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Fall for Lake Tahoe’s secret season: Autumn

  • In this photo taken Tuesday Aug. 8, 2017, a pair of paddle boarders ply the waters of Lake Tahoe near Tahoe City, Calif. Lake Tahoe's known for summer and winter fun, but there's a third side to Tahoe: fall, when crowds thin out, rates are cheaper, weather's mild and there's even some leaf-peeping. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • This Aug. 18, 2017 photo shows the sun rise over South Lake Tahoe near Tahoe City, Calif. Lake Tahoe's known for summer and winter fun, but there's a third side to Tahoe: fall, when crowds thin out, rates are cheaper, weather's mild and there's even some leaf-peeping. (Michelle Locke via AP) Michelle Locke

  • This Aug. 18, 2017 photo shows Eagle Lake, a small alpine lake above Lake Tahoe near Tahoe City, Calif. The lake can be reached by way of a one mile moderately difficult hike and is a favorite activity for visitors in summer and fall. (Michelle Locke via AP) Michelle Locke

  • This Aug. 17, 2017 photo shows Eagle Lake, a small alpine lake above Lake Tahoe near Tahoe City, Calif. The lake can be reached by way of a one mile moderately difficult hike and is a favorite activity for visitors in summer and fall. (Michelle Locke via AP) Michelle Locke

  • In this Aug. 18, 2017 photo, boats ride at anchor in South Lake Tahoe as the morning sun turns the hills around the lake pink near Tahoe City, Calif. At 22 miles long and sitting on the state line between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a popular tourist destination in summer and winter, but shows a quieter side in fall. (Michelle Locke via AP) Michelle Locke

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, Jessica Brackett, of South Tahoe Standup Paddle, carries a paddle board along the shore of Lake Tahoe, in South Lake, Calif. Lake Tahoe's known for summer and winter fun, but there's a third side to Tahoe: fall, when crowds thin out, rates are cheaper, weather's mild and there's even some leaf-peeping. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 8. 2017 boats ply the waters of Emerald Bay, near South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Lake Tahoe's known for summer and winter fun, but there's a third side to Tahoe: fall, when crowds thin out, rates are cheaper, weather's mild and there's even some leaf-peeping. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, shops and restaurants line Lake Tahoe Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Lake Tahoe's known for summer and winter fun, but there's a third side to Tahoe: fall, when crowds thin out, rates are cheaper, weather's mild and there's even some leaf-peeping. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • Lilyana Allen, of Guam, uses a telescope to view Lake Tahoe from an observation platform at the Heavenly Mountain Resort during a family visit to South Lake Tahoe, Calif. AP

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 8. 2017 visitors view Emerald Bay on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, near South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Lake Tahoe's known for summer and winter fun, but there's a third side to Tahoe: fall, when crowds thin out, rates are cheaper, weather's mild and there's even some leaf-peeping. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli



Associated Press
Friday, September 01, 2017

Fringed by snow or gleaming cobalt blue under sunny skies, Lake Tahoe is a favorite in summer and winter. But there’s a third side to Tahoe: fall.

As crowds thin out, the region seems to take a breath as it prepares for the seasonal switchover from camping and sailing to ski runs and cozy chalet evenings. Trails are roomier, rates cheaper and the lake waters are beautiful but bracing. All this and leaf-peeping, too.

Here are some suggestions.

The basics

Lake Tahoe is about 22 miles long and 12 miles wide at its widest point and straddles the California-Nevada state line. You can drive all the way around the lake most of the year although part of California Highway 89 along Emerald Bay Road may be closed in winter. Very broadly, the lake is divided up into North Lake Tahoe, reachable by Interstate 80, and South Lake Tahoe (the name of a city as well as an area), reachable by Highway 50. Tahoe City is partway down the lake on the west (California) side.

The east (Nevada) side of the lake is generally less developed, except for casinos in the north and south corners. On the southwest border, the city of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., abuts Stateline, Nev., which is home to a number of casinos. To the north, casinos can be found in Incline Village and Crystal Bay, Nev..

Lodging ranges from mid-century style motels to rentals-by-owner to upscale hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton, part of the Northstar California Resort near Truckee, and the new Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe in Stateline.

Temperatures usually stay mild through September and even into October, although expect cooler temperatures as winter nears. Resorts and outdoor outfitters shut down summer activities as the weather turns.

Leaf peep

Lake Tahoe is surrounded by pines so it’s mostly green. But there are aspen groves that turn russet and gold in the fall. Most trails sport some fall color come mid-September, including the Eagle Lake trail. Another recommended spot is Page Meadow, near Tahoe City, which has a number of trails. To get there, drive 2 miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89, turn on Pineland Drive, and then turn on Forest Service Road 15N60 or 16N48. At the north end, a good place to try is the Tunnel Creek trail in Incline Village.

On the calendar

Two events celebrate food and wine this fall. On the northern side, the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival takes place in Northstar, Sept. 8 to 10, with more than 20 events including dinners, wine tastings, outdoor activities and cooking classes. Ticket prices vary; full weekend, $270, tahoefoodandwine.com. On Sept. 16, Sample the Sierra in South Lake Tahoe pairs offerings from more than 20 restaurants as well as growers and producers with wine, beer or spirits. Locally made art, jewelry and crafts will also be featured at the festival marketplace; Bijou Community Park, 1201 Al Tahoe Boulevard, $40, samplethesierra.com.