Destination Lake Tahoe: Check out these 6 scenic spots you can access by bike | SierraSun.com

Destination Lake Tahoe: Check out these 6 scenic spots you can access by bike

Amelia Richmond | Special to the Sun

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — One of the best ways to see Lake Tahoe is by bike — or more specifically, by bike path.

In summer months — especially for Fourth of July Weekend — Tahoe's chaotic roads can back up with traffic, but the paved bike paths circumnavigating stretches of the lake's shore offer a calmer, safer and more scenic way to explore the region.

Here are the best spots on and around North Lake Tahoe to explore via bike path this summer.

Squaw Valley

7.5 miles from Tahoe City

Difficulty: Easy

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Perfect for families and casual cyclists, the trip from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley is a scenic 7.5-mile ride on the bike path along the Truckee River. The ride is mostly flat with just a few easy hills, offering access to swimming, fishing and riverfront picnic areas along the way.

To make the trip, pick up the bike path in Tahoe City on the south side of Highway 89 near the entrance to town, across the street from the gas stations. From there, the bike path follows the riverbank for several miles of scenic views.

Around 3.5 miles, the bike path intersects the River Ranch Restaurant & Lodge, a great spot for a snack or a drink, before continuing on to Squaw Valley.

Once at Squaw Valley, ride the resort's aerial tram to High Camp for mountaintop swimming, dining and roller-skating, or grab a bite at one of the restaurants in The Village at Squaw Valley. Little ones will also enjoy the bungee sky jump and mini golf in the base area.

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Downtown Tahoe City

7.5 miles from Squaw Valley, 2.5 miles from Dollar Hill, 2.5 miles from Sunnyside

Difficulty: Easy

While many depart from Tahoe City, the town itself is a great destination to explore via bike. Completed in June 2012, the Tahoe City Lakeside Trail offers a paved promenade through waterfront parks, shops and restaurants, scenic overlooks, public piers and picnic areas.

Wade in Lake Tahoe's waters at Commons Beach at the south end of Tahoe City, and then pedal north to grab a bite on the water at Moe's Original BBQ, Jake's on the Lake or Hacienda del Lago.

Cruise back into town to peruse downtown Tahoe City's local boutiques and museums, or continue north two miles to Skylandia State Park and Beach for a swim and beachfront barbecue.

Downtown Tahoe City is easily accessed from Squaw Valley, Dollar Hill and the West Shore on North Lake Tahoe's bike path.

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Sugar Pine Point State Park

10 miles from Tahoe City

Difficulty: Moderate

Down the West Shore, Sugar Pine Point State Park offers pristine beaches, hidden coves, dense forests and babbling creeks. To get there, take Tahoe City's bike path across Fanny Bridge and continue south along the bike path. Shave a few miles off by renting bikes at West Shore Sports, located next to the popular Firesign Café (offering perhaps the best breakfast in all of Lake Tahoe).

Best for adults or families with older kids, this trip is more strenuous than the Truckee River path and includes several highway crossings and 2 miles of highway shoulder and residential streets.

Perks of the ride include scenic lake views and several picnic spots. Along the way, grab some of the best sandwiches in Tahoe at the Tahoma Market PDQ or stop for lunch on the lake at the West Shore Café in Homewood.

Once at Sugar Pine Point State Park, swim, relax on the beach or enjoy a walk around the lush grounds of the historic Hellman-Ehrman Mansion.

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Meeks Bay

11 miles from Tahoe City

Difficulty: Moderate

Just a mile past Sugar Pine Point State Park, Meeks Bay offers a white sand beach, Caribbean blue waters and plenty of beach amenities. Continue south along one of the newest parts of the bike path, which expanded to reach Meeks Bay in spring 2015.

At Meeks Bay, snag a sandy spot on the beach and enjoy a swim in the cove's clear waters. Meeks Bay Resort offers paddleboards and kayak rentals, a volleyball net and a grill with burgers, salads and wraps. The resort also now offers valet parking for bikes.

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Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

2.5 miles from Highway 28 in Incline Village

Difficulty: Easy

Cruise along the lakeshore in Incline Village on the 2.5 paved bike path, known locally as "The Joggers' Trail." The bike path runs the length of Lake Shore Drive, and you can start at either end where Lake Shore Drive intersects Highway 28, or park anywhere along the road.

To make an afternoon of it, park near the west end of Lake Shore Drive and take the bike path east along Lake Tahoe's Crystal Bay and past lakefront estates to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, where you can enjoy a meal at one of the Hyatt's lakefront restaurants.

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FALLEN LEAF LAKE

3.5 miles from Pope Beach in South Lake Tahoe

Easy

Beginning at Pope Beach on Highway 89, follow the paved bike path to several favorite South Lake Tahoe destinations, ending at beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake. Turning right out of Pope Beach, the path meanders through old growth forests and passes Camp Richardson and the Tallac Historic Site before continuing to Fallen Leaf Lake.

To access the Alpine lake, cross Highway 89 at Fallen Leaf Lake Road and travel approximately a half mile on the road to the Fallen Leaf Lake Campground on the right. Ride through the campground on the paved road and make a left on the dirt path to the lake.

Once at Fallen Leaf Lake, enjoy a swim in the clear, cold water or take an easy hike around the lake for great views of Mt. Tallac. A trailhead for the 3/4-mile to 2.5-mile stroll leaves from the entrance of the Fallen Leaf Lake Campground.

Amelia Richmond is a North Lake Tahoe-based freelancer writer. Email her at amelia.s.richmond@gmail.com.