Fallen Leaf Lake Hike – June 27, 2014

7 Jul

Lots of people hike around here, both in the Carson Valley and in the Sierras. Last week, Jerri and I decided we wanted to hike in the Emerald Bay area of Lake Tahoe to visit Viking’s Home described as follows (from the website)

      “Vikingsholm is located at the head of Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, California. This magnificent “castle” is a unique blend of Nature’s spectacular beauty and man’s architectural ingenuity.  Vikingsholm, situated majestically among towering pines and cedars, was built as a summer home by Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight in 1929.”



We were excited about doing this hike as it would be our workout for the day and it looked so beautiful in pictures! Alas and alack! We couldn’t even find a parking space remotely close to the trailhead. True bummer! One should not try hikes in a popular area near the Fourth of July on a beautiful day!

We decided to check out Fallen Leaf Lake that is a bit east of Emerald Bay, back toward the Taylor Creek area (famous for the Kokanee Salmon run in the fall). Neither one of us had been there, so this was a novel adventure for both of us. One can see Fallen Leak far below the road as one drives back toward South Lake Tahoe, but if one hasn’t been paying attention to signs; one doesn’t know how to find the road to get to said lake. After some trial and error, driving on terribly skinny side roads and talking to locals, we finally found a road that got us close to Fallen Leaf. (However, it wasn’t THE road to get close to the lake).  That was ok. We hiked just a short distance and found the little dam that marks the beginning of Taylor Creek.

A family checking out what is below them from the Fallen Leaf Dam

A family looking at the headwaters of Taylor Creek just below Fallen Leaf Dam (Don’t forget to click the pictures to enlarge them if you wish)

The headwaters of Taylor Creek

A view from the dam

Fallen Leaf Lake has quite a geologic history and, since I’m kinda lazy today, I thought I’d throw in a bit of a quote from Wikipedia.

            “Fallen Leaf Lake is located within the National Forest System lands managed by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management UnitFallen Leaf is approximately 415 feet deep at its deepest point. The average depth of the lake is around 240 feet. Due to the action of the glaciers that carved the lake, the northern end of the lake has a much more gradual depth change, and the bottom can be seen from the surface for a quarter-mile offshore…The water quality is good and visibility runs around 40–50 feet under most conditions. The surface elevation of the lake is 152 feet above Lake Tahoe.”

Jerri and I cannot attest to the clarity of the water, but it looked nice as we walked along the edge and it was as cool as Tahoe when we tested the water’s edge. We saw kayakers paddling and kids frolicking in the water even though a pretty stiff wind was blowing. It looked like fun!

We ate lunch beside the hiking path and were soon accosted by a saucy Steller’s jay, which soon got what he thought he was entitled to.

This is our Steller being stellar with his pretzel that Jerri gave him

This is our Steller being stellar with his pretzel that Jerri gave him


I’ve mentioned that it was a beautiful day and here are a few pictures attesting to that.

Mount Tallac (9,735 ft) is familiar to anyone who was a fan of the television series Bonanza as it appeared with its characteristic cross of snow behind the Cartwright family as they rode towards the camera. Fallen Leaf Lake is in the foreground

Trees and clouds attesting the the beautiful day!

Trees and clouds attesting to the beautiful day!

We saw several flowers in bloom such as columbine, lupine and Indian paintbrush. They were all beautiful in the sunlight and shade. We were pleasantly surprised at wild flowers still being in bloom as they are pooped out in our valley. I guess it’s just too hot for them right now at home (My columbines are kaput)

Columbines in the pines

Columbines in the pines

Lupine in a tiny meadow

Lupine in a tiny meadow

As we drove out of the skinny road where we’d turned in to soon, we finally found the correct road into Fallen Leaf campground…just a hop and a skip from Highway 89.  The funny thing is that, apparently, both of us are always either driving or looking to the right in hopes of seeing a bear trying to catch some salmon for lunch (the Kokanee) in Taylor Creek.  Next time, we’ll know where to turn and be able to park in the right spot so that we can get started much quicker.

It was a great day and we had a lot of fun laughing at each other as we tried to get to our adventure that was awaiting..





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