Published: December, 2017
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Fallen Leaf Lake, California

While the world continues to move at lightening speed, time stands still in Fallen Leaf Lake, holding to the philosophy that all you need in life is the great outdoors, your own capability and family and friends to spend the days with.
— Sterling Boyd
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, Family, Group getaway, Beach, Mountains
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: A WEEK

to & from

Fallen Leaf Lake is a secret gem nestled on the southwestern side of Lake Tahoe. Pack your car up and go! The drive is about 3.5 to 4 hours from San Francisco.

Where to Stay

The homes around Fallen Leaf Lake don’t come up for rent often so do your research early. VRBO and calling the Fallen Leaf General Store for home listings are your best bet. The only hotels near Fallen Leaf Lake are in South Lake Tahoe, but if you want the real experience, rent a home on the lake. The homes surrounding the lake range from supreme with docks and boats to tiny rustic cabins with wood burning fires. If you happen to be Stanford alumni, you can also stay at the Stanford Camp (it books out a year in advance).

Where to Eat and Drink

My great-grandfather bought property at Fallen Leaf Lake back in 1917, so this year officially marks the 100th year of our family visiting the lake.

  • The only store on the lake is the Fallen Leaf General Store that serves ice-cream, lunch, and sells essentials like milk. Do all of your shopping at Raleys (at Lake Tahoe Blvd and Highway 50) and plan to BBQ/cook at your cabin.
  • For lunch or dinner out, head to South Lake Tahoe. Sonny's Bbq Shack Bar and Grill is super casual and great for kids. Yummy pulled pork, burgers and you can eat outside.

What to Do

Fallen Leaf Lake is at the base of the Desolation Wilderness home to some of the most beautiful hiking and camping country around.

  • Rent a pontoon or speed boat at the Fallen Leaf General Store. You can rent by the hour or for the day. Get a picnic, cruise around the lake and pull up on the shore for a picnic.
  • Take the family for an afternoon ice cream at the General Store and then head to the public beach for fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing.
  • Lily Lake Walk (2 miles in total). This walk is great when you still have a stroller as you can walk on the paved road. Start at the general store, pop by the local church hidden in the garden and walk up Glen Alpine Road. About half way up the road, you will come to Glen Alpine Falls on your right. Take a break and sit in front of the Falls. In the early summer, it is really impressive. When you arrive at Lily Lake you are at the base of the Desolation Wilderness. If you have older kids and are up for an adventure, get a map and head into the wilderness. If you are like us, with a 2.5 and 1 year old, this is where we turn around!
  • Hike Angora Lakes, two fresh water lakes only accessible by foot (2.5 miles round trip). This is our favorite walk. When you get to the top lake, the cute Angora Lake Resort sells fresh squeezed lemonade, sandwiches and ice cream. We grab our ice-cream, put on our swimming suits and lounge at the beach before we head home. The water is ice cold and perfectly clear. In May and June, you can still see snow on the mountains above. To get to the hike, drive up Ridge road past Angora Lookout until you reach a parking lot. This hike is too much for a stroller, but is doable for our 2.5 year old and 1 year old with a baby bjorn and backpack.
  • Day trip out to Tahoe for a swim in the lake at Pope beach. There are bbq pits and tables at the beach so bring a picnic and chill out. Quick tip - the beach can get busy, so when you get there go all the way to the end. The beach is long and you will get the beach all to yourselves.
  • Bring your bikes--so many beautiful places to bike and you can head right out to bike around Lake Tahoe if you are a true enthusiast.

inside scoop

  • Take warm clothes for the evening. The days are usually in the mid 80s but nights can get down to the 50s!
  • Bring a blanket and build a fire. Remember ingredients for s'mores!

skip it

The mosquitos! We never get bitten here. No need to worry.

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