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Posts Tagged ‘what to do in tahoe’

Colorful Tahoe: 5 Awesome Things To Do In Tahoe During Autumn

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

This blog comes from Scott Johns, an adventure cinematographer, mountain biker and snowboarder living in Incline Village on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. When Scott’s not creating beautiful imagery for video, he’s out ripping singletrack or shredding big lines in his backyard that we call the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Find more of Scott’s work at


A quick explosion of color followed by a thick blanket of snow. That’s how fall goes in Tahoe. When we get the winters we hope for, that is. The first part of the equation is already under way. Here are my top five things to do in Tahoe during fall. Other than snow dancing, of course.

1) Sierra Nevada Color Safari

Since we only get one chance at this each year, it’s first on our list. Tahoe is all about breathtaking scenery, and fall is no exception. Arguably the most beautiful time of year, here are some of the best places to take it all in. Hike, get great photos or just sit and stare for awhile.

Tahoe Fall Colors:

-Blackwood Canyon, south of Tahoe City on Hwy 89.
– Paige Meadows, near Tahoe City.
– Anywhere near Fallen Leaf Lake/Tallac/Angora Lake.
– Brockway pass along Hwy 267. As the colors peak, you’ll see several painters stationed here, capturing the image on their canvases.

Surrounding Fall Colors:

– Hope Valley, near Carson Pass.
– June Lake, near Mammoth Lakes.
– Aspen groves on the downhill (Hwy 395) from Bridgeport to Mono Lake. Get great views from the highway, or take a short adventure to Travertine Hot Springs.


Not a photography aficionado, but still want to capture the experience with some great images? A professional photographer recently told me that the camera is the least important part of the equation. You don’t need a Nikon D1 to shoot fall colors like a pro. I get great shots with my GoPro HERO3 Black Edition. Use GoPro’s Tripod Mount with the compact Joby Gorillapod Camera Tripod and your crystal clear images will have your friends convinced you are a pro.


2) Mountain Biking Tahoe’s Trails

Summer is great for mountain biking in Tahoe, but fall is better. Trails are less crowded. The scenery becomes even more beautiful. And the occasional rain and cooler temperatures keep the dust down. Biking is my favorite fall activity, by far. So much so that it even saddens me when the snow begins to cover the trails. But only until it’s deep enough to shred.

Spent all summer getting into optimum cycling shape? Here are some killer pedals to conquer, with big payoffs:

– Hole in the Ground, a long loop near Boreal ski area – painful and serene, all at once.
Flume Trail/Rim Trail Loop in reverse, from Spooner to Marlette to the flume – this is the best way to do it. You’ll probably need a cold beer, followed immediately by your bed.
-Rim Trail, Brockway Summit to Mt. Baldy – a demanding climb, but very rewarding. Going the other way from Brockway to Watson Lake is also a fantastic ride, and very hard work.
-The Bench Trail – conquer this one from either side, Spooner or Kingsbury, or get them both in one ride if you’re feeling savage.

Don’t forget your CamelBak bike backpack with lots of water, and an extra layer. You’ll be hot when you’re pedaling, but you’ll want to manage that sweat so it doesn’t turn you into a cyclisticle through the exposed zones and downhills. A spare tube, bike pump and tire levers are also more important during fall, when you are less likely to cross paths with good Samaritans out on the trail.


3) Lake Tahoe Disc Golf

I learned this isn’t just a warm-weather activity two winters ago when mother nature forgot to drop any snow on Tahoe until March. (more…)

