Emerald Bay Paddle

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California

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Emerald Bay Paddle


  • The paddle begins with views across Emerald Bay from a viewpoint at the parking area.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • Signs mark the beginning of the 1-mile descent to the lake shore.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • A wide trail marks the descent into and from Emerald Bay.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • A signboard at the bottom of the descent. Head right here to reach Vikingsholm and the nearest access to Emerald Bay.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • Signs point the way to the kayak and stand-up paddleboard rental area.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • Kayak Tahoe offers rentals for those who don't want to haul their kayak or paddleboard down.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • Emerald Bay provides a generally calm and incredibly scenic spot for paddlers.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • Crossing the bay.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • Fannette Island makes an ideal destination for paddlers to explore.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • Climbing the short trail to the tea house atop Fannette Island.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • The Tea House at the peak of Tahoe's only island.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • The tea house offers a unique panoramic view from the center of Emerald Bay.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • Kayaking near Vikingsholm gives a perspective that few others get.- Emerald Bay Paddle
  • The Vikingsholm parking area is the nearest access to reach Emerald Bay. However, it is small and can fill up quickly.- Emerald Bay Paddle
Overview + Weather
Beautiful scenery. Option to explore Fannette Island.
Requires a steep hike to access.
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, CA
Site characteristics: Water: 
Motorized watercraft allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Portage required: 
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Shuttle required: 
Typically multi-day: 
Water temperature: 
32.00 °F (0.00 °C)
Current Local Weather:
Paddle Description

Paddle Description

Pro Contributor

Emerald Bay is without question one of the most beautiful and scenic areas of Lake Tahoe, with nearby lower Eagle Falls, historic Vikingsholm, and many of the features of Emerald Bay State Park in walking distance and views of the Desolation Wilderness peaks dominating the western horizon. But a unique way to explore the area, as well as to get a break from some of the crowds that can make their way to the area in peak-season, is to paddle out into the bay. 

The cove setting of Emerald Bay ensures that wind conditions here may often be better than on other areas of the lake, and it is small enough that paddlers can explore shoreline, the creek below Eagle Falls, or access the boat-in camp along the bay's northern side. Paddling is also the only way to access Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe. Fannette Island offers a short hiking trail to the tea house, which was built by Lora Josephine Knight, owner of Vikingsholm, to entertain guests. 

Two caveats to paddling in Emerald Bay, however, are that parking at the Vikingsholm Parking Lot requires a $10 parking and can fill up early. After this, there is limited parking along the shoulder of Highway 89, though this will require a walk back to the parking area. Also, the hike from the parking area to the lakeshore is about 1 mile with about 400 feet in elevation difference. This means that hauling in your own kayak or stand-up paddleboard may turn out to be a laborious undertaking. Inflatables may provide an easier entry for this reason.

Additionally, kayak and SUP rentals and tours are available seasonally near the bottom of the entry trail. Provided by Kayak Tahoe, rentals include necessary safety gear, as well as a lesson for first-time or beginner paddlers. 

More information from Kayak Tahoe can be found at or by calling them at 530.544.2011.

Emerald Bay is open for day use year round. The boat-in camp is open seasonally. Fannette Island remains closed to the public from February 1 to June 15 for bird nesting.

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(27 within a 30 mile radius)

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(108 within a 30 mile radius)

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