Between western Nevada and California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range lies North America’s largest alpine lake. The Resort Town of Lake Tahoe rises over 6,200 feet above sea level. This mountainous terrain provides snow packed peaks for skiers in the winter, and lakeside retreats for campers in the warm summer months.
The lake that serves as a major attraction for the communities that surround its multi-state shores, was formed over 2 million years ago. Lake Tahoe with its city’s namesake, possesses the clarity that only a fresh water mountain lake this high in altitude could have. One of the more popular attraction on the lake is Emerald Bay State Park. The park is located on the southern end on the California side. Parts of the park (shown right) are surrounded by sheer beauty. There are points where the views are 360 degrees of nothing but breathtaking scenery.
We start our adventure by trying to find a parking spot in a small lot that is obviously way to inadequate and cannot handle the daily volume. We ended up parking on State Route 89 without crossing the solid white line, and as close to the mountain side as possible. We took in the views before heading down the trailhead. From the trailhead, the 191 sq. mile lake is a sight to see. Pictures do not lend it justice, but only seeing it live can give you the full effect of Mother Natures astonishing creation.
The trail is family friendly and with an appropriate stroller and a cautious handler, can be maneuvered down and back with little to no struggles – baring any severe weather conditions. The path starts out with a gradual sloping decline and increases as you get further down (up) the trail. The trail is lined with tall mature pine trees and the occasional water slithering down from the peaks above. The trail is a mile long and drops 500 feet to the lake’s brown sandy shore.
There are places along the trail that open up and provided us with a spectacular view of the bay. We caught a glimpse of a river boat making its way around the bay. Believe it or not, Fannette Island is the only island on the lake. The ruins are of a stone house – the Tea House, which was built by Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight. The island was also at one time home to an English sailor by the name of Capitan Dick. He actually built his own chapel and tomb on the island for his final resting place. Unfortunately he was taken by the sea in 1873 and missed his own funeral.
We finally made it down to the shore and beach like area. Since Lake Tahoe is inline with the Pacific Flyway zone, the large pond is a favorite stop over for North American Wild Geese. Its early May and they are already here enjoying the perfect temperate weather conditions. The area has BBQ grills, picnic benches, restroom facilities and a beach that allows wading only. The water is very cold and does not have a designated swim area.
The Vikingsholm Castle sets on Emerald Bay’s rounding shore and looks out at the open water. Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight built and completed the summer home in 1929. The 38 room mansion offers fabulous views, a serene setting and a luxurious summer home for relaxing after a hard winter. Mrs. Knight and her business minded husband Harry financially backed Charles Lindbergh’s non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic ocean.
What makes this building so unique is that it was mostly constructed without nails and spikes. It also consist mostly of materials found in and around Lake Tahoe. There our daily tours, however I would suggest to research times and get to the ticket office early. It is a guided tour and sells out quickly at certain times of the year. While you are waiting for your tour, walk around and take in all the amazing nature that surrounds the castle like structure.
From here we walked around to the front of the Vikingsholm Mansion (pictured above – left) and found the Cascade Creek Falls trailhead. The trailhead (pictured left – notice the bridge in foreground) offers several options. The first is the lower Eagle Falls, which is fed by the upper Eagle Falls, and Cascade Creek trail. The trail is somewhat family friendly. The restrictions are limited to foot only traffic – no strollers. Small children are not recommended on the trail unless they are being held securely by a capable adult.
I walked up to the bridge that crossed over the falling water. I stopped for a moment to marvel at the lower Eagle Falls (pictured below). The rushing water seems to magically appear from just over the horizon as if someone had turned on a spicket. There is nothing better than hearing nature tell you to stop and enjoy view. After taking in the site, we chose to explore the Cascade Creek Falls trail. The trail follows along the side of the mountain and is pretty easy to maneuver. At certain points along the trail we can see Emerald Bay (pictured below) from many different angles.
The trail is approximately a mile long and then you double back. Returning hikers give subtle hints regarding the beauty to others making their way up the trail. The trail includes a variety of foliage, trees and small bridges of all types (shown below).
We walked the trail and made it back to the lower falls in about an hour. From here we made the turn up the mountain and ventured up multiple sets of stone stairs. The uppers falls reach much higher up the mountainside. The hike isn’t to tough, but the climb does elevate pretty quickly for a short distance. The trail consist of stepping stones and gravel paths.
As I got closer to my destination, I could hear the thundering roar of water bouncing over the rocks. I reached a wooden platform with rails and was amazed at the wondrous site. The tremendous amount of water cascading over the falls wasn’t the highlight of my experience. In my mind, it was seeing the velvety white liquid flowing so gracefully over the landscape that creates such a picturesque scene.
To me, there is nothing more rejuvenating than the mist spraying against my face and the air so pure and fresh. I posted my favorite photo (shown right) of the Upper Eagle Falls.
That are no words I can say that would match the natural beauty Lake Tahoe holds within its majestic borders. The timber covered mountain sides, the sheer rock formations and waterfalls that surround the deep blue water of the lake is something everyone needs to experience. When visiting Lake Tahoe there are plenty of cabins, lodges, resorts and campsites to choose from. No matter what your needs or budget calls for, get on line or consult your travel agent and plan a trip. Bring your family, friends or come as a couple, there is something for everyone.