Cruising Lake Tahoe's Water Trail

Hiking along the rocky edge is far from the only way to experience Lake Tahoe's beautiful shoreline. In the last few years, a group of passionate paddlers has worked to create the Lake Tahoe Water Trail, a guide to paddling the 72-mile circumference of the lake.

Whether you're a canoer, kayaker, or standup paddler, traveling along Lake Tahoe's shore may seem pretty self-explanatory. The Water Trail is for those who want to get a little deeper into paddling than floating a few hundred yards off of Kings Beach. Through a map available at many area retailers and on their website, the organization offers detailed information on day-trips, overnighters and circumnavigations.

The water trail was founded in 2003. Since then, the Lake Tahoe Water Trail Association and the California Tahoe Conservancy have helped promote it as a fun and environmentally sound way to enjoy Lake Tahoe. They continue to add points of interest, lodging opportunities and paddler-friendly businesses to the trail. Below are a few of the coolest stops and helpful information of the Lake Tahoe Water Trail map.

Emerald Bay Boat-In Campground

That's right! There's no other way to access Emerald Bay's campground than cruising right up to the dock. The sites are some of the closest to the lake of all the campgrounds in the area. There are also all the necessary amenities (like bathrooms) for the weary paddler.

Launching and Landing Sites

One of the most useful things about the LTWT map is the identification of more than 40 launching and landing sites along the lakeshore. This makes it easy to select a destination where it's easy to get your boats or boards into and out of the water. You could also turn this into a checklist of sorts and check off each and every one.

Safety Information

Paddling on Lake Tahoe is not a walk in the park. Between the often chilly water temperature and the fast-changing weather, there's a lot to be aware of. There are also the boating safety laws that need to be followed. The LTWT map helps paddlers make sure they're off to a safe start on any voyage.

Paddle Days

Through their Facebook page, the Lake Tahoe Water Trail Association often hosts paddling days. These events are an excellent way to get to know sections of the trail or meet other Tahoe paddlers. The paddling days usually revolve around a cool theme, like a full moon or a beach cleanup.


Access to Lake Tahoe's shore is a complicated issue. Because some of the shoreline is private property, paddlers cannot land anywhere. They also cannot camp anywhere. The Lake Tahoe Water Trail clearly lays out where and where not to go.

Tahoe Keepers

There's a lot that paddlers can appreciate that those speeding by on a motorboat totally miss. The unique species of Lake Tahoe, like the Tahoe Yellow Cress, are not always easy to spot. They're also at danger from invasive species. The LTWT map provides tips on avoiding transporting non-native species to Lake Tahoe via kayaks, canoes and paddleboards.

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