Posts Tagged ‘Calawee Cove Beach’

This summer we spent a glorious week in west Lake Tahoe and managed a hike every day. These were our favourites:-

Eagle Rock Hike

This is a perfect short but fun hike for small children.  Park at the well-marked trail head on route 89 about half a mile north of Tahoe Pines and head west along the path. At first you’ll travel through shady forests along a flat path before the trail climbs gradually up the hill to the peak of the crag. There is some easy scrambling over stones at the top which our kids really enjoyed. The view from the summit is amazing and it only takes about twenty minutes to reach the top. Take the same trail down and back to the car. Highly recommended for reluctant hikers!

Eagle Peak

Eagle Peak

Eagle Lake Hike

This is a more challenging hike. Our four year old loved it and walked/climbed the whole thing with ease. Our intrepid two year old completed most of the hike under his own steam, although he wanted to be carried on the easier (more boring for him?) parts of the trail at the start and end. The hike isn’t too long—one mile each way from parking lot to lake—but it is rather steep and craggy in parts with large steps and boulders to be negotiated. The destination is well worth the effort as the trail leads you up to beautiful Eagle Lake. This is a perfect spot for a picnic and paddle. I strongly recommend taking water shoes, a towel and a change of clothes if your children like water as much as ours do.

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake

To find the trail head park  in the Eagle Falls Picnic Area parking lot on route 89 about 9 miles north of South Lake Tahoe. Note that there is a parking fee so make sure to bring cash. You also need to fill in a wilderness permit before heading up the trail—find these by the map near the toilet block. Also note that parking here is limited and this is a very popular trail. We went early (arriving in the parking lot before 9.30am) which meant we could grab one of the much-coveted parking spots and enjoy the trail and the lake before the foot traffic became too heavy.

On the trail

On the trail

Cascade Falls Hike

This is another great hike for preschoolers. It’s an easy one mile each way from parking lot to the falls with only minimal (about 100 feet) elevation gain.  Although the trail starts off wide and easy, it does get more challenging with rocky outcrops and boulders to negotiate.  The drop off at the side of the cliff is quite steep and the bare rocky parts can be slippery, so you’ll want to keep little ones close by.  We hiked to the falls and then continued on a couple of hundred feet to a wonderful spot above the falls where the creek ran over granite rocks making lots of little pools where the kids could paddle. (If you do this make sure to go a safe distance upstream of the waterfall and keep a close eye on the kids). The view up there is incredible with mountains on one side and Cascade Lake on the other.

Paddling pool in the mountains

Paddling pool in the mountains

To find this trail turn into the Bay View Campsite opposite the Inspiration Point parking lot on route 89 north of South Lake Tahoe. Drive to the end of the camp ground to find the free trail head parking. There’s no need to fill out a wilderness permit if you’re only hiking to the falls. Note however that like all popular Tahoe hikes the parking is limited and you’ll struggle to find a spot if you arrive after mid-morning.

Dolder Nature Trail, Sugar Point State Park

This is another gentle walk perfect for reluctant preschool hikers. Just head into the park and leave your car in the lot near the lodge. There is a day use fee at the park. The trail is a flat 2.1 miles that winds through the forest and then along the lakeshore and past America’s highest lighthouse. Allow plenty of time in the woods for free play and take a picnic to enjoy on Sugar Point’s relatively empty beaches.

The beach below the lighthouse

The beach below the lighthouse

Lighthouse/Rubicon Trail, D L Bliss State Park

Calawee Beach

Calawee Cove Beach


This is a lovely, scenic short hike of a little over a mile that ends on the glorious sandy beach at Calawee Cove.  To access the trail, enter the state park and drive down to the beach parking lot. The path leaves from the furthest parking area. Take the shady light house trail up to the viewpoint and then return via the old lighthouse trail along the coast. The first part of the hike is fairly easy, but there is some scrambling along the cliff edge on the return leg – keep little ones close.  Afterwards relax with a picnic on the beach.  Note there are day use fees at D L Bliss and again there is very limited parking in the beach lot. If you arrive past 9.30am in high season you’re unlikely to find a spot.


