Riding or walking the Tahoe East Shore Trail is a majestic experience!
By Paul Andrew
If Tahoe can claim “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride,” the annual bicycle event around the Lake, then surely the recently completed Tahoe East Shore Trail, from Incline Village to Sand Harbor is “The World’s Most Beautiful Trail.” Opened in 2019, this spectacular path, available to both bikes and walkers, offers breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, and is an unforgettable experience for visitors and locals alike.
The trail begins off Highway 28 on the east side of Incline Village, with parking available in front of the old Ponderosa Ranch location. Stop in the Tunnel Creek Café for a cup of java, pastry or sandwich before the journey. If you need two wheels, you can rent bikes at Flume Trail Bikes, behind Tunnel Creek Cafe, Village Ski Loft in Incline Village, or Shoreline Bikes if you are coming from South Shore.
The path ascends up a brief climb on the mountain side of the highway, with a lookout offering panoramic views of the lake, mountains and pine trees. Remember, this ride isn’t a qualifying race for the “Tour de France,” so take your time, enjoy the spectacle, and be aware of kids, strollers, people and dogs meandering along this wonderful journey. Crowd-wise, it’s best to go as early in the morning as possible.
The decent takes you to a loop under the highway to the lake side of the trail, which parallels the water for the remainder of the trek. Numerous lookouts and trails to the water offer many unobstructed opportunities to take advantage of the pristine colors that Lake Tahoe has to offer. A bridge built over the water, provides close-up, exquisite views of the lake, and the multitude of colors unique to Lake Tahoe.
The route ends three miles up the trail at Sand Harbor Beach, where additional trails on the point can be explored, though bikes must be parked before entering the beach. The journey back is just as breathtaking, with the same incredible scenery from a different vantage point.
Local’s tip: (Promise not to tell anyone I told you this?) To extend this beautiful ride, there is a small parking lot at the west end of Lakeshore Drive. From there, the existing path in front of the beautifully landscaped multi-millions dollar homes gives riders/walkers an additional ten miles round trip. A quick diversion up Village Boulevard into the quaint town provides a variety of shopping, eating and drinking options. Hunger can be tamed with a massive burrito at T’s Rotisserie, or experience a local brew made with Tahoe water at Alibi Brewing Company.
Plans are in the works to extend the trail from Sand Harbor up to Spooner Summit, adding eight more miles to the path. A collaboration of many local agencies, this endeavor gives visitors and locals the opportunity to experience Lake Tahoe up close, but will help alleviate congestion from all the cars currently parking up Highway 28. The more people who are able enjoy our beautiful lake, plus keep the area clean and pollution free, the better our chances are to preserve this gem for generations to come.
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