The great thing about snow covered mountains (well, one them) is that all of that snow has to go somewhere when the temperature warms up. The melt waters result in powerful river flows and, since we are talking about mountainous areas, there are chances for big waterfalls. On the southwest side of Lake Tahoe is Emerald Bay and above the bay are Eagle Falls. These are some pretty substantial falls when the water is running off and we got them at a great time of year.
The top of the falls is up near the highway. They crash down the hillside and run in to the lake near Vikingsholme. Since we hiked down to the lakeside at this place, we were able to see the falls both from below and from above. They are spread out over a reasonably wide front and make for a dramatic view. Whether you are close in (and you can get ride to the edge of the falls at the top), looking at them from a distance or staring up from the bottom, they look impressive. I don’t know how long they run for at strength but I imagine they diminish quite soon. We did well to be there at the right time.
A trail runs from the highway above Emerald Bay down to the water’s edge of Lake Tahoe. It is not a long hike but it is a steady grade. At the bottom, you come across a house called Vikingsholme. It is a curious mixture of styles. Situated a short distance from the shore, this must have been a great place to live when it was a private residence. Now you can tour the house if you are interested. I was more interested in the outside than the inside. The grass covered roof sections and the ornamentation of the roof lines and the woodwork were very cool.
Lake Tahoe is a pretty place wherever you are on the shore (assuming you exclude the casino resort area on the south end). It is easy to get blasé about the great views as you drive around the lake. However, get to Emerald Bay and you will definitely notice the beauty of the place. The highway winds around the bay high up on the hills so you have a view down to the water below you. We approached from the south and there is a viewing overlook as you round the headland into the bay. This was absolutely packed with people so stopping was not really an option.
We continued down to the trailhead and got amazingly lucky to find a parking space opening up as we arrived. People were parked all over the place and along the road in both directions but we were exactly where we wanted to be! Outstanding! The view down to the bay is lovely. There is a small island in the middle of the bay which makes it look evening more inviting. The idea of staying on the shore, swimming out in the bay and across to the island sounds great. Of course, this is snow run-off so I imagine the water temperature as a bit on the chilly side.
The place was hugely popular. Not only were people on the beaches along the shore but there was a steady stream of boats pulling in to the bay from elsewhere on Lake Tahoe. I have no idea how busy this place gets in the summer but I imagine it is absolutely crazy.