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Fall is a fantastic time to kayak at Lake Tahoe. With school in session, a lot of the summer crowds have disappeared. The weather is cooling, though warm days can still bring out the bathing suits. The boat traffic is gone. The colors in the mountains are popping off. And the wildlife is busy preparing for the cold season. Here are a few of our favorite trips that take full advantage of the conditions.

Sand Harbor to Whale Beach
With much of the North Shore cordoned off as private property, Sand Harbor is the best gateway for kayakers to access this side of the lake. From there, kayakers can travel south along the teal shallows of the East Shore to the boulder lined paradise, Whale Beach. These are undoubtedly some of Lake Tahoe’s most spectacular beaches.

Baldwin Beach to Emerald Bay
The quiet West Shore is a kayaker’s dream. Usually protected from the predominant southwest winds, the cruise offers a look at some of the lake’s least developed shoreline. Bald eagles and osprey are frequently spotted nesting in the trees near the entrance to Emerald Bay. Fannette Island with its tiny rock-built teahouse is a perfect stop for lunch or snacks before turning around.

Sugar Pine Point State Park to D.L. Bliss State Park
The beautiful sandy beaches along this stretch are hard to pass, but the sparkling turquoise waters of D.L. Bliss State Park are well worth the effort. For those who want a little extra rush, Rooster Rock just south of D.L. Bliss is a fun jump. For shorter trips, leave a car at one end to avoid the paddle home.

Cave Rock to Skunk Harbor
One of the easiest launches at the lake, Cave Rock is a great starting point for kayaking trips on the south or west shores. Heading north, kayakers pass historic Glenbrook with its long sandy beach, once the center of logging in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The protected coves of Skunk Harbor are just around Deadman Point, a grisly name for the hard-to-access corner of shoreline.

Camp Richardson to Ski Run Marina
What the South Shore lacks in scenery and serenity, it makes up for in quality food and boat-in cocktails. Between Camp Rich’s Rum Runner and Riva Grill’s classy tasting menu, there’s plenty to love about kayaking close to town. To get off the beaten path, head into the Upper Truckee Marsh and explore the tiny Tahoe tributaries.