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If you have only a day to spend in Lake Tahoe, you should have no problem finding activities that keep you busy. There are several hiking trails and park areas that are easily accessible. However, the best places to visit in Lake Tahoe can vary widely, so it’s important to plan and get the most out of your time.

Skunk Harbor Trail

lake tahoe skunk harbor trailIf you’re looking to do some hiking in Lake Tahoe, the Skunk Harbor Trail is the way to go. You’ll see the sights of the Lake Tahoe Basin along the way, but you’ll also enjoy some solitude.

The Skunk Harbor Trail is a great short hike starting in the forest and ending on a small beach. Although this is a nice walk, it’s less picturesque than other longer trails.

The trail is easy to follow and has plenty of wildlife to see. There’s also a short climb on the hike that makes it a workout. For those with kids, the Skunk Harbor Trail is a great hike that you can do with the family.

Another fun hike is the lighthouse trail. This short trail offers an excellent view of the lake, and you’ll see many bridges spanning streams.

The Tahoe Rim Trail is another scenic hike that takes you over the lake and into the forests. It’s a nice little loop, and it’s well-marked.

Check out the Spooner Lake Loop Trail for something a little less strenuous. Located just outside South Lake Tahoe, this short hike is the perfect way to spend some time outdoors.

The Rubicon Trail is a good choice if you want a more rugged hike. This is a 10-mile loop that follows the western shore of the lake. It’s a popular route for a reason, as it offers a good overview of the region.

While at it, check out the Nevada State Railroad Museum. This historic structure has a large outdoor area and audio tour. It’s the perfect place to cool off after the morning hike. Learn more.

Zephyr Cove

zephyr cove day tripZephyr Cove is a gorgeous beach resort located on Lake Tahoe. It offers several activities and is a great destination to take in the beautiful views of the lake. You can go boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, or relaxing.

One of the most famous sights in the area is the 2.4-mile gondola ride up Heavenly Mountain. Another fun way to see the lake is the Scenic Flight over Zephyr Cove.

The Zephyr Cove Resort boasts a mile-long sandy beach, and you can rent water toys such as paddleboards, wakeboards, or even a powerboat. The Resort is also home to one of Lake Tahoe’s most popular beach bars, the Sunset Bar & Grill. This restaurant features an outdoor dining area as well as indoor seating.

In addition to the fun floats you can take, the sand at Zephyr Cove is also soft. This makes for a more comfortable beach experience.

If you’re looking for a more active vacation, you can head on a horseback ride. Rides are available in the morning and evening, lasting about 40 minutes.

There are many other things to do in Zephyr Cove, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious. The Bean Bar Coffee House is a great spot to stop and have a coffee in the morning.

While you’re in town, make sure to check out the Nevada Beach and Round Mound Trail, which is a 4.1-mile, flat trail that is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Learn more.


D.L. Bliss State Park

DL Bliss state parkLocated on the shores of Lake Tahoe, DL Bliss State Park is a great place to relax and hang out. It is also one of the area’s most popular hiking and camping sites. The Park offers several campgrounds, sandy beaches, and hiking trails.

DL Bliss State Park is home to Rubicon Point, the highest-elevation lighthouse in the United States. In addition, it features one of the prettiest beaches in Lake Tahoe. If you’re interested in learning more about the site, you can take a tour of the Vikingsholm Castle, which is open for guided tours during the summer.

DL Bliss State park has several popular hiking trails, including the Balancing Rock Trail and the Lighthouse Trail. This wooden structure is a spectacular overlook and has become a national landmark.

One of the most stunning views of the lake is at Rubicon Point. You can hike from Emerald Bay to DL Bliss State Beach, with incredible overlooks.

The Park is also home to the Rubicon Point Lighthouse, a wooden structure once the highest-elevation lighthouse in the world. Visitors can access this trail by taking a mile-long hike from the visitor center or carpooling to the trailhead.

DL Bliss State Campground has campsites that range in price. Camping is usually open from mid-May through early September. Several campsites are in pine forests, while others are on the beach. There are 165 campsites in total. Some are tent-only, and others are RV and yurt. Learn more.

Sugar Pine State Park

lake tahoe sugar pine beachSugar Pine State Park is one of Lake Tahoe’s most beautiful and scenic areas. Located south of Tahoe City, the Park offers a pier, a beach, a state park RV campground, and a 2,000-acre forest. It is a perfect place for a day trip.

The Washoe Indians used the area for hunting and fishing. You can still see evidence of the Washoes’ occupation. During summers, they came to the shores of Tahoe and occupied an informal summer residence called Pine Lodge. They also socialized with friends and relatives.

In addition to hiking and swimming, there is a paved bike trail along the lake’s west shore. This trail starts at the town of Truckee and extends south to Sugar Pine Point State Park.

While you are at Sugar Pine Point, you can take a tour of the famous Ehrman Mansion. Also called Pine Lodge, the mansion was built in 1903. Located in a pine grove, it offers an interesting view of the lifestyles of the wealthy in the early 1900s.

There are two boathouses at Sugar Pine State Park. One is the old boathouse, where you can see the train tracks leading into the water. Another is the South Boathouse. Both offer rentals and moorings.

Sugar Pine State Park has many beautiful trails. Popular trails include the Rod Beaudry Trail, Dolder Nature Trail, and Lakefront Interpretive Trail. Various cross-country skiing trails are also available. A visitor center is open daily from Memorial Day weekend through September 30.

You can take a kayak tour if you want to spend only some of the day hiking. Several special kayak tours are offered through California State Parks. Learn more.

Van Sickle Bi-State Park

van sickle bi state parkOne of the most popular attractions in South Lake Tahoe is Van Sickle Bi-State Park. Located on the Nevada-California border, this Park offers a variety of hiking trails, including the popular Van Sickle Trail. It is easy to access and has some of the best views of the Jewel of the Sierra.

This 165 km loop through the Carson and Sierra Nevada ranges around Lake Tahoe has been named a top ten trail by National Geographic Adventure magazine. It is a great place to hike for anyone. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, the Van Sickle Trail is a great choice for an alpine adventure.

The Park’s day-use areas feature picnic tables, restrooms, and accessible wheelchair parking. During the winter, snowshoeing and horseback riding are permitted.

In addition to the Van Sickle Trail, the area has a variety of hiking and mountain biking trails. These trails connect with the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Daggett Trail System.

A new bridge has been installed across a waterfall at the Park. There are also several points to jump off into the lake.

Visitors are welcome to stay in cabins or other facilities at the Park. This 725-acre Park features a 1917 log cabin.

Throughout the year, Van Sickle Bi-State Park provides access to the Tahoe Rim Trail. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and equestrians can enjoy the dozens of miles of trails.

This is a popular spot for hiking and biking, but there are other places where sledding is allowed. Pack plenty of water and snacks to make sure you have a great experience. You can use the All Trails App to find all of the trails in the area. Learn more.


Even a one day trip to Lake Tahoe can be a memorable and enjoyable experience. The lake’s crystal clear waters and stunning natural beauty are truly breathtaking. Take time  to try some of the delicious local food and stroll the charming shops and boutiques. While you would have loved to stay longer and explore more of the area, be grateful for the opportunity to visit such a beautiful and unique destination.


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