Top 12 Summer Things to Do in Lake Tahoe and Truckee
Sometimes, all you desire from your time at Martis Camp is some peace, quiet and the opportunity to recharge. We get it. We also know that the occasional itch comes along to get out, about and off toward those places and events that are close at hand yet hard to forget. In that case, we’ve assembled over two-dozen selections — from Shakespeare to salmon viewing — to consider for the next few months. Enjoy.
Story by Scott Mortimore
Photography by Paul Hamill Photography
1 – Chimney Beach Hike
It’s a 30-minute drive there, a 10-minute hike down (20 minutes back) to the lake and a lifetime memory of sunny skies, clear blue waters and a secluded beach with a chimney serving as its centerpiece. Continue south from the Chimney and you’ll reach another not so Secret Cove. Clothing is optional at Secret Cove. Tip: roadside parking on Nevada SR 28 is limited so arrive early.
2 – Fishing the Truckee River
Western fly fishermen are well aware of the Truckee River’s return to blue ribbon status. Locally, few know those waters better than guide Matt Heron. Read the full story here »
3 – Wildflowers
This past winter was kind to those in search of wildflowers. Top sights include the Mount Rose Wilderness and Tahoe Meadows, Martis Valley, the Norden area, Page Meadows south of Tahoe City, Lacey Meadow, the Marlette Lake trail, and — pictured below bottom — Sagehen Creek whose 5-mile round trip trail sets off just 7 miles north of Truckee on Highway 89. Tip: all that water is as appealing to mosquitoes as it is to flowers.
4 – Rainbow Bridge Overlook
Chances are, you’ve already seen this stunning vista, even if it wasn’t in person. The location is often featured in car and adventure ads. Beyond the west shore of Donner, you’ll climb historic Route 40. Just below the summit is this graceful span dating back to the 1920s. Tip: combine this journey with a trip to the train sheds.
5 – Martis Peak Fire Lookout
Fire lookouts were built to take in 360º views and this 100-year-old lookout is no exception. You’ve got forests to your north, the Sierra crest to the west and a plate of blue Tahoe everywhere else. Getting there is easy, both by car and foot. From Martis Camp, take Highway 267 toward Brockway Summit, and turn south. There may be a closed gate. If so, enjoy the short hike. If it’s open, the hike gets even shorter.
6 – Surf Tahoe
Seriously. There’ve been more and more sightings of surfers on Tahoe than ever before. Mind you, it’s usually on the chilly (okay, frigid) side of the calendar but when the forecast is for whipping winds and the lifts are closed, break out the wet suit and head for the North Shore (Tahoe, not Oahu). That should add some significant color to your bucket list.
7 – Breakfast at the Log Cabin
It’s all about breakfast here as chefs whip up some of Tahoe’s most amazing fare every day from 7 am-2 pm. The atmosphere of this Kings Beach classic is cozy casual. To work your way up the waiting list, call ahead at 530-546-7109.
8 – Backpack the PCT
Many of the homes at Martis Camp sport views of the Sierra Crest, home to the Pacific Crest Trail. In 20 minutes, you’re at Donner Summit and already have some significant elevation to head either north or south. Hike as much or as little as you care or simply pack your bag with newspaper, step out of the car, and strike a pose for your latest profile picture.
9 – Kokanee Festival
In September, trees aren’t the only things to change colors. Tahoe’s land-locked Kokanee salmon go bright red as they make their annual upstream travail to spawn at Taylor Creek, just a few miles south of Emerald Bay. There are festivals, trails and an underwater observatory that brings wide eyes to kids of all ages.
10 – Donner Museum
In a large, log cabin near Donner Lake is a fascinating museum recounting one of America’s most tragic (and triumphant) chapters. Situated on the grounds of where the Donner Party was stymied by epic snows in October 1846, this is also a great day trip idea for picnics, beach time and strolls through the woods. NOTE: The height of the statue base indicates the depth of the snow, which was 22 feet. After futile attempts to cross the summit, the Donner party was forced to encamp for the winter in 1864.
11 – Emerald Bay
Welcome to Tahoe’s beauty mark, that picture postcard bay that feels like a Scandinavian fjord. Perhaps that’s why the long-ago owners chose to build their Vikingsholm Castle here (open to the public all summer). The island at the center of the bay is topped with a stone “tea house.” Tip: bring a swimsuit and rent a SUP or kayak for an on-water look at this gem.
12 – Fanny Bridge – Feed the Monster Trout
We’re not sure where they go when the waters at the outlet to Truckee River go thin, but they’ve returned with a vengeance — monster trout cruising beneath the bridge. Where to go: head for the south end of Tahoe City to junction of highways 28 and 89 then look for all those backsides that give Fanny Bridge its name.