Mountain magnificence: Fallen Leaf Lake gives nearly every little thing that Tahoe does—with out the huge crowds

As summer time winds down and the mountain air turns crisp, there’s nonetheless loads of enjoyable available on lengthy days. Lake Tahoe is asking—however its smaller neighbor, Fallen Leaf Lake, has simply as a lot to supply the intrepid explorer.

Situated a few mile from the southwestern shores of Tahoe, close to Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake is ringed in timber and filled with leisure alternatives on, in and round its clear, cool waters.

There are a number of roads resulting in Fallen Leaf Lake, however the primary one is a flip off of Freeway 89 close to Camp Richardson. A brief drive down this U.S. Forest Service street will carry you to the campground managed by the USFS Lake Tahoe Basin Administration Unit, with greater than 200 campsites inside simple strolling distance of the lake. This massive campground helps each tents and RVs, with electrical energy hook-ups, restrooms with flush bogs, coin-operated showers and potable water.

Trails wind by the world, providing picturesque views of the rectangular alpine lake. A stroll alongside the shore gives a glimpse into the geological historical past of the Tahoe Basin; the lake was fashioned by the gradual scraping of glaciers. The various small hills surrounding the lake are moraines—leftover piles of gravel, stones and different particles picked up by glaciers and deposited alongside their edges. If the glacier that fashioned the basin had continued one other couple of miles, Fallen Leaf Lake would have been one other outcropping of Lake Tahoe, similar to Emerald Bay, which was fashioned the identical method.

In earlier colder eras, the basin containing Fallen Leaf Lake was dry and supported a forest setting, just like the one surrounding the lake at this time. Because the Earth warmed, and the Tahoe Basin full of water, Fallen Leaf Lake additionally stuffed. There’s proof of this historic forest being abruptly coated by water, as a forest of now-petrified timber is preserved properly beneath the floor of the lake. This distinctive function has protected standing and might solely be considered by divers heading deep beneath the floor. Whereas standing alongside the shores of the lake, it’s simple to think about how totally different it might have appeared 1000’s of years in the past.

Native firms can information you on a dive into the waters of the lake, you probably have the precise diving certifications. If that’s not your jam, loads of different recreation alternatives abound. Paddling on this lake could be very pleasing, significantly within the nonetheless mornings earlier than the wind picks up, alongside the more-sheltered western shore. Motorized boats are allowed, with loads of room for waterskiing and different high-octane sports activities. Although there aren’t any designated swimming areas within the lake, loads of spots provide simple entry into the water. When you’re in search of an journey, some hidden cliffs could be discovered alongside one space of the lake. Whereas individuals generally bounce off of those cliffs into the deep water beneath, it’s harmful and never really helpful—however the view from the highest remains to be well worth the go to.

Exploring the paths across the lake is a pleasing, and normally less-crowded, technique to spend a while in Tahoe’s woods. Longer trails hikes could be discovered as properly, together with a hike up and alongside Angora Ridge to the south. The trailhead to the highest of Mount Tallac is close by—however be sure you do the suitable analysis and preparation earlier than tackling this grueling climb.

Fallen Leaf Lake is related to Lake Tahoe by way of Taylor Creek. This connection permits some fish to journey between the 2 lakes—most notably, the kokanee salmon. This non-native species has grow to be an area favourite to observe within the fall. Nearer to the Tahoe finish of Taylor Creek, a U.S. Forest Service customer middle and paved footpaths present up-close seems on the annual upstream migration of this vivid pink and purple salmon. As they head towards Fallen Leaf Lake, these salmon current a colourful present to anybody watching, for a number of weeks across the finish of September and starting of October. They’re additionally a favourite meals of the native black bear inhabitants, so pay attention to your environment!


Simply up the street is Camp Richardson, one other campground, set of seashores and historic website. If you end up tenting at Fallen Leaf Lake on a sizzling day, the seasonal ice cream store at Camp Richardson could have the afternoon deal with you’re craving.

Although it’s hidden within the timber and generally forgotten about, Fallen Leaf Lake gives all one of the best actions of summer time and fall. From tenting and mountain climbing to swimming and fishing, this close by alpine lake is steeped in pure magnificence and is a good place for a day journey or a weekend escape.