see Lower Eagle Falls tumbling into the lake. In summer, definitely go early to avoid crowds and the heat of the day, and be sure to bring water along.
Tahoe Maritime Museum
- This museum is all about boats on Lake Tahoe, from the Shanghai, a launch from the 1890's, dredged up from the bottom of the lake, to a displays of early steam ships and collections of beautiful water craft - runabouts and hydroplanes that used to race on Lake Tahoe, plus a children's activity room where kids can learn about building boats.
- Bike up and down the paved Tahoe Trailways Bike Path that goes in either direction along the lake from Homewood. If you want a longer bike ride, head south into Sugar Pine Point State Park, and take the General Creek Loop that goes through the forest and along the stream. West Shore Sports has bikes for rent - kids' bikes, trail bikes with three wheels, and trailers to hold little kids, and rentals include helmets and trail maps.
- It's an unforgettable experience to kayak on Lake Tahoe, the water is just so clear! Along with the usual two person kayaks are also pedal kayaks available for rent at West Shore Sports. Explore the lake in a slow and leisurely fashion, in the shallow spots it's easy to see the lake bottom.