The Fall foliage in South Lake Tahoe has already made its first appearance, and we are loving it! Fall is the favorite season to many, specifically because of the gorgeous fall colors and crisp refreshing air. Although we might not have all the glorious colors they have over in New England, we have enough Quaking Aspens and Cottonwood trees that contrast spectacularly against our bright blue Tahoe sky and the impressive backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Mid-October is generally the best fall foliage viewing time, but it is only the first week in October and some of the Aspen groves have already started gracing us with their fall colors. Where are the best places to see our Tahoe fall foliage in action? Here are our top five favorite spots on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe to get that perfect Fall foliage picture.
This stunning valley is just south of bustling South Lake Tahoe and Meyers, and west of the Carson Valley. Being a primarily undeveloped area, Hope Valley is popular for hiking, fishing, bird-watching, and cross country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. In the fall, it is the number one destination for those seeking the golden colors of fall. It is only a quick twenty minute drive from South Lake Tahoe, and the views and picture opportunities are worth it. With trails that meander through the meadow along a river, combined with the backdrop of the Sierra Mountains, makes Hope Valley the best spot to see some Fall colors.
To Get There: From Meyers take Highway 89 and it will bring you right in to Hope Valley.
The Taylor Creek area around fall is a great place to stop by for some excellent foliage pictures. The paved, flat trails are lined with aspen trees, making it a great place to go with elderly or small children as everything is easily accessible. During weekends the Taylor Creek Visitor Center is open, providing a great opportunity to learn more about the environment in the area. The trails also have educational signs on them informing you of local flora, fauna and fish! Speaking of fish, one bonus when visiting Taylor Creek in the fall, you will be able to watch the Kokanee Salmon spawning in the creek right next to (and under) the trail.
To Get There: When at the ‘Y’ in South Lake Tahoe, drive 3 miles north on Highway 89, it is just beyond Camp Richardson.
Viewing the fall foliage at Marlette Lake requires a moderate hike, so it is only suitable for those that are fairly active and able. The out-and-back hike is 9 miles total, and can take around five hours depending on your pace (and how many times you stop and take photos of the trees). If you are up for an adventure, this will be extremely rewarding for viewing the gorgeous colors of the Aspens. The Marlette Lake Trail in North Canyon is lined with aspens, and there are more on the shores of the lake when you reach Marlette Lake. The reflections of the golden aspen leaves on the blue lake water is very picturesque.
To Get There: From South Lake Tahoe head north on Highway 50, turn left onto Highway 28 and then turn into the Spooner Lake State Park.
Lam Watah Trail/Rabe Meadow
This is a very easy and convenient spot to view some gorgeous golden colors. Located just beyond the casinos, this meadow has a 2.1 miles out-and-back paved trail system that takes you to the shore of Lake Tahoe at Nevada Beach. Aspen trees line the trail, and are gorgeous in the fall once they start to change colors. The trail system, was recently been renovated and there is a paved walkway all the way down to the water. This fall foliage viewing spot is great for kids and families as it is convenient and an easy stroll. They also have educational signs along the trail informing you of some very interesting history of the Washoe Indians.
To Get There: Just beyond Lakeside Casino park at the small parking lot at Kahle Drive across from Sushi Pier.
Perhaps the best spot right on Lake Tahoe to view the gorgeous fall colors, is at Zephyr Cove. Here, you can get the fall colors with the unparalleled backdrop of Lake Tahoe and Mt. Tallac. In the fall, you won’t have to worry about the crowds typically seen in the summer months. There is not better photo backdrop to golden aspens as the crystal blue waters of Lake Tahoe. Pack a picnic and go there in the late afternoon when the light shines right on the shore, and then stay and watch the sunset. Don’t forget to bring some extra layers, as the evening temperatures are getting chilly!
To Get There: Take Highway 50 north, four miles beyond the casinos is Zephyr Cove Resort.