Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the 2014 summer edition of Lake Tahoe Magazine, available now throughout the Lake Tahoe and Truckee region.
When the last mound of snow melts, and skis and snowboards are packed away tightly for the summer, one might think the fun has ended at the majority of Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts.
Well, think again.
Whether it’s zip lining through a grove of trees, horseback riding in the Lake Tahoe Basin’s backcountry or mountain biking toward breathtaking views, many of the region’s ski resorts give visitors a reason to return in the summer.
Most of the resorts continue offering an array of outdoor activities during the warm season that will keep visitors busy without the need for skis or snowboards. New activities are added annually, and they all seem to focus on the same thing: enjoying Lake Tahoe’s big backyard.
To help you decide which mountain resort you’d like to explore this summer, check out the following list:
Homewood Mountain Resort
With a little more than five miles of mountain-biking trails, Homewood offers an outdoor experience that will challenge even the most advanced cyclists at Tahoe.
Much of the trail network, which also can be hiked, has been given a difficulty rating of black diamond with certain sections described as both technical and strenuous. However, a less demanding experience can be found on the nearby U.S. Forest Service trails that connect to the West Shore resort.
Whichever path visitors choose, they still can expect to see the incomparable views of Lake Tahoe for which Homewood is known.
“It’s definitely a nice change from winter and equally as beautiful,” said Paul Raymore, director of marketing and sales.
Other summer activities: Homewood Days Festival on July 12, arts and crafts fairs and swimming.
Learn more: www.skihomewood.com
From paintball and disc golf to tennis and geocaching, there’s no doubt visitors at Squaw Valley will have a lot to keep them busy this summer.
The resort, located just northwest of Tahoe City, houses a 12,000-square-foot speedball course at the base of the 3,600-acre mountain where families and friends — while taking cover behind bunkers and other artificial obstacles — can participate in an enthralling game of paintball.
But guests also can head over to the tennis courts, set on a ridge top at 8,200 feet at High Camp. There, they can rent racquets, purchase tennis balls at the sports shop and play a game of tennis before taking a break in the heated swimming lagoon.
Other summer activities: Aerial tram rides, roller skating, hiking, biking, golf, miniature golf, swimming, live music and a newly renovated 1960 Winter Olympic museum.
Learn more: www.squaw.com
Heavenly Mountain Resort
At 9,123 feet, you’d be hard pressed to find a better view of South Lake Tahoe and the beautiful country surrounding it. Lucky for us, Heavenly makes this happen without the need for rigorous hiking.
The Heavenly Gondola, which can be accessed from Heavenly Village, consists of a 2.4-mile ride up Heavenly’s mountain and gives visitors the chance to stop at a 14,000-square-foot observation platform about halfway.
But for those who wish to continue to Tamarack Lodge, ropes courses and zip lines await. There, guests are greeted with a rare opportunity to glide through Tahoe’s trees.
Heavenly spokesperson Sally Gunter said the resort hopes to open more summer activities soon.
“Our overall goal for this is to have more options and offer more inspirational outdoor activities and educational opportunities for our guests that come up,” she said.
Other summer activities: Tubing hill, hiking and rock wall.
Learn more: www.skiheavenly.com
Claiming to offer the first Aerial Adventure Park in California, Granlibakken in Tahoe City has sought to get visitors off the ground and into the trees via the Treetop Adventure Park.
Participants at the park are able to travel through the forest on platforms, bridges and zip lines from 15 to 50 feet in the air. A number of courses are provided at the park, which is suitable for anyone age 5 and up.
For a more relaxing experience, try the resort’s revitalizing sauna or palatial pool and hot tub.
Other summer activities: Private nature trail, outdoor parcourse (fitness trail) and tennis.
Learn more: www.granlibakken.com
It’s no secret that Lake Tahoe is a great place to soak up the sun on a warm summer day, but the clear night skies that follow are equally enjoyable and provide great views for stargazing.
Northstar seems to embrace this by providing Tahoe Star Tours during the warm season as a unique and educational activity for all.
Tours, which start at the top of the Highlands Gondola, involve spending an evening in front of a warm fire with s’mores, wine, coffee or hot chocolate — all while studying the stars.
However, if you’re still intent on daytime recreation, the resort, located directly between Kings Beach and Truckee, offers several more options for visitors including wine walks, fly fishing and live music.
Other summer activities: Golf, gem panning, miniature golf, 9-hole disc golf, STRIDER Adventure Zone, roller skating, geocaching, bungee trampoline/ropes challenge, crafts, tennis, paddling and more.
Learn more: www.northstarcalifornia.com
Summers at Diamond Peak are what officials call “human-powered,” meaning visitors are basically free to explore every trail on the mountain, be it by bike or hike.
The longest trail on the Incline Village mountain is about 2.5 miles from top to bottom, but the most popular is the hike to Snowflake Lodge, said resort Marketing Coordinator Jaclyn Ream. The 1.5-mile hike to the lodge is a short one, but several steep sections keep it fun.
“It’s a good workout,” she said.
Once there, guests will have incredible views from the lake. Remember to pack a lunch, as picnic tables are provided.
Learn more: www.diamondpeak.com
They call it one of the premier golf courses in the High Sierra, and at Tahoe Donner, located in Northern Truckee, there’s no question why. The resort’s golf course is loaded with scenic views as players stroll down bright green fairways.
It was even nominated by Golf Digest magazine for Best Remodeled Golf Course in America after receiving renovations in 2007.
For water activities, there’s the Beach Club Marina on the east end of Donner Lake. There, visitors can try a variety of lake sports including windsurfing, paddle boarding, swimming and boating.
Other summer activities: Camping, hiking, recreation center, swimming pool, horseback riding, biking and tennis.
Learn more: www.tahoedonner.com
Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Not everyone gets to experience what it’s like to go horseback riding in the Sierra, but it’s happening all summer at Kirkwood.
Located off the Old Carson Trail on Highway 88, roughly an hour south of South Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood Corrals provides guests with scenic getaway via horseback. Guests can choose how long they want to ride before passing through creeks and meadows with high grass and pine-filled forests.
However, if you’d like to get a little more exercise, hiking is available at all ability levels, and the trails vary in terrain and length.
Chairlift rides are also available to hikers on the weekends.
Other summer activities: biking, climbing wall, zip lining and disc golf.
Learn more: www.kirkwood.com