Kayaking Lake Tahoe

Paddle the Lake Tahoe Water Trail

Entrance to Emerald Bay

Although you need to take some care in choosing when you go because Lake Tahoe can be like an angry ocean at times, it can also allow a peaceful and tranquil paddle. The west shore is often much calmer than the other parts of the lake as the predominate winds come from the west off the ocean. For example, the east shore often has much bigger waves as the wind has had about 25 miles of “reach” to build up those waves, which at the same moment the west shore coves are calm and protected.

The main body of Lake Tahoe, not often this calm

The best information on paddling Lake Tahoe is from the Lake Tahoe Water Trail organization www.laketahoewatertrail.org There you will information, maps and safety information.

Betsy and I for our trip used the Kiva Beach put-in and paddled into Emerald Bay, with stunning views of the bay and lake. However we did it on a weekday, and early enough that there wasn’t a lot of motorized boat traffic into Emerald Bay. I’ve taken a speed boat into Emerald Bay several times and I know how the waves can “double up” from multiple boats and become massive at the entrance to the bay. That isn’t supposed to happen with the 5 mph speed limit but boaters are anxious to get into the bay and often cheat on that speed limit.

The lesson is, go early (boat traffic doesn’t pick up for quite some time) and stay very near the shore for two reasons: One, to give plenty of birth to the motorized guys that may be looking at the scenery and run you over, and two, so if you do swamp from big waves it is a short swim to shore.

By the way, these are beautiful boats, yes? They are Feathercraft folding kayaks that I got for the airplane. I used the green one on a solo flying trip to Alaska and live out of it for four days. Feathercraft unfortunately is not in business any longer, but their boats live on.

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