Canoeing and Kayaking

Donner Lake: From Donner Creek Dam

Description: Donner Lake lies just west of Truckee at 5,933 feet. In summer, as the morning progresses, it becomes a busy recreational lake: at the west end, the public boat ramp is much in demand; the well-maintained, public swimming beach fills up with parents and children; the paddle boats creak and a few jet-skis scream. People fish, sail, and water-ski, but the lake never seems too crowded. It’s three miles long and a half-mile wide, and the further east you go, the quieter it becomes. If you drive down to the east end of the lake, the well-shaded woods are cool and pleasant to walk through, and the swimming is unsupervised, yet safe. If you want real exercise, there’s an excellent, 6-mile paddle waiting for you.

Lake Valley Reservoir

Directions: Head West I-80 towards Sacramento take Yuba Gap exit, south on Lake Valley Rd bearing to the right at the “y” stay on Lake Valley Rd until junction at 1.4 miles. Go left on Mears Meadow Road (Forest service road 19) to Silvertip Picnic area and a concrete boat ramp. About 1.8 miles from I-80. Description: Forested mountain lake that is great for the family. Peaceful Lake Valley Reservoir invites family outings. The lakeshore varies from rocky to grassy banks. Dense forests surround the lake below ridge tops rising 500 to 1,000 feet above the water. Lake Valley Reservoir is a component of Pacific Gas & Electric’s Drum Spaulding Hydropower Project. Glacier-polished granite adorns two islands that are great for sunbathing, fishing, and midsummer swimming. Sometimes yellowjackets welcome shoreline visitors. The high elevation, reflection from the granite and water, and bright sun can quickly cause sunburn. A major feature on the west shore of the lake is Sky Mountain Camp. Their summer program offers canoeing and other aquatic activities.

Lake Tahoe - Emerald Bay Trip

Directions: Head south on 89 towards Tahoe City, once you reach Tahoe City turn Right at first light. Follow 89 south for about 10 miles and right pass Meeks Creeks Bridge you’ll see it Description: Tahoe needs no introduction as a destination for land-based pursuits, but as a sea-kayaking waterway it’s another matter. Nowhere in the western U.S. can you paddle in waters seeming more pristine than at Lake Tahoe (unless you portage your boat down into Crater Lake and secure permission to paddle). At Tahoe you can still see the granite-sand bottom under your canoe at 50’ depths, and watch the water turn cobalt when you reach really deep water. Deep water is nearby; on this trip there are places within yards of shore where you have more than 1,000 feet of water under your boat. Tahoe is big, and the area is heavily populated. By paddling your canoe early in the morning, you can witness the sunrise from water level, or keep abreast of a family of mergansers at the water’s edge, and be surprisingly alone. Powerboats don’t skim along close to the shore, where huge, underwater boulders, sandy bottoms, and wildlife make your paddle an endless variety of experiences. Midday near a popular marina—especially over the weekend during high season—you cannot avoid close company with powerboats. This trip was carefully chosen to avoid many of those high-usage spots, and allow you to experience a little bit of the Tahoe that was. The route also passes by state park land for one third the distance, showcases vertical granite cliffs plunging underwater to great depths, and allows you to take in the grandeur of glacier-carved Emerald Bay from water level.

Lake Tahoe North Shore: Agatam County Beach

Description: A beach located on the North Shore of the lake that contains a sandy beach, shade for the afternoon, no crowds and free parking is a deal hard to pass up. Agatam County Beach, in the small community of Tahoe Vista on the western limits of King City, is such a spot. It meets and surpasses the requirements for a "choice" day on the beach. From here, you can take a paddle craft and explore the sheltered cove near the beach, practice paddle strokes, teach the kids basic boat-handling skills, or venture out and view the greater expanse of either Carnelian Bay or Agate Bay.

Tahoe Basin Lakes: Donner Lake

Description: The first glance, its difficult to imagine that Donner Lake, this large oval, open body of water, can offer a paddler much enjoyment. However, if you divide the lake into paddling sections, it becomes easier to appreciate Donner Lake and all its charm.
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