We are a community of awesome, active women. We surf, we swim, we paddle, we boulder, we cannonball, we salute the sun.
We don’t stand by the sidelines and we certainly don’t fuss with our suits. We don’t hold back.
We move. Freely.
Like Brand Ambassador Briana Valorosi (@bvalorosi). Born and raised in Northern California, Briana is no stranger to the outdoors. We chatted with this awesome gal recently and got some pretty awesome local info on Lake Tahoe. Check it out!
#GetOutThere Guide with Briana Valorosi: Lake Tahoe
Growing up in Northern California, I have had the privilege to explore diverse landscapes. For the past decade, I have spent my summers exploring the solitude and beauty of the Sierra Nevada range. Winters in Colorado have balanced with an annual summer return to Lake Tahoe, where I find myself most at home. I have hiked extensively in the area and continue to return for both hiking and the peace that is found under the tall sierra pine trees and beside the gem of the Sierras.
Lake Tahoe hiking is top shelf. The Lake Tahoe Basin has the glistening gem of a lake at its heart; ideal for summer swims, reading on the beach, paddle boarding, and kayaking. The lake is approximately 72 miles around, by road, and makes for a beautiful, scenic drive; Emerald Bay is a highlight of the drive; a natural bay surrounded by steep mountainous terrain jutting from its edges. The bay itself hosts a castle (which may be toured) and an island with a stone structure that was historically used for tea parties. The Tahoe Rim Trail is an amazing long distance hike that circumferences the lake, in and out of state park land, wilderness, and forest. For a panoramic view of the lake, a strenuous hike to the top of Mount Tallac will be greatly rewarded with unbeatable views of the lake and Desolation Wilderness. Mountain biking trails are plentiful. And to top it off, natural hot spring pools are less than an hour away for your after-adventure relaxation.
For the outdoor adventurer, the Lake Tahoe basin offers it all!
Hike: Dardanelle Lake
Hiking to Dardanelle Lake is one of my all time favorites hikes! The trail is approximately 7 miles round trip on moderate terrain. The trail begins with a short section of moderate uphill on a well-traveled (rock and dirt) path. At the first fork, you have the option to head straight and left to Scotts Lake (also beautiful, yet more accessible by four wheel drive, offering less solitude), or take a right to continue to Dardanelle Lake.
Tall willows welcome you as the trail meanders for a brief moment before opening up to a grassy meadow. Big Meadow is perfect for a photograph, picnic, and even just a stroll through. As the trail crosses through the center of the meadow, hikers gain spectacular views of the surrounding peaks. At the edge of the meadow, the trail meets tall forest and begins to ascend a moderate hill. For about 1-1.5 miles, the trail works its way up well-traveled dirt and then takes a short descent to the next fork in the path.
At this fork, you may take a left and head to Round Lake, thereby joining the Tahoe Rim Trail (if you want a longer hike), or take a right for Dardanelle Lake. After you have taken the right, keep an eye out for a less obvious trail marker to the left. A creek gurgles beside the next fork and stones create a natural bridge to cross. Variations in the landscape continue to present themselves as the trail moves through wildflower filled meadows and marshy land.
Before long, and only after one final, yet brief, uphill section, you will be rewarded with the glistening, bright blue beauty of Dardenelle Lake. Cradled by surrounding granite, the lake offers peace and solitude. Some campers may be seen on the opposite side of the lake and fisherman will make the trek to spend some time with the high alpine fish. Its likely you will have the lake to yourself, or at least it will surely feel that way.
There is a map board at the trailhead. For great local hiking maps and detailed trail information, visit Lake of the Sky Outfitters in South Lake Tahoe or the local National Forest Service office.
How to get there:
From South Lake Tahoe, California, take Highway 89 south toward Woodfords. Follow Highway 89 for 5 miles until you reach the ‘Big Meadow Trailhead’ parking on the left hand side. This is also where the Pacific Crest Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail cross the road. Once parked, the trail will cross the highway again and lead you on your way to Dardanelle Lake.
South Lake Tahoe is approximately 4 hours east of San Francisco or 1.5 hours from Reno International Airport (the nearest airport).
Where to Stay:
If a tent is your preferred accommodation, the Big Meadow trailhead offers free, first come first served camping. Be sure to put all of your food in the provided bear boxes as bear sightings are very common in this area.
If you prefer four walls and a roof, Sorensen’s Resort in Hope Valley, California offers well appointed rustic cabins, with an on-site restaurant and other surrounding hikes. To get to Sorensen’s from the Big Meadow Trailhead, continue South bound on Highway 89 for 7-10 miles. The highway will reach a mandatory fork. Take a left for 1 mile to the resort.
If you want to be near Lake Tahoe for nightlife and beach time, there are a multitude of hotels and accommodations in South Lake Tahoe.
Where to Eat:
For breakfast, before hitting the trail, check out Sugar Pine Bakery in South Lake Tahoe for amazing home made pastries. They also have sandwiches made each morning to take on the trail. Sprouts and Rude Brothers Bagels are also great options for breakfast and lunch.
For lunch to bring on the trail, Grass Roots Natural Foods Store features pre-made sandwiches that are fresh and delicious. You can also grab any extra snacks from their fully stocked grocery aisles.
For dinner, Freshies offers eclectic Hawaiian cuisine. The Jamaican Jerk Fish Tacos and Hearts of Palm Salad are amazing! Don’t forget to reward your day of hiking with one of a handful of on draft California brews. Off the Hook Sushi is just down the road and offers a fresh take on California Sushi; Happy Hour is between 4-6. Verde is a Mexican Rotisserie café with amazing carnivorous offerings.
Divided Sky in Meyers (you pass it going to the trailhead) is the best place in town for a beer, live music, or a fresh squeezed grapefruit cocktail. The atmosphere is hip and mellow, the walls donning local art and the lights often low.
Lake Tahoe is a year round destination but the hiking is best in July through September. The lake is best for swimming and beach time during July and August as temperatures rise between mid 60s and mid 80s. If your travels take you there in May or June, expect to encounter some snow on the trail during a typical snowfall year. If you wait until September, the changing aspens in Hope Valley are stunning!