Lake Tahoe: It’s still there

March 30, 2015 | Tim Hauserman

We’ve had a pretty sad state of affairs in the snow department this winter. The lack of snow and rain dropped the lake level below the natural rim in the middle of the winter, which is usually when the lake level is rising. The result is that our beaches, especially in shallow locations like Tahoe City, are becoming enormous, requiring a healthy jaunt just to get to the water’s edge.

On the other hand, It’s important to remember what is still there in front of our eyes: An enormous high elevation lake with some of the clearest water in the world. Climbing right from Tahoe’s shoreline high mountains reach an additional 3000 to 4000 feet into the sky. There are dense forests of pine, fir, hemlock and cedar trees blanketing those mountains. Where there is not forest, there are smooth granite faces and craggy volcanic rock adding to the boundless beauty of the scene.  Tahoe really is one of the unique treasures of the world. I’ve been lucky enough to be looking at that lake for over 50 years now and every time I see it, I fall in love again.

What else is impressive about Lake Tahoe?

It’s 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, with an average depth of close to 989 feet. All told that is enough water to cover the entire state of California to 14 inches… but I think it is prettier right where it is. And while the lake is down over 6 feet from it’s highest point, that just a fraction of one percent of the lakes volume. In other words, there is not much missing from the lake, it’s just the part we see at the edge. In fact, Lake Tahoe is so big that it is the sixth largest lake in the United States by volume, only exceeded by the five Great Lakes which all have a much larger surface area.

Over 3/4 of the land within the Tahoe Basin is publicly owned, mostly by the United States Forest Service, but with significant holdings by California and Nevada State Parks. All this public land gives us boundless recreational opportunities on hundreds of miles of dirt roads and hiking and biking trails, including the Tahoe Rim Trail which takes a 170 mile journey around the entire lake.

So take advantage of all the sunshine and get yourself down to Lake Tahoe’s edge. She is waiting to impress.