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This weekend we drove up to D L Bliss State Park on the South Lake Tahoe shoreline just north of Emerald Bay for a spot of camping. This beautiful and popular state park offers it all: camping, beach access, incredible views of the lake, and some great day hikes.  It’s also rather sprawling with 4 camping ‘loops’ which vary greatly in character. The sites near the beach have amazing views but are small, close together, and lacking privacy.  The sites higher up the hillside in the woods are larger and more private, some backing onto the wilderness to the extent they almost qualify as ‘walk-in’ sites. If you value quiet and privacy (as we do) I’d recommend the Ridge Campground (sites 91-114) and Pines Campground (sites 1-90).  The park has good, if old, facilities with plentiful toilet and shower blocks in each loop (bring quarters).  I had heard that guests at the park frequently encounter bears, but we didn’t see any (sadly) and each site comes with a huge bear box which minimises the chance of attracting wildlife.  There were lots of chipmunks and giant pinecones which the kids loved however.

Get a load of these pinecones Mom!

Our kids were happy playing with the rocks, pinecones, and sticks in the forest around our campsite for much of the time, but there are plenty of other things to do:-

Balancing Rock Nature Trail

Happy Trails

This is the shortest, most toddler-friendly trek in the park. It’s only half a mile long and on a wide, dirt track that winds round a huge granite outcrop, down the mountain and along the creek, and back up to the parking lot.  The trail would probably be suitable for jog strollers were it not for the fallen tree one currently has to scramble under at the creek.  It is officially a self-guided nature trail and has numerous markers indicating sites of interest. Unfortunately, no informational leaflets were available at the start of the trail as promised.  My boys enjoyed it anyway.  The Monkey had a great time scrambling down the trail finding all the numbers and was thrilled to discover that the giant granite balancing rock of the title looks a bit like a tyrannosaurus rex head.

T-Rex Head


Calawee Cove Beach

There are two lovely beaches in the park, Calawee Cove Beach and Lester Beach. The steps down to Calawee Cove are fairly steep. My three year old could manage them, but if you have a lot of stuff, or a boat, you might want to just head to Lester Beach where you can park feet from the sand.  Both beaches are small and can get a bit crowded in high season, but the views are spectacular and the colour of the lake an unbelievable blue. The boys had a great time paddling, watching the boats, and building driftwood forts. If you take food down to the beach, be prepared to fight off some of the most persistent and aggressive geese you’ve ever met.

Excited boys on Lester Beach

A fun nearby hike: Vikingsholm State Park

A couple of miles south of the park you’ll find the parking lot for Vikingsholm State Park–be warned, go early in the day as the parking lots gets insanely busy by mid-morning. The trail leads straight down the cliff but is gentle enough for toddlers to manage it with ease.  You could take a jog stroller as long if you don’t mind pushing it back up the hill at the end.  At the base of the cliff is a beautiful little beach and lagoon and the Vikingsholm itself.

Vikingsholm is the attractive summer residence built to the order of Mrs Lora J Knight of Santa Barbara in the style of a Norwegian farmstead. It has beautiful towers, wood carvings, and sod roof and is well worth a poke around. Even more fun, however, is the fact that Mrs Knight built a Tea Castle–yes, a castle in which to take afternoon tea–on the island (the only one in Lake Tahoe) that lies a couple of hundred feet off the shore.  The kids enjoyed looking at the house, walking out on the jetty, and exploring the shoreline. Again, beware the crazy aggressive geese if you bring food.

The perfect setting for afternoon tea.

All in all Emerald Bay is an easy place to go with toddlers. It’s perhaps a little busy and ‘touristy’ feeling for my tastes, but if you get out onto the trails or into the woods you can get away from the crowds. And it really is spectacular scenery.

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