Though too cold to swim, spring is perfect for paddling
May 7, 2013
With Lake Tahoe's temperature hovering around 40 degrees, it's a little too cold to spend much time in the water. But with the sun out and little wind, spring is a fine time to paddle around on the water. Here's a few of Lake Tahoe's premier spring paddling spots.
Taylor Creek Marsh, South Lake Tahoe
This Tahoe tributary is a fine place to explore by board or kayak. The nearby bald eagle sanctuary makes for great wildlife watching. The protected inlet where the creek meets the lake is often glassy even when the wind is blowing on the lake. There's plenty of beach for snoozing in the sun or picnicking. Also, both Kiva and Baldwin Beaches are great launching points for a paddle to Emerald Bay.
Directions: While the roads to Kiva and Baldwin Beaches are still closed (They open May 10 and May 17 respectively), the easiest way to reach Taylor Creek is launch at Camp Richardson Resort and paddle west about three-fourths of a mile to the inlet.
Crystal Bay, Incline Village
The aquamarine water and giant granite boulders make this the quintessential Lake Tahoe paddling spot. With two cars, the bay's eastern shoreline, which runs nearly parallel to Highway 28, can make for a terrific 3-mile one-way trip. Expect spectacular hidden coves, narrow rocky channels and untapped beaches, culminating in Sand Harbor's legendary scenery.
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Directions: Paddlers can launch anywhere they can find parking along Highway 28 between Incline Village and Sand Harbor Nevada State Park.
Kings Beach State Park, Kings Beach
If the winds do come up, there's no better spot to surf in Lake Tahoe. The flat contours of the lake bottom and the windward shoreline makes for the largest and best-shaped waves in the lake. But, be careful. With temperatures as cold as they are, a fall could mean hypothermia. A wetsuit is advised. Also, the area's accessibility and proximity to paddle rentals is a big plus for those without their own boards or kayaks.
Directions: Kings Beach State Park is in downtown Kings Beach. Ample parking is available right off Highway 28.
Lakeview Commons, South Lake Tahoe
With the ideal launch, paddlers will have no trouble getting from the car to the water. The new park is a great starting point for mellow paddles along the shallows of the South Shore. And the popular spot is a great place to meet fellow paddlers or to have a beachside barbecue. Just to the west is the Upper Truckee Marsh, Lake Tahoe's largest tributary. In this marsh, paddlers will find a maze of willow-lined waterways, an array of birds, a handful of beaver dams and meadows of colorful lily pads, though later in the summer, the shallows become impassable.
Directions: Lakeview Commons is just off Highway 50 in the center of South Lake Tahoe. There are several parking lots off Lakeview Avenue, where the beach can be accessed via the non-motorized boat launch.