NORTH LAKE TAHOE – Fall is arguably the best time to savor North America’s largest alpine lake.

The winter ski season is months away and the seemingly wall-to-wall humanity that is the summer season is in the rearview mirror.

They call it low season primarily because demand for South Shore vacation rentals and hotel-casino rooms is declining, bringing with it lower rates.

It’s not the off season for Mother Nature as fish, fowl, beasts and flora relish the warm days that end with growing chill in the air as Mother Nature prepares for the coming winter. .

Having spent the first half of my life in Placer County which encompasses the northwest corner of the 191 square mile lake, I have literally enjoyed the charms of Lake Tahoe over a hundred times with most of it along from the north shore.

There was a three year period where almost every Wednesday afternoon from May to October I would throw a race bike at the car and ride 90 miles to downtown Truckee, hop on my bike, climb to the top of Brockway at 7,221 feet, relished the rapid 1,000 foot descent to the lake, cycled west along the lake, then locked in to Truckee past Squaw Valley.

This was my weekly stress reset ride. Once a month, from July to October, I took “the ride” – the 72 mile loop of Lake Tahoe.

By far the best time to go around the lake was between mid-September and late October, when traffic is at its lowest. If you choose to do this, my advice from experience is to go clockwise. This keeps you on the side of the highway furthest from the lake and the prospect of motorists doing more sightseeing than driving.

But even if you just like to relax, it’s hard to beat Lake Tahoe in the fall.

My favorite haunts are Kings Beach Motels, just east of Brockway Summit Road. There are a few right on the beach, including my favorite, Ferrari’s Crown Resort.

One year we marked a room literally half a stone’s throw from the water with a narrow sandy path right outside our window that connected two wider beaches. There was a lot of foot traffic during the day, but when the sun went down, we were treated to a soothing serenity of the gentle, wind-blown lake water lapping against the rocky shore.

If you like golf, there are several courses nearby, including Old Brockway Golf Course.

The only bad thing about the falls is that after Labor Day the North Rim rafting businesses close for the season. The Truckee River offers some of the smoothest – rather floaty – rafting in Northern California.

There are always the casinos and the shows not to mention the dining options galore.

But when it comes to the fall season, there are four must-see attractions that stand out and/or are most enjoyable from late September to late October.

First is the 165 mike Tahoe Rim Trail which circles the lake at higher elevations up to 10,000 feet. Keep in mind the elevation of the lake at 6,225 feet. The trail is ideal for hiking and mountain biking.

I’ve only done a few segments but my favorite of them is Mt. Rose to Relay Ridge.

The trail is clear of all traces of snow.

Your absolute best source of trail information is at tahoerimtrail.org. It includes an interactive map with the locations of the starting points as well as a wealth of useful information.

The hike that packs the most impressive scenery into an out-and-back is the 4.5-mile backcountry trip to Maggie’s Peak. It’s easy to see why this trail is still teeming with hikers — albeit a lot less in the next two months.

The trail offers stunning views of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake, Cascade Lake, Mount Tallac, and glimpses of Desolation Wilderness. You will gain 1,850 feet with a maximum elevation of 8,659 feet.

The trailhead is just south of Emerald Bay at the Bay View Campgrounds across from Inspiration Park. The trailhead and day parking lot is at the back of the campgrounds.

Although I normally like to avoid the South Rim whenever possible, in the fall it has an appealing charm – kokanee salmon spawning in Taylor Creek. There are 63 tributaries that flow into Lake Tahoe, but Taylor Creek is where 95% of the salmon spawn.

Depending on the year, between 25,000 and 80,000 fish will swim up the creek to spawn. The peak time to see the spawning season is usually between mid-October and the first of November.

Walk along the Rainbow Trail and take a look at the water. Sometimes it will seem like the salmon are wall to wall in the clear water of the stream.

At the Taylor Creek Visitor Center there is an observation room on the lower level which gives you an underwater view of the creek allowing you to see salmon and occasionally trout.

And while it’s not Lake Tahoe itself, it’s well worth the 30-minute drive from the south shore to reach Hope Valley.

As fall rolls in and the end of October approaches, the colors are gorgeous. There are masses of aspens turning golden and reddish hues against evergreen backdrops beneath the mountain vistas.

You take Highway 89 out of the Lake Tahoe Basin to reach Hope Valley which stretches along Highway 88.

If you don’t mind adding an hour to your daily plans in the Tahoe Basin in terms of travel time, at the east end of Hope Valley you’ll find one of the three best places to go. staying on the Sierra – my opinion of course – in terms of location/scenery, accommodation and being able within minutes to find yourself in incredible solitude and inspiring surroundings.

Keep in mind that my idea of ​​great accommodations is not the Ritz-Carlton but a place that offers tranquility and comfort where you can fall asleep at the end of a summer day snuggled up in a blanket as the Slightly cooled air circulates gently through an open space the window. To me, it’s decadence with a capital ‘D’.

I discovered Sorenson’s Resort (now the Wylder Hotel Hope Valley) 35 years ago when I wanted to replicate the Death Ride experience which I was unable to enter due to the maximum number of registrations.

For the sane, the Death Ride is a once-a-year ride from Markleeville, south of South Lake Tahoe. It involves cycling through five mountain passes covering 129 miles with over 15,000 feet of climbing. My quads hurt just thinking about it.

The resort is located on Highway 88 near the junction with Highway 89 west of Markleeville at the east end of Hope Valley.

It offers cottages and cabins as well as a full-service restaurant on 165 acres. There’s a wood-fired sauna and even hammocks for taking a nap or enjoying a good book.

Bungalow cabins for one to two people start at $335 including resort fees.

Here are some weird facts to ponder when you decide to head to Lake Tahoe. It is the second deepest lake in the United States at 1,645 feet, second only to Crater Lake in Oregon at 1,949 feet.

Lake Tahoe is the sixth largest lake in the country, topped only by the five Great Lakes.

About 75% of the Lake Tahoe basin is managed by the United States Forest Service, which means there is plenty of accessible public land.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email [email protected]

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