Lake Tahoe is the most-visited national forest in California and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Sierra Nevada. This dog-friendly guide to Lake Tahoe will reveal the best hikes, places to stay, and outdoor activities to enjoy with your pup.
Between the 180s and the 1930s, conservationists made many attempts to designate Lake Tahoe as a National Park, however, it never achieved the status due to suspicions of foul play and fear of heavy federal control.
That is good news for dogs owners, however, because it means that, unlike National Parks, dogs have more liberty to join their humans as they explore the region.
From hiking to paddle boarding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, Lake Tahoe offers year round outdoor activities to enjoy with your pup.
I partnered with Hotels.com to bring you this dog-friendly guide Lake Tahoe.
Dogs and Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe sits at 6,224 feet above sea level, so if you are coming from sea level, make sure to take a day or two to acclimate both yourself and your dog to the altitude. Yes, dogs can experience altitude sickness!
Dogs are not allowed on any of the designated swimming beaches at Lake Tahoe, however, they are permitted in a number of areas along the lake (see below under ‘beaches’ for a few spots)
In the winter, the several groomed cross country trails allow dogs and there are plenty of snowshoeing options to enjoy with your pup.
If you do choose to bring your pet to Lake Tahoe, they must be on a 6ft leash at all times and always pick up their poop.
Dog-Friendly Hotels in Lake Tahoe
The majority of accommodations are located in South Lake Tahoe, just over the state line in California. Here is where all the amenities like tours, rentals, and grocery stores will be.
If you prefer a little less activity, there are plenty of hotels located all around the lake. on the itself loves and welcomes dogs.
Since travel today looks a bit different from normal, I encourage you to keep your safety and the safety of others in mind. Please travel responsibly.
If you do decide to travel during the pandemic, here is how I recommend doing so safely:
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands regularly
- Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of local businesses.
- Fill up with gas before you leave
- Bring your own food and limit trips to local shops
- Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans
Pet-friendly Hotel Chains in Lake Tahoe
Independent Dog-Friendly Hotels in Lake Tahoe
Dog-Friendly Camping in Lake Tahoe
Visitors can find camping all along the shore of Lake Tahoe. Depending on the season, these campgrounds are likely to be very busy. If you don’t mind staying a bit further away from the lake, you can easily find some quieter spots.
Here are a few suggestions:
- William Kent Campground
- Meeks Bay Campground
- Camp Shelly at Lake Tahoe
- Lake Forest Campground
- Kaspian Campground
The Best Dog-Friendly Hikes in Lake Tahoe
The majority of the area surrounding Lake Tahoe is managed by the National Forest system, which means that dogs are welcome just about anywhere within the basin. Dogs must remain on leash within the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Alpine lake lover are in luck, as Lake Tahoe isn’t the only lake around. The region is littered with gorgeous high alpine lakes throughout the basin.
The moderate mileage and elevation gain to Gilmore Lake makes for a lovely day hike or overnight backpacking trip. With plenty of streams along the way, this is a great option for dogs in warmer weather.
Bears do frequent the area, so do be sure to pack your food in a bear-proof container if you plan to stay the night. And don’t forget the bug spray! The mosquitoes are reportedly ruthless!
Lake Aloha Trail
This is one of the classic hikes in Lake Tahoe. Because of its popularity, plan to visit early in the morning, on a weekday, or in the off season.
The 13-mile hike is mostly flat, with only two sections of notable elevation change. If you’d like to stay overnight, contact the Placerville Ranger Station to obtain a permit.
The lake is drained in the fall, so plan accordingly!
Mount Tallac Trail
A challenging, but rewarding hike takes you to the top of 9,735-foot Mount Tallac, offering an exquisite view of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains.
The route to the top follows a well-marked trail lined with stunning wildflowers at the right time of year. Be sure to bring along an offline map, as the summit can be confusing thanks to the lose rocks.
A wilderness permit is required to hike this trail, which must be purchased prior to arriving at the trail head.
Glen Alpine Loop
This 13.5-mile loop traverses along some of the more iconic spots like Lake Aloha, Heather Lake, and Susie Lake, but with fewer crowds.
Aside from the initial 3-mile ascent, the elevation isn’t overwhelming and doable for most, despite the longer distance. Bring an offline map and check frequently to ensure you’re on the right path.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Lake Tahoe
Designated swimming beaches do not allow dogs at Lake Tahoe. These beaches include:
- Meeks Bay
- William Kent
While these are some of the most popular recreation spots at Lake Tahoe, fear not, there are still plenty of dog-friendly water access points around the lake, such as:
- Tallac Historic Site (from Valhalla PIer to Tallac Point)
- North Beach at Zephyr Cove Resort (South Lake Tahoe)
- Hidden and Chimney beaches (east shore)
- Coon Street Beach
- Ski Beach (October to April only)
- Echo Lakes
Alternatively, the lakes and streams in the nearby Desolation Wilderness are also options.