Explore a slice of California state history on a new heritage trail below the lake’s surface

Tahoe’s Newest Adventure Is Happening Underwater
David Fenton

You may have experienced the magic of Lake Tahoe on foot or skis, but the newest adventure at the famed lake bordering California and Nevada is one that happens underwater.

This month, Emerald Bay State Park, home to some of the most majestic hiking trails in the area, has begun offering a diving trail that lets you explore underwater sites along the shoreline that date back as far as the early 1900s. While divers have already been able to explore two large barges since 1998, the introduction of the new sites offers an extra historic glimpse into Tahoe’s heyday in the early 20th century. Apart from being the largest known collection of sunken small watercraft still existing in their original location, the Emerald Bay Heritage Trail is also California State Parks’ first underwater historical trail of this kind to open to the public.

For their age, the vessels are extremely well-preserved, and underwater interpretive panels mark the new dive sites with information on their history and relevance to the area. Take, for instance, a wooden fishing boat, 35 feet below the surface, a 60-foot-deep hard chine skiff, or the Florence M., which dates back to 1915 and was one of the largest vessels in the fleet of the famed Emerald Bay Resort, carrying curious travelers across the lake.

Like any diving excursion, park officials remind visitors to be prepared and properly trained for lake conditions, given that Tahoe is over 6,000 feet in elevation, and gets pretty darn cold. If you’re looking for a reason to get to Lake Tahoe before the busy winter ski season begins, this just might be it.