Summer In Lake Tahoe – How To Make The Most Of Your Vacation

Friday, June 28th, 2013

stand up paddle sunset tahoe Alright, so you’ve skied the resorts in winter. Have you enjoyed time in Tahoe during summer? As the saying goes in many mountain towns, “Come for winter, stay for summer.” And that’s literally how a good portion, if not the majority of Tahoe residents, landed in these mountains. Snow sports originally attracted most Tahoe locals, but under the white blanket that coats the Eastern Sierras in winter there lies an even more vibrant, valuable treasure. When the snow melts and the trails dry out, the wildflowers bloom and the water warms up. With more daylight to take advantage of, people come out of the woodwork and flock to the beaches and summits surrounding the lake, live music plays into the night, and believe it or not, there is much more to do during summer in Tahoe than there is in the winter. Let me put some ideas on the drawing board for you. From there, it’s up to you to make the most of your time in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

galena falls hiking trail

Taken during a run to Galena Falls near Mt. Rose

Hmm…With so many options, where do I begin? Wondering where to take a hike or bike? Well, just look at a trail map of Tahoe and you’ll quickly realize you not only have countless choices, but that a decision needs to be made. There are so many Tahoe trails for hiking, running or biking that you’ll have to just pick one and stick with it. Chances are you’ll enjoy it, and if for some reason you don’t, you can always pick another! That’s the beauty of living in a place where your neighbors share your passions; a communal, reciprocal relationship between locals helps to keep trails maintained and litter-free. I’m personally a big fan of trail running, and being in Tahoe definitely has it’s advantages. If I jog from my front door I’m rarely on pavement more than a half-mile. From there, it’s all singletrack or 4WD roads leading to gorgeous views, refreshing creek crossings and solitude in the mountains. If I do encounter others on a trail it’s usually a pleasant experience, and I sometimes catch myself smiling as I’m reminded of how friendly people are here. After all, we’re all out to have fun and enjoy the area, and even in passing I can often sense that common-ground. Regardless of the reasoning, whether it be the clean air that replenishes the spirit or the magnificent natural beauty in everything around us, it’s reassuring to know we all share similar ideals.

mountain biking trails lake tahoe

Yep, TMS carries adventure medical kits!

Since we’re talkin’ trails here, I can’t neglect all the classic mountain bike trails in the area. For those who are into downhill mountain biking and want lift-accessed trails, Northstar Resort will take you to the top so you can ride down without the uphill exercise. I can’t blame you – downhill bikes are heavy! For cross-country riders, there are so many trails I don’t even know where to begin. Most of the singletrack trails in the region are for both hikers and bikers, but if you’re hiking uphill be sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled for downhill racers. ‘Right of way’ can be an ambiguous term on multi-use trails. The Flume Trail is probably the most popular bike ride in the area, and for good reason. It combines all features of the Tahoe Basin in one ride – winding through pine forests, climbing over dirt and granite, majestic views of the lake and mountains, and a killer workout. Oh, and a dip in the water at Chimney Beach! You can venture off the trail when you reach the east side of Lake Tahoe and hike down to Chimney Beach, a beautiful place to enjoy lunch and take a dip in the lake to cool off before returning to the saddle.

speedboat beach summer

Speedboat Beach, North Shore

Ahh, the beach. The beautiful beach. A white-sand beach surrounds a monstrous lake nestled in the Eastern Sierra Mountains, and you can find your own private stretch of lakefront shoreline depending on how hard you search. On a weekday this can be an easy feat. Weekends, think again. But that’s not to say it feels too crowded! So much fun can be had on the beach in Tahoe, and much of that can be credited to the people sharing your strip of sand. Moon Dunes is a popular local hang out, but only for convenience. Kings Beach has a long stretch of sand that fills up fast come mid-day, but I often find myself alone on morning jogs, even as late as 9 a.m.! One of the most beautiful beaches in North Lake is Speedboat Beach (pictured here), so be sure to hang there if you get the chance. On the eastern shore, the most recommended beach is Sand Harbor. Many people recognize the boulders that line the shore, and there is a great park and facilities to accommodate visitors. You can even (more…)

I Freakin’ Love This Place – Outdoor Recreation In North Lake Tahoe

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I live in Kings Beach, California. I freakin’ love it here. There are so many options for fun and adventure. I do web content and marketing work at Tahoe Mountain Sports, and I freakin’ love it there, too. Working in such a beautiful place with so many opportunities for outdoor recreation is a luxury I hope I never, ever, ever take for granted. Working in the outdoor industry is a big bonus, as I have knowledge of, and access to, top-tier outdoor equipment, making it easier to get out and explore the greater Tahoe region at my leisure.

stand up paddle board

Cruisin’ the lake.


