Clover playing in Fallen Leaf Lake. Premshiree-Pillai (CC)
Most hikes around Lake Tahoe—and there are hundreds—can be enjoyed with your best friend. But if your goal is to bask in fall color, better get a move on. The aspens and other color-makers at higher elevations have already peaked, but you’ll still find some golden glow around the lakeshore. Go to CalifornaFallColor.com for leaf-peeper updates—and, as always, check weather reports before rounding up your pup and heading into the high country. Be prepared for snow, because at this time of year, you never know.
For lodging right at Lake Tahoe, consider a dog-friendly vacation rental at Tahoe Keys Resort, a marina community not far from the South Lake Tahoe hotel district. It’s a great location for hikes, such as the easy, 3.5-mile round-trip stroll to gorgeous Fallen Leaf Lake, second-largest body of water in the Tahoe Basin and easily accessible from a parking lot just off Highway 89. Also easy-going is the mile-in, mile-out Cascade Creek Falls trail, accessed from a trailhead at the primitive Bayview Campground across Highway 89 from the Inspiration Point Vista at Emerald Bay (but note that creek and falls run dry at this time of year).
If you prefer a bit more solitude, set out from the West Shore’s Meeks Bay trailhead, which accesses a chain of lakes in Desolation Wilderness above Lake Tahoe (fill out a wilderness permit, available at trailheads, before heading up). Another option with many possibilities is the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), which encircles the lake and can be accessed from many points. The TRT’s Spooner Summit section on Tahoe’s Nevada side offers a variety of scenic options, from a two-mile hike around Spooner Lake to multi-day backpacking trips.
Looking for something right on the shores of Big Blue? Due to the drought, Kiva Beach, adjacent to Tallac Historic Site on the South Shore, is very wide and inviting this year, while the nearby (and wheelchair accessible) Rainbow Trail along Taylor Creek offers opportunity to learn about native kokanee salmon and, in fall, see them spawning. Another great place to duck into nature during a South Shore visit is the flat and easy Lam Watah Trail to beautiful Nevada Beach, where your dog can romp off-leash in the segment designated a boat-in picnic area.
Tahoe’s North Shore offers many additional dog-friendly hiking opportunities, from easy to strenuous. If all you and your fur buddy need is a stroll, check out the Tahoe City Lakeside Trail, a waterfront promenade with plazas and picnic spots in the center of town. Dogs aren’t allowed on the municipal beach here, but as you continue east (just past the Safeway store), you’ll come to Tahoe State Recreation Area, which has a long pier perfect for taking selfies of you and your best friend with the azure lake in the background.
For more dog-friendly lodging suggestions, click here.