Motors Allowed?
Easy / Class A
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

A day paddling from Rubicon Point through Emerald Bay and into Pope Beach is the quintessential Tahoe experience. The paddling distance from Rubicon Point to Pope Beach, including a stop in Emerald Bay, is approximately 9 miles. There can be quite a bit of tourist traffic on this adventure, so be sure to plan ahead for an early departure. Emerald Bay is a fantastic stop on any Tahoe visitor's list, and a trip to Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe, is not to be missed.

The history of Emerald Bay as a summer home destination dates back to 1863 when stagecoach magnate Ben Holladay built a home on its shores. Vikingholm Castle would later be built in 1929 by the Knight and Palmes families. The area became a California state park in 1953 when then owner Harvey West donated the property to the parks system. Vikingholm Castle on the shores of Emerald Bay is an excellent detour for history buffs, but be careful not to stay too long because the winds and boat traffic on this paddle can get quite heavy in the afternoon.

Fannette Island houses an old stone building that is also a great stop along the way. Mrs. Knight, the original owner of Vikingholm, had this "tea house" constructed for small trips afield during her stays at the lake. The island's previous resident, Captain Dick Barter, was known as "The Hermit of Emerald Bay," and his ghost is said to haunt the chapel and tomb that he built for himself when he lived on the island.

Rubicon Point and Emerald Bay are also home to many species of large birds, including golden eagles, bald eagles, and osprey, all of which can often been seen hunting for kokanee salmon in the lake.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

State Park Fee


Beautiful views. Clear water. Easy portage. Interesting history.


Long paddle. Some boat traffic. Summer crowds. Challenging parking.


Campgrounds + Campsites
Picnic tables
Bird watching

Site characteristics: Water


Portage required



Nearby Adventures

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California
D.L. Bliss + Emerald Bay State Parks
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California
Emerald Bay State Park, California


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