Like a Local: Kayaking to Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Like a Local: Kayaking to Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

As told by Bart Peterson.

Kayaking on Lake Tahoe is one of the best ways to get on the lake and something that can be enjoyed year-round.  One of my favorite destinations is paddling into Emerald Bay because you are surrounded on three sides by massive granite peaks, resembling a Norwegian fjord and where the only island on the lake exists.  

There are a few considerations.  Wind is going to be the first element to consider because paddling with little to no wind is far more enjoyable than paddling choppy waters. I use Weather Undergrounds app and find their wind forecast by the hour to be pretty accurate. I aim to paddle in no greater than 5 mph of wind.  Always wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and remember the water is cold, so consider a dry top or neoprene if it’s cold. A compass can be helpful to hold your course.

Typically, I like to head out in the early morning to avoid boat traffic and this is when the wind is usually calm. If you have your own kayak or SUP you can launch from Baldwin, Kiva, or Pope Beaches in the summer time. In the winter, I launch from Camp Richardson. If you need to rent a kayak in the summer you can find one at Baldwin or Pope Beach or in Emerald Bay with Kayak Tahoe. 

The trip from Camp Rich is about 8 miles and takes around 2 hours to go into Emerald Bay and lap around Fannette Island. Add more time to stop at the island, the beach at Vikingsholm or the beach at the mouth of Emerald Bay.  

Keep an eye out for Eagles and Osprey that like to fish in Emerald Bay and hang out at the ponderosa pines on the waters edge.  I’ve even seen a bear swim across the bay, so always be alert to the wildlife! Reference the lake Tahoe Water Trail for more details.

Looking to refuel after the paddle, you can’t go wrong at Crazy Good Bakery Cafe.  

Bart Peterson is an outdoor enthusiast, based in South Lake Tahoe, California