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Mountain magnificence: Fallen Leaf Lake provides virtually every little thing that Tahoe does—with out the large crowds

4 min read

As summer time winds down and the mountain air turns crisp, there’s nonetheless loads of enjoyable available on lengthy days. Lake Tahoe is looking—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 bushes and stuffed with leisure alternatives on, in and round its clear, cool waters.

There are a number of roads resulting in Fallen Leaf Lake, however the principle one is a flip off of Freeway 89 close to Camp Richardson. A brief drive down this U.S. Forest Service highway will deliver 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 bathrooms, coin-operated showers and potable water.

Trails wind by means of the world, providing picturesque views of the rectangular alpine lake. A stroll alongside the shore provides 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, identical to Emerald Bay, which was fashioned the identical means.

In earlier colder eras, the basin containing Fallen Leaf Lake was dry and supported a forest atmosphere, much like the one surrounding the lake right this moment. Because the Earth warmed, and the Tahoe Basin crammed with water, Fallen Leaf Lake additionally crammed. There’s proof of this historical forest being abruptly lined by water, as a forest of now-petrified bushes is preserved effectively under the floor of the lake. This distinctive function has protected standing and may 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 completely different it could have appeared 1000’s of years in the past.

Native firms can information you on a dive into the waters of the lake, when you have the appropriate diving certifications. If that’s not your jam, loads of different recreation alternatives abound. Paddling on this lake might be very pleasant, 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 supply simple entry into the water. Should you’re in search of an journey, some hidden cliffs might be discovered alongside one space of the lake. Whereas individuals generally soar off of those cliffs into the deep water under, it’s harmful and never beneficial—however the view from the highest continues to be well worth the go to.

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

Fallen Leaf Lake is linked to Lake Tahoe through Taylor Creek. This connection permits some fish to journey between the 2 lakes—most notably, the kokanee salmon. This non-native species has change into a neighborhood favourite to observe within the fall. Nearer to the Tahoe finish of Taylor Creek, a U.S. Forest Service customer heart and paved footpaths present up-close appears to be like on the annual upstream migration of this brilliant 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 concentrate on your environment!


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

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

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