There’s more to the Tahoe Basin than just the famous lake. Scoot south to the Highway 88/Carson Pass corridor and you’ll encounter a high, rugged world dotted with lakes and laced with trails where a well-behaved Bella can accompany you unleashed.
Don’t let the altitude get you down: To get acclimated, try the easy Lake Margaret Trail, a 2.3-mile path that undulates alongside Caples Creek, through shady glens and over granite slabs to reach the picture-perfect, rock-bound body of water. Bella might want to go for a swim, but you probably won’t: Lake Margaret sits at an elevation of 7,800 feet, and the water never gets warm. Nearby, the Caples Lake to Emigrant Lake Trail is a somewhat longer (four miles each way) day hike sure to please both you and your pup. Starting at the western tip of Caples Lake, it follows an old emigrant route along the shady shoreline shore for 2.5 miles before ascending gradually alongside Emigrant Creek and then up a set of switchbacks to Emigrant Lake, a circle of blue set in granite at a lofty 8,600 feet within the Mokulumne Wilderness.
Yet another suggestion for scenic overload: The Minkalo Trail at Silver Lake. This six- to seven-mile jaunt takes you to civilization as well as into the wild. Follow it first to the junction for Granite Lake, make a short side trip to its shore and take a break. Then hike back to the junction and take the right fork to dog-friendly Plasse’s Resort, enjoying pretty lake views along the way. If you like, load up on pizza before heading back; you’ve earned it!
The aforementioned Plasse’s, by the way, is a private campground and one of many places to stay in the Carson Pass area if you have your own tent or RV. For dog-friendly luxury, reserve a cabin at Sorensen’s, a getaway destination popular with hikers, skiers, fly-fishing enthusiasts and photographers. It’s near Hope Valley, an aspen-rich area where fall color most years peaks the first week of October.