Lake Tahoe State Park: Gateway to adventures

With its sandy beaches, Sand Harbor is one of the many attractions found at Lake Tahoe, Nevada State Park.

With its sandy beaches, Sand Harbor is one of the many attractions found at Lake Tahoe, Nevada State Park.

If there us one place that can serve as a good introduction to the host of recreational activities found at Lake Tahoe it’s Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park.

Located at the northeastern edge of Lake Tahoe, three miles south of Incline Village, the park encompasses a number of the lake’s best recreational spots and most scenic sites including Sand Harbor, the Lake Tahoe Flume Trail, Spooner Lake and part of the Tahoe Rim Trail.

As a result, the park, dedicated in 1971, is a gateway to all that Lake Tahoe has to offer. Along with boating, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and catch-and-release fishing—it offers what many consider the best views of the lake.

Spread over 14,242 acres of land and water, Lake Tahoe State Park is the most popular park in the Nevada State Park system—and with good reason.

For starters, there’s Sand Harbor, which has perhaps the finest sandy beaches found on the lake. Sand Harbor is also one of the lake’s most picturesque spots with its tall pine trees, crystal clear waters, and a shore lined with magnificent large, round boulders.

Additionally, Sand Harbor has a boat launch ramp, covered group picnic areas, nature hikes and bathroom facilities.

Every August, Sand Harbor is the site of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, a month-long celebration of the works of the Bard. Performances of plays such as “Romeo and Juliet” or “Hamlet” (the selections vary each year) are held nightly on an outdoor stage erected on the beach.

Above Sand Harbor is the Flume Trail, a popular hiking and mountain-biking path that follows the route of a 19th century lumber flume system. To reach the Flume Trail, you first hike or ride Marlette Lake Trail, a five-mile stretch into the Sierra Nevada range that begins at Spooner Lake (which is also part of Lake Tahoe State Park).

The trailhead is signed at Spooner Lake.

Marlette Lake is a scenic small, manmade body of water that was created in the mid-19th century to provide water for the flumes (wooden chutes filled with water) that carried lumber from the Sierra Nevada range to Carson City. Today, Marlette provides drinking water to Carson City and Virginia City.

The Flume Trail begins at the south end of Marlette and winds down the mountainside — offering amazing views of Lake Tahoe — before ending at Tunnel Creek Road in Incline Village.

The Marlette Lake Trail also connects to several other trails including the Tahoe Rim Trail, a route that encircles the lake along the mountain ridges.

Other highlights of the park include Hidden Beach, a secluded beach area south of Sand Harbor, Memorial Point, and Spooner Lake, which serves as the trailhead for several backcountry hikes.

South of Spooner Lake, along U.S. 50 near Zephyr Cove, is Cave Rock, another part of Lake Tahoe State Park. In addition to being an historic site — it was the source of several Washo Indian legends — it is also a popular spot for boat launching and fishing.

The state park system has an entrance fee booth at Sand Harbor, which is also a good place to ask for information about the park. Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park is located about 25 miles northwest of Carson City via U.S. 50 and Nevada State Route 28.

There is a day use fee at the park, which is open year round during daylight hours. For more information go to

Rich Moreno covers the places and people that make Nevada special.


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