Bikes, Boats, Trolleys and Cars: Getting Around Lake Tahoe
  • By Susanne Haala
    Tahoe Magazine

    Lake Tahoe provides locals and visitors a variety of outdoor delights, from beautiful weather to abundant scenic vistas to fantastic recreational activities. And there is a growing push to return the lake’s favors by going green. One big way people can help is by getting out of their cars.

    Alternative transportation benefits users with affordable rates, and gives a nod to the lake by helping preserve it for future generations.

    By bicycle

    Riding in a car, the views of the lake can come up fast. Sometimes, the moment you see one, you’ve already passed by. Or, even worse, crowded parking areas can make you move on and miss out on unique spots altogether.

    One way to solve these problems? Change your pedals.

    Stopping to take in the Jewel of the Sierra is a lot easier on a bike, and you won’t face the possibility of getting towed away or finding a parking ticket under your wiper blade.

    Riding a bike at Lake Tahoe is a popular way to save some money, get a little exercise, enjoy the scenery and help keep Lake Tahoe’s environment healthy.

    Numerous road construction projects around the lake each summer also make bikes an especially smart option over a car.

    Take your helmet, water and a camera for a less than 30-minute excursion from Incline Village to Sand Harbor and look forward to a hassle-free spin. A nearly continuous nine mile bike path along Lake Tahoe’s West Shore also offers up stellar views of Lake Tahoe between Homewood and Tahoe City. The path continues along the Truckee River to Squaw Valley.

    “A great way to see Tahoe in the summer is taking a bike ride along the Truckee River,” said Lake Tahoe resident Adam Ramos. “The paved four mile stretch from Squaw Valley to Tahoe City is a lot of fun and offers great scenery.”

    At the South Shore, a family friendly bike path starts just north of the “Y” and takes you past historic Camp Richardson while providing easy access to area beaches.

    More adventurous mountain bikers might enjoy the Tahoe Rim Trail, which offers mountain biking on about 50 percent of its 165 miles.

    “Hike or bike sections of the Rim Trail, it offers great views from any angle,” said Truckee resident Erick Saine. “On or off road there is miles of terrain to discover while cycling in the Lake Tahoe region.”

    The Flume Trail, on Lake Tahoe’s East Shore, provides stunning views of Lake Tahoe above Sand Harbor. While the trail starts with a long, strenuous uphill, a shuttle service is available during the summer and helps eliminate some of the leg work.

    Bike rentals are available at numerous locations around the lake. Full day rentals generally run about $30.

    A map of Lake Tahoe bike paths and lanes is available at

    More information on the Flume Trail is available at More information on the Tahoe Rim Trail at is available at

    By Boat

    As you may suspect, boating is big on a lake affectionately known as “Big Blue.” And those looking to get out on the water may have a new way to go this summer. A pilot water taxi is expected to start at the  North Shore by June 30 and feature round trip service between Homewood, Sunnyside and Tahoe City.

    The service will be “a unique way to experience the area for the visitors” and will have room for 20 passengers at a time, according to Carl Hasty, district manager for the Tahoe Transportation District.

    Boat rental shops can be found all around the lake and offer a wide range of boats and jet skis. Rentals can cost upward of $700 a day, but smaller size boats for a romantic sunset ride can be found for about $200 and are sure to end a day in a beautiful unforgettable atmosphere.

    Kayaks or paddle boards are a still cheaper alternative to motorized boats and can be rented for about $80 a day from area shops. There are also several companies that offer boat tours and allow you to kick back and relax.

    Emerald Bay, which invites with its scenery at the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe, is the most popular — and one of the most rewarding — day trips for Lake Tahoe boaters.

    By Bus and Trolley

    While taking the bus may not be the most glamorous option to get around at Lake Tahoe, public transit eliminates one of the biggest headaches at the lake in the summer: driving.

    BlueGo is the public bus system at the South Shore and Tahoe Area Regional Transit provides bus service at the North Shore.

    More information on North Shore routes is available at and information for the South Shore can be found at

    If you prefer an open air experience, trolley services are also offered by the bus services during the warmer months.

    The year round Truckee Trolley operates three routes between Truckee, Northstar and Kings Beach from 9:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday, depending on weather and traffic conditions.

    For more information on TART routes call 530-550-1212 or 800-736-6365. For more information on BlueGo Routes call 530-541-7149.

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