On the eastern border of the Golden State, Lake Tahoe is one of the biggest bodies of fresh water in the US. Offering hiking, biking and aquatic sports, it’s the perfect place to escape work and get back to nature
Inhaling the pine-fresh air, we reach the summit of Martis Peak, a vantage point at the northern end of Lake Tahoe, and drink in the view below. Fringed by lush forests and rugged crags along its 22-mile length, the largest alpine lake in North America straddles the border between California and Nevada. The short hike up to the summit was invigorating and, as we watch the sunshine burn the last remnants of mist off the water, we feel our shoulders drop for the first time in weeks.
Lake Tahoe is a dream for outdoorsy types: in the winter, the snow-capped mountains offer excellent skiing; in the warmer months, hiking, biking and fishing are among the popular activities. There are hundreds of trails and the wildlife is abundant. Black bears are no strangers to the tracks, while bobcats, mountain lions and bald eagles can also be seen.
Director stayed at the award-winning Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, a luxury resort located north of the water on the Californian side. It’s a four-hour drive from San Francisco through dusty plains, then evergreen forests and winding mountain roads up to the hotel, perched 7,500ft above sea level. Our room (one of 153) is cosy, with a cabin-like feel – pine-clad walls, homely furnishings and thick drapes – and floor-to-ceiling windows on one side that reveal a breathtaking vista. The hotel spa has 17 treatment rooms, along with a pool, Jacuzzi and sauna. After our morning hike, the full-body sports massage with hot stones leaves us relaxed and supple.
Whatever time of the year you’re visiting, it’s a great base from which to explore the area. Nearby Kings Beach is a must, with its golden sands surrounded by shops and cool bars. For those not content to simply relax on the shore, paddleboarding, canoeing and parasailing are all on offer here.
Dinner back at the Ritz-Carlton’s Manzanita restaurant comes with stunning views of the lake. After an eight-course meal – the cauliflower soup with winter truffle and crushed pink peppercorn is delicious – we’re set to burst. Yet we’re still tempted outside to the fire pit to toast some s’mores – marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between biscuits. Huddling round the flames and gazing at the stars, we feel completely restored.
Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe gallery (click to enlarge)
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