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Backpacking California at Lake Tahoe is the best year round vacation destination with spectacular scenery! Lake Tahoe has over three hundred days of sunshine per year, 396 inches of snowfall, and of course, beautiful Lake Tahoe itself, including casinos, hotels, and eighteen world class snowboarding and ski resorts!
On an earlier backpacking trip, I was at the car rental place in Las Vegas, NV., when one of the employees started a conversation with me and I told him I was here to do some hiking and he mentioned Lake Tahoe and was just raving about it! So in September, 2002 I went there to see if it lived up to the promotion I had received.
I stayed in the town of South Lake Tahoe, which was very affordable, and the first thing I noticed about the Lake and this area is how romantic it is. Women will just love this place!
The first place I visited was Emerald Bay State Park. Emerald Bay was designated a National Natural Landmark for its brilliant panorama of glacier carved granite and mountain building, in 1969. One of the highlights of any visit to Lake Tahoe is the history, geology and natural beauty of this unique place.
The only island to be found in all of Lake Tahoe, the Tea House on Fannette Island, and Vikingsholm, one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere, is featured in the park. If you look closely at the next photo, you will see the Tea House, the rich woman who lived here would go out to the island and have tea.
Tea House on Fannette Island
In 1994, Emerald Bay was designated an underwater state park. During the heyday of Emerald Bay Resort and used in the construction of Vikingsholm, it is the resting place for many boats, launches and barges used in the lake before the turn of the century.
Vikingsholm has spectacular views of the lake.
If you go to the back of Vikingsholm, you can see the sod roof they used over the garage.
To see Vikingsholm, you have to hike down one mile. It is quite a hike. The good news was that it only cost me $1 to get into the house. Mrs. Lora J. Knight of Santa Barbara bought this remote site at the head of Emerald Bay In 1928. She instructed her nephew by marriage, Lennart Palme, a Swedish born architect, to design a home for her. They decided to use elements found in wooden stave churches and Norwegian farmsteads without disturbing a single one of the Emerald Bay site's incredible trees. Vikingsholm was finished in September, 1929. Until her death in 1945, Mrs. Knight spent her summers at the home.
Emerald Bay From Above
Winter temperatures range from a high of forty to a low of twenty degrees, and Summer temperatures average from around seventy five degrees during the day to the low forties at night. Emerald Bay freezes over during extremely cold winters. Eagle Point Boat Camp and Campground are closed in winter. They are usually open from end of May or early June thru Labor Day.
Emerald Bay is Crystal Clear!
Joe by Emerald Bay
The next day I was ready to do some more hiking. In the morning it was freezing but by afternoon I had to put some shorts on.
Pine Trees by Lake Tahoe
I hiked along the lake shoreline and what incredible views there are here! I am high above the water and soon stop to eat lunch on these large rocks overlooking the lake and a boat. It soon got a little chilly so I started to hike again.
View from atop Large Rocks
It's amazing how cold it gets here at night. But I shouldn't be surprised since Lake Tahoe has an average surface elevation of 6,225 ft (1,897 m) above sea level. Lake Tahoe is the highest lake of its size in the USA.
Lake Tahoe from Trail
Everywhere I Look, It's Beautiful!
The magnificent parks and their location is a product of successive upheavals of the mountain building that raised the Sierra Nevada. You can see over one hundred feet into the depths of Lake Tahoe from promontories such as Rubicon Point in D.L. Bliss State Park.
Lake Tahoe Again from Trail
I continue backpacking California until I see this dead tree along the shore. D. L. Bliss State Park is named after a banker of the region, railroad owner, and pioneering lumberman. In 1929, the D.L. Bliss family donated 744 acres to the State Park system.
When I drove into this park, the girl at the window told me to come in and look around and if I didn't like what I saw, I didn't have to pay her the $2 entrance fee. Well, after seeing the incredible views and hiking the shoreline trail, I was more than glad to pay the fee. Turns out that the $2 fee covers two state parks, I got each park for $1! You can't beat that.
There are paddle boats that will take you around the lake.
Wow! I just can't believe the views here. Covering 1,830 acres in California's Sierra Nevada, Emerald Bay and D. L. Bliss State Parks include more than 6 miles of terrific Lake Tahoe's west shore. You can see a great panorama of the distant Nevada shore, Lake Tahoe, Fannette Island and Emerald Bay from the scenic overlook on Highway 89. Close by Eagle Creek cascades over 3 falls and disappears into Lake Tahoe.
The next photo says it all about backpacking California!
This Lake is Huge!
There are some very interesting rock formations in this park. There is the Balancing Rock Trail that has a very interesting balancing rock that you have to see!
The backpacking California trail gets a little treacherous in spots. I'm glad they put in chains to keep people from falling. I'm sure there must have been accidents along this route in the past.
Dangerous Trail Here
The trail gets very close to the lake and is steep. Lake Tahoe is from an Indian word (Lake of the Sky), lies at more than 6,200 feet elevation east of the main Sierra crest. Especially to the north, the lake's basin was completed by glaciers and lava seeping from volcanic vents, after the mountains rose to the west and east. Thousands of years ago, Emerald Bay was gouged out by glaciers.
The granite of Fannette Island resisted the glacial ice, geologists believe. The lake is more than 1,600 feet deep, twelve miles wide and over twenty two miles long. From Rubicon Point, you can see approximately seventy feet into the depths. At Tahoe City, the lake level is controlled by a small dam on the Truckee River. The Truckee River is the only outflow, but over sixty streams feed water into Lake Tahoe.
Close to the Water
I eventually make my way to the lodge here. The Rubicon Trail for backpackers follows the scenic lakeshore from Calawee Cove past Vikingsholm to Upper Eagle Point Campground. At Emerald Bay, the Cascade Trail gives backpacking California hikers vistas of the south and west shores of the lake.
I will never forget backpacking California at Lake Tahoe with it's cold nights and warm days. It is such a beautiful area! I just hope it stays that way.
Lake Tahoe Mountain
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