Lake Tahoe has long been beloved among Bay Area adventure seekers as a year-round mecca for outdoor pursuits, with its 300 days of sunshine and gorgeous alpine landscape prime for hiking, mountain biking, road riding, and paddling, not to mention 400 inches of snowfall that makes for some of California’s most coveted skiing and snowboarding.
And, as locals well know, spring is an especially sublime time of year in Lake Tahoe, with sunny days and fewer crowds as the ski season winds to a close. If you need another reason for a visit, consider the burgeoning craft beer scene—Alibi Ale Works, a cool craft brewery that opened in late 2014 in Incline Village, is the latest celebrated addition—that makes a perfect complement to a day spent getting after it in the great outdoors.
Which is where the North Lake Tahoe Ale Trail comes in, by helping both visitors and locals alike to check out a new (or new to them) adventure-centric experience, followed up with a well-earned adult beverage at a local watering hole. With a nifty interactive map of paddling, hiking, and biking routes and pop-up windows of videos, trail beta, and recommendations for bars and restaurants, the ale trail offers a handy way to explore adventure-and-adult-beverage pairings in Tahoe for both locals and visitors.
"With craft breweries continuously exploding in North Lake Tahoe, we had thought about creating a brewery map, but, the more and more we looked at it, the more we realized that wouldn't work," says Andy Chapman, CEO of Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau and an avid road biker. "The vibe that makes North Lake Tahoe so authentically alpine is the fact that outdoor activities are ingrained into every aspect of the culture. Locals and visitors alike spend the majority of a day outside exploring, and frequently end the activity with a great beverage. The Ale Trail simply expanded upon a pattern that has always existed in the area."
Here, a few recommended ways to enjoy the North Lake Tahoe Ale Trail, yet another reason to raise a glass to Tahoe and make an autumn getaway to NorCal's favorite alpine lake before the flakes start falling.
Paddling, Then a Cocktail at Pier 111
The dazzling aquamarine waters of Lake Tahoe are best enjoyed up close, which means grabbing your paddle and hopping in a canoe or kayak. The East Shore is a prime spot, with boulders dotting the surface and intricate passageways that are a blast to navigate through.
As of late, Tahoe has kicked up its reputation as an SUP hotspot, too, with races throughout the summer and fall. Say farewell to the SUP season with the Tahoe Fall Classic, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 26. The event, now in its third year, is a 22-mile point-to-point race from Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe to Kings Beach on the North Shore.
Whether you come for this hard-charging race or a lazy paddle, you’ll want to cap off your water-based adventure with a toast at one of Tahoe’s buzziest bars, Pier 111 at the Hyatt Regency, which offers a California-cool take on the floating bar concept. (Hotel guests can launch their SUP right from the hotel property, while other paddlers can put in at the Hidden Beach area, just east of Incline Village.)
Hiking, Then Hops at Mellow Fellow
Lake Tahoe offers a head-spinning array of hikes in the Incline Village, Kings Beach, and Crystal Bay areas, from easy lakeside strolls to lung-busting treks with views that will take your breath away (if the effort doesn’t). Serious hikers head to Mt. Rose, the 10,377-foot peak that’s the highest in the region. It’s a 12-mile round-trip route to make it to the top, including a final two-mile scramble over slick switchbacks, with splendid views of the alpine lake, Reno, and the surrounding 30,000-acre Mt. Rose Wilderness. Once you’ve made it back down, you’ve certainly earned your beers at Mellow Fellow , a groovy gastropub whose name belies its low-key vibe.
Mountain Biking, Then Beer at Tahoe Mountain Brewing
One of the most coveted adventure offerings in the area is the Tahoe Rim Trail, and experience dirt junkies will love navigating a 20-mile section that boasts great cross-country riding, sustained climbs, and flowy, fun descents. Along the way, views of the lake as well as wildflowers in high meadows add to the spectacular experience. Afterward, ease the saddle soreness by soaking up some of the beers on tap at Tahoe Mountain Brewing . Try the Hop Song, a refreshing IPA with tropical flavors that locals love.