Camping and hiking at D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay

Our two-day guide will treat you to the best views this spot has to offer.

Kimberly Gomes

For Northern Californians, Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay is a frequented favorite. This must-see spot is home to crystal blue waters, the Vikingsholm mansion, and an island-bound teahouse. Instead of boating in for a couple hours like most do, explore this area from the inside-out with this two-day guide.

DAY ONE:

Hike the Rubicon Trail. This moderate 7.2-mile, round-trip trail takes you along Lake Tahoe’s rim from D.L. Bliss to Emerald Bay. Lined with jutting cliffs and turquoise waters, this trek is prime for campers looking for a gorgeous day hike with a supreme view. Pack lunch, swimming gear, and lounge along one of the many white sand beaches tucked along Emerald Bay. Aside from sunbathing, visitors can also rent kayaks and paddleboards ($25 per hour) or take a tour through Vikingsholm, a regal mansion built in 1929 for Mrs. Lora J. Knight of Santa Barbara. Those interested in a longer trek can continue along the Rubicon Trail, past Emerald Bay to Eagle Point Campground for views from the cove’s Eastern edge.

Balancing Rock & Calawee Cove. The Rubicon trail will likely soak up most of your day, but if you still have some energy, park your car and walk .5 miles to Balancing Rock. This natural wonder is located in D.L. Bliss, making it an easy end-of-day activity for those camping in the park. If you’re a sunset lover, drive or walk down to Calawee Cove for an evening treat.

DAY TWO:

Explore Cascade Falls. This 2-mile, round-trip trek starts at the Bayview Trail just across from Inspiration Point. After a short climb, hikers will enjoy views of Cascade Lake, Emerald Bay, and larger Lake Tahoe (not to mention the main attraction, Cascade Falls).

Walk to Eagle Falls. This family-friendly option starts off with a .25-mile hike to the waterfall and continues on for another .75 miles to Eagle Lake. As for parking, pay $3 for the Eagle Falls lot or park for free along Highway 89.

Emerald Bay Overlook. When it comes to Tahoe views, it doesn’t get much better than this supremely perched lookout. Drive up and settle on one of the many sun-kissed rocks for exquisite photos of the region’s most prized scene.

CAMPGROUND INFO:

D.L. Bliss. Given its stunning surroundings, D.L. Bliss State Park fills up fast. For a guaranteed stay, make reservations in spring or try your luck with first-come, first-serve sites. The premium campsites are much closer to the lake and cost $10 more per night. The furthest sites, ranging from 1 to 30, are about a 2-mile walk to Lester Beach and Calawee Cove. Showers, flush toilets, bear lockers, and potable water are available. $35-$45; (530) 525-7277; $10 day pass;

Boat Camp. This quaint, 20-site campground sits in Emerald Bay State Park, just steps from the lake. Home to its own pier and docking area, this spot works great for those boating or kayaking in. A bit more primitive, Boat Camp is located along the Rubicon Trail and comes with potable water and pit toilets, but no showers. Both reservations and first-come, first-serve sites are available. $35; (916) 541-3030;

Eagle Point. This 100-site campground is located in Emerald Bay State Park and offers gorgeous views with walk-in access to the beach. The nearest sites are just .25 miles from crystal blue waters. Eagle Point offers showers, flush toilets, potable water, and bear lockers. $35; (916) 541-3030;

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