Get up, stand up: 10 of Tahoe-Truckee’s best paddleboard trips
This story is adapted from the 2015 summer edition of Tahoe Magazine, a product of the Sierra Sun, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe Action. The magazine is available now on newsstands throughout the greater Reno-Truckee-Tahoe region, so be sure to pick up a copy for your go-to guide to enjoying summer at America’s greatest playground.
TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — Perhaps there’s little coincidence that the Hawaiian phrase for stand-up paddleboarding — “Hoe he’e nalu” — has a little bit of Tahoe in it.
The sport is more popular than ever at Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake. Below, find a quick-hit list of the region’s 10 best places to stand-up paddle.
1. Zephyr Cove to Cave Rock — 4 miles
A little more technical than the sandy South Shore paddles, a trip from Zephyr Cove to Cave Rock will take you around rocky points and past several small neighborhoods. Other than a couple rocky islands, there aren’t a ton of landing spots, so bring some snacks and water.
2. Sand Harbor to Crystal Bay — 7 miles along the shore 4.3 miles across bay
Hands down, Sand Harbor has to be one of the most beautiful places to paddle on the lake. Just to the north, you begin to lose the crowds. There are a handful of tiny coves with quaint little beaches on which to picnic.
3. Sugar Pine Point State Park to D.L. Bliss State Park — 3.6 miles across Meeks Bay
A favorite among Lake Tahoe kayak groups, Sugar Pine Point State Park is an easy place to launch. Head south and you’ll have miles of sandy beach before you run into the rocky outcroppings of D.L. Bliss. Feeling wild? Take a jump off Rooster Rock.
4. Tahoe City to Homewood — 6 miles
Home to what has to be some of the prettiest, clearest sandy bottoms on Lake Tahoe, the West Shore is a fantastic place for a cruise. Ringed by Highway 89, it’s easy to do one-way drop-offs of any distance.
5. Tahoe Vista to Carnelian Bay — 2.5 miles
Easy access for both launching and takeout, and a manageable round-trip distance makes this North Shore tour a favorite. Not to mention, Carnelian Bay’s Waterman’s Landing is the ultimate stand-up paddler destination.
6. Kings Beach to Incline Village — 6 miles
Traverse two states and round the massive Stateline Point, marked by the iconic tower of the Cal Neva Resort, on this longer tour. The paddle offers a glimpse at a lot of shoreline that’s closed to public access and hard to see from the road. The distance can vary as there are many spots to take off from or land on.
7. Donner Lake — mileage varies
This beautiful and clear lake lies about 11 miles northwest of Tahoe, and it’s not even 3 miles long, making for a perfect and easy shoreline paddle. The tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad run along Schallenberger Ridge overseeing the lake, which closely follow the route of the original transcontinental railroad.
8. Baldwin Beach to Emerald Bay 2.5 miles — 4 miles
Lake Tahoe’s largest bay is kind of the ultimate stand-up paddle destination. Cruising by Fannette Island on a glassy day is a one-of-a-kind experience. Baldwin is the closest and easiest launch point on the South Shore. If you really feel like an adventure, pack your wet bags and stay for a night at the boat-in campground.
9. Lakeview Commons to Upper Truckee River Marsh — 1.31 miles
This mellow tour is a staple of South Shore paddlers. In the spring, the marsh is a maze of waterways and is filled with birds. When there’s enough water, paddling up the Upper Truckee isn’t too difficult and can provide some extra mileage — if you’re looking for more of a workout.
10. Tahoe Keys to Camp Richardson — 1.5 miles
Another South Shore regular is the trip over to Camp Richardson. Along the way, there are tons of beach stops to make. When you arrive, grab a cold drink at the Beacon Bar & Grill and take a stroll around the peaceful grounds of the Tallac Historic Site.
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