Lake Tahoe in the fall is a magical vacation destination and one of my personal favorite places. The list of things to do as miles long, the scenery is breathtaking, and the weather is absolute perfection.
Lake Tahoe is on of those locations that are beautiful and have so much to offer every single season of the year. There is literally no bad time to visit Tahoe. And autumn is definitely no exception.
While most of Lake Tahoe is filled with evergreen forests like the majestic sugar pine trees, there are also beautiful sections of aspen trees which turn of bright gold and yellow when the weather begins to cool in September.
The average September temperature in Lake Tahoe is in the low 70s and by November it is a chilly 50°. While it doesn’t always snow in the fall, it often does, so be prepared for warm jackets should the first snowfall occur while you are visiting. Snow on the evergreens is breath taking, so I won’t blame you if you wish for a white autumn hike!
HIKING IN LAKE TAHOE IN THE FALL
The cooler weather makes it the perfect time of year to explore all of the hikes in the area. Hikes in Lake Tahoe range from strenuous multi-day hikes (looking at you Tahoe Ridge Trail) to easy kid-friendly hikes.
This .7 mile out and back trail is fun to climb and the view at the top is an incredible reward. The hike is uphill on the way in but not too tough. The vista over the lake, evergreen trees, and bursts of yellow from the aspen trees are just incredible.
The small parking lot holds only a handful of cars but turn over is pretty quick. The lot is located right off of the main road around the lake and can sneak up on you the first time.
Keep an eye out for signs that will inform you if eagles are currently nesting in the rocks. Seeing them will be icing on the cake!
EAST SHORE BIKE TRAIL
While this trail is titled a bike trail, you can also take to it on foot if you’d prefer. Regardless of which you choose, the views are so stunning that it might become your favorite spot on the entire lake (ask me how I know!).
If you’d like to rent bikes, plenty of options are available for renting mountain bikes or electric bikes on Lake Tahoe’s East Shore.
Parking is available at the Bullwheel Parking Lot in Incline Village. If the lot is full, you can circle around and wait for a spot or you can park at the previous site of the Incline Village Elementary School and take the East Shore Express to the trailhead.
The paved path is three miles long, departing from Incline Village and ending at Sand Harbor. Those that wish to enter Sand Harbor that way may do so for a $2 fee. There are 16 vistas along the trail and 11 short paths leading from the main path down to various east shore beaches.
The first mile from along the path is on the mountain side and then the path leads under a tunnel and emerges along the side the lake. The first beach you will be able to access is the lovely and popular Hidden beach. This small but stunning beach is a great spot to let the kids run and play in the small waves.
VIKINGHOLM TRAIL TO EMERALD BAY
While this trail is short, it is mighty! This 1.7 mile round trip hike boasts an impressive and moderately difficult 400 foot incline on the way back up.
When you reach the bottom of the hill, you are rewarded to beautiful views of Emerald Bay State Park. Pack a picnic down and spend the afternoon if you want to really experience the iconic Emerald Bay that most only see from above.
Tours are offered on certain dates of the Vikingsholm Mansion and the bay is always available to soaking up the view and dipping your toes in.
Fannette Island is located in the bay and only accessible via boat.
The parking lot here fills up fast, even in the fall and especially on weekends. Arrive early or be willing to wait for quite some time for an open spot. Be very careful about parking on the highway. It is very dangerous and, in many spots, will send you home with a parking ticket for a souvenir.
KAYAKING IN LAKE TAHOE IN THE FALL
Kayaking is another perfect fall activity in Lake Tahoe. When the water is too chilly to swim but too beautiful to stay away from, boating is a great way to experience the lake.
Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point State Park is an underrated spot on the west side of the lake in Tahoma. The property has a mansion, carriage house, and other historic buildings reminiscent of days gone by. The pier that leads out to the lake is the perfect spot for a picnic and kayaks can be launched directly from the beach.
You can bring your own kayak for no additional launching fee or rent one from the boat house on the weekends through September. Be prepared that hauling your kayak from the parking lot is no easy feat but it is so worth it!
Other easy spots for kayak launching are Meeks Bay and Zephyr Cove on the south shore. Parking lots are closer to the shore here making these easier for kayak launching.
While the lake is quite chilly, on a warm fall day you just might be tempted to take a dip. All of these spots are great for swimming if so as well.
RESTAURANTS IN LAKE TAHOE
Outdoor dining is another perk of visiting early during the fall months. On the North Shore, you will find many options for dining with the view. Jake’s on the Lake is a great spot for burgers and fresh fish. River Grill is also beyond lovely as the patio tables are seated right along the Truckee River.
Whether you fill your vacation with active sports or relax by the lake with a picnic, you are sure to enjoy the contrast of the aqua blue with the yellow of the aspens and the cool mountain breeze! Fall in Lake Tahoe is a special time and I am so thrilled that you are planning to experience it!