All listed opening and closing times and costs are as of April 2021 and subject to change. All stops are optional. All of the parking fees are not included in this driving tour.
A map of all of the hikes may be found here
If there is any snow or ice on the ground hikes can be quite hazardous. Only those prepared with the appropriate footwear, clothing and supplies should consider snow hiking.
Tahoe City Gatekeeper’s Museum Area Hike – Parking in Gatekeeper Museum Parking (130 W Lake Blvd., Tahoe City) area free at this time. Open Thursday through Sunday 11am to 5pm, $5 entrance fee. On exhibit Marion Steinbach basket of Native people of North America. From this museum you may also view Lake Tahoe Dam, Fanny Bridge and North Lake Tahoe Visitors Center.
Commons Beach, Tahoe City – Park at Commons Beach parking end of Common’s Beach Road. No fee at this time. Parking lot closed Thursdays, May through October for the Farmer’s Market. During the Farmer’s Market, park in the North Lake Tahoe Visitors Center to visit Common’s Beach.
Kings Beach State Recreation Area – There is a $5 fee to park at this beach where you will find a lovely sand beach, children’s play area, picnic area and public restroom.
Stateline Fire Lookout Trail – The trailhead is about ¼ mile down Lakeview Avenue, Crystal Bay California (39.237082, -120.004048). There is very limited parking on the right side of Lakeview near the trailhead. Do not park in front of the trailhead gate. This fire lookout, which was one of Lake Tahoe’s earliest fire lookouts was built in 1936. The tower was taken down in 2002. Follow the trail to the overlook a little under 1 mile. There is a restroom at the end of the trail and a number of interpretive signs which explain the history of this trail. This is a very scenic hike with views of Crystal Bay and Carnelian Bay.
Other Places to Visit
North Tahoe Regional Park, 6600 Donner Road, Tahoe Vista, California – To reach this park turn left off of CA-28 onto National Avenue. Near the end of National Avenue, turn left onto Donner Road. There is a $5 parking fee for this park. Here you will find a restroom, children’s playground, Treetop Adventures, hiking and biking trails. During the winter there is a Children’s Sled Hill, as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Tahoe is beautiful throughout the year. However, if you have an option of when to plan your trip, the best months to visit are April through the end of September when most of the State Parks and roads are open to vehicular traffic.
The busiest time of year in Lake Tahoe is July and August as well as holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.
If you are here during the winter months trailheads will be closed for the season and travel may be limited due to weather conditions. Though it will not effect this driving tour, during heavy snow, Highway 89 may close entirely around Emerald Bay. Plan ahead by checking weather and road conditions at https://roads.dot.ca.gov/ or https://northtahoebusiness.org/weather-and-road-conditions/
During winter months, inclement weather, or fires some roads around Lake Tahoe may be closed. To check weather and road conditions please visit https://northtahoebusiness.org/weather-and-road-conditions/ or https://roads.dot.ca.gov/
If traveling during the winter, chains may be required, and some roads may be closed due to weather conditions.
Take your time as you drive around Lake Tahoe and obey the speed limit. If cars are pilling up behind you, use the nearest pullout to allow them to pass.
To prevent possible car break-ins, whenever you park and leave your car, make sure to cover your valuables, lock your car and take your keys.
The high elevations around Lake Tahoe can make hiking more of a challenge if you are not used to it. The air is thinner here, meaning you will take in less oxygen with each breath, and you may find yourself out of breath after a short distance. If you have any concerns about the length or difficulty of a hike, I hope the descriptions in the “Places to Stop Along the Way” section will be of help.
Do not hike on snow or ice covered trails unless you are prepared with the appropriate clothing, supplies, and footwear. I use the Kahtoola EXOspike traction system which slips over my hiking shoes.
Some of the trails in Tahoe have been affected by fire or weather. Rangers work hard to get trails cleared, but it seems that it is a never-ending battle to have them all up and running at the same time. For that reason, I cannot promise that every hike listed on this driving tour will be open at the time you visit.
Always stay on the trails.
Except during the winter, I highly suggest you carry and use insect repellent. I always wear long pants when I hike; tuck the hem of my pant leg into my socks and spray insect repellent around the tops of my hiking boots. This discourages any ticks or insects from tagging along for the ride.
Avoid touching poison oak. Tecnu is also handy to have if you do happen to unexpectedly touch poison oak. Both Tecnu and a good insect repellent may be purchased over the counter at CVS or Safeway.
Don’t feed any wildlife or attempt to touch any critters. Though the most common wildlife sightings you will have on this tour will be deer, chipmunks, or ground squirrels, remember this is bear territory! And black bears are common. If you come across a bear, never approach them! Do not run, make yourself appear to be as large as possible, and back away slowly.
Search for VoiceMap Audio Tour on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Download the free App. Sign Up for a new account with your email and a password of your choice, go to the Explore option/Monterey Peninsula, Santa Cruz, Sacramento, and Lake Tahoe and purchase the tour you are interested in. Download the tour while you have good WiFi coverage. Click on the gear icon on the lower right corner and put the tour into yd/mi mode and turn off Tour Player Autolock and Audio Lost Alert. Then, select the Account option, select the tour you are going to take and read the information in the About option in the upper right. If you need directions to the starting point select Directions. It will open up another window in Apple Maps. You will need to close that window or use your phones interface to go back to the VoiceMap app to start the tour.
Go to your starting point, press start and follow the instructions of the narrator. Place your phone in a hands free holder on your car dashboard as there is a map on your screen that will show our travel route.
We also suggest that you have your phone plugged into an external charging port so that your tour isn’t interrupted by a dead battery.
You may pause this tour at any time using the pause button and resume it at any of the locations along the tour. If you decide stop along the way and take a meal break, or take one of the optional hikes, you should exit your tour by pressing the End Tour downward facing arrow on the top right, then just restart it from the closest location by restarting the tour using the Resume button. It will start at the closest stop.
If you are listening to this tour from home you may just press
Continuous Play and the tour will play for you to listen to.
This tour is a photographer paradise. Using the Video setting on your phone will shut down the VoiceMap app (and every other open app) and you will need to reload your tour. So, if you are using your phone for photos, try to use the Photo setting.