The Lake Tahoe area is justly celebrated for its ski resorts, but in the summer and fall its hiking trails are both challenging and beautiful for those looking to get away from the crowds. Just a short drive from the resort area will bring you to one of a dozen different trailheads that either trace the shores of a lake or climb to the top of a mountain. Let's start your weekend in Tahoe with a moderate hike.
Hiking in Lake Tahoe — Photo courtesy of Carole Carey/Flickr
Before you get those quad muscles pumping, pick up a hearty breakfast at Rude Brother's Bagels in South Lake Tahoe. Bagels here are baked fresh daily, and the Everything Bagel with garlic-and-herb cream cheese will give you the carbs you need to take on the 10-mile round-trip Rubicon Trail. Starting in the beautiful Emerald Bay area, the Rubicon Trail follows the west shore of the lake to D.L. Bliss State Park and Lester Beach. Have a picnic on the beach before heading back to Emerald Bay. If you still have energy left, hike up to Eagle Falls or even to Eagle Lake just above the bay.
Lake Tahoe from the Rubicon Trail — Photo courtesy of Steven Belcher/Flickr
Now that you and your leg muscles are warmed up, the next day of hiking is a doozy. From the top of 9,735-foot Mount Tallac, you'll have a fantastic view of all of Lake Tahoe, the South Shore and the Desolation Wilderness. Look out over the North Shore, Reno, Sparks, the Washoe Valley and Lake Tahoe from the pinnacle of 10,776-foot Mount Rose. Both of these hikes will take the entire day and are suited to more advanced hikers. Each of these trails leads past peaceful creeks, rushing waterfalls and small lakes en route to incredible views. Reward yourself after a tough day of hiking with a pepperoni pizza and a beer at the Brewery in South Lake Tahoe or at Mofo's Pizza & Pasta in Incline Village.
Burger Me in Truckee, California — Photo courtesy of Burger Me
On your last day, take it easy with a leisurely hike around Donner Lake. Grab a hearty omelet for breakfast with the locals at the Squeeze In in Truckee, and then head to the lake. Surrounded by sheer cliffs and towering pine trees, Donner Lake is named after the ill-fated Donner Party, a group of 81 pioneers who were snowed in trying to cross the Sierra Nevada in 1846. (Thirty-six of them lost their lives.) This short hike, which weaves through the park near the shoreline is only 3.5 miles long, allowing plenty of time to stop for lunch in Truckee (head to Burger Me or to Moody's Bistro for the tomato bisque) and to take a dip in the lake from the public piers on the north shore.