Tahoe is a magical place. I just had two days off work, and I want to explain how many awesome things I was able to do during those two days. Well, since the following events began Saturday evening when I got off work, make that two days and a night. I also want to thank Tahoe Mountain Sports for letting me take several pieces of demo equipment along with for the ride(s).

WARNING: This blog is about a butt-load of awesome outdoor gear and how much fun I have with it. It is ‘hyperlink-heavy’ because everyone should be able to benefit from great gear. Simply don’t click the links if you don’t want to be distracted from the story.

First, when I got off work Saturday at 6:30 I rode my bike across the street to the beach and got on a stand up paddleboard. As soon as I took a few strokes and was gliding across the surface of the lake my mind felt at ease and much of my stress left my body. As I coasted along inspecting the random treasures visible through clear blue water on the lake bottom, I noticed I was the only soul on the water as far as my eyes could see. Paddling is a very tranquil way to enjoy nature and simultaneously cleanse the spirit.

Then we raced over to Alpine Meadows Road and found the trailhead for Five Lakes. It’s up between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts, and only a bit over two miles uphill to a beautiful granite and pine setting with tolerable swimming temps and great views of the Granite Chief Wilderness. We sat around the fire that night with dinner, s’mores and a good Shiraz.

snow peak trekker kit

Breakfast and coffee with a view.

I also got to use my Snow Peak Trekker Kit, which includes a Gigapower stove and Trek 1400 cookest. They’re all incredibly lightweight and the stove boils water in 3-4 minutes. I’ve been waiting to get this stove for a while now, and was stoked to finally try it out myself. The next morning we sat on a Thermarest Z-Lite sleeping pad and enjoyed coffee from a rock overlooking the lake. Then I called dad and wished him ‘Happy Father’s Day’ – love you, dad! We took a dip in the lake, filtered drinking water with my Katadyn Hiker water filter, which took half the advertised time to filter one liter (34 seconds, 60 pumps), and went for a beautiful trail run among the wildflowers out toward Barker Pass.

It was hot and dry up there, so I was stoked for my Platypus soft water bottle. I like how portable and packable it is. It’s great for trail running, and easily fits in a jacket pocket so I’m also excited to try it backcountry skiing this winter. On this overnight trip I got away with only packing the 1-liter soft bottle, and used my fast-acting filter for refills. That saved me the weight of a hard water bottle and excess water.

platypus soft water bottle

Saw a Platypus in a creek along the Pacific Crest Trail.

After the overnight camping trip and day hike / trail run I met some friends at Moon Dunes, a local beach on Lake Tahoe’s north shore. We threw discs on the beach and drank a few cold cans of Tecate, then went to Tahoe City for some shuffleboard at Pete N’ Peter’s followed by a delicious Hop Song IPA at Tahoe Mountain Brewery. I’m an IPA kind of guy, and I’ll tell you what – this was a good beer. My buddy Eric had their Hop Dragon Double IPA, but at 9.5% it was a bit strong for me at the particular moment. Still, I had a couple sips and it was fantastic! Perfectly balanced, robust yet well-balanced hops a smooth finish. Both of our beers exceeded our expectations (I’ve only been in Tahoe for nine months).

The next morning I went for a trail run from the top of Mt. Rose Summit. I’m trying out lightweight overnight backpacks for a fastpacking trip coming up in mid-July. We’ll be running around Evolution Basin near Bishop, CA, and I need a good bag I can cover lots of ground with that will wear comfortably and hold enough supplies for a few days on end. This particular evening I took a Boreas Muir Woods 30 pack for a test run out to Galena Falls. I’d prefer it a little less rigid for fastpacking, but it may end up working out in the end. It’s a great pack, and I understand that it’s a bit stiffer so it can carry more weight and remain stable when doing stuff like whipping around turns on a mountain bike. We’ll see…I still have some time to figure all that out.

That afternoon I met a buddy for a bike ride in the wicked-awesome network of singletrack trails behind Kings Beach. (more…)

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