Pedal Away from Crowds to Enjoy Tahoe Safely

With the CDC recommending outdoor activities over indoor ones in terms of COVID-19 risk, Tahoe has never been a more attractive destination. Sure, there may be other places to pursue outdoor activities, but where else can you do it all with the majestic backdrop of that scintillating lake ringed with peaks?

Tahoe is welcoming tourists back — with caution. Just like at home, you gotta wear a mask in public. It’s still recommended that you only hang out with members of your own household. Keep in mind that you are visiting a region with far fewer hospitals than the Bay Area; carelessness could wreak disaster on these beloved lakeside communities. Already this summer, officials in the South Lake Tahoe area linked a July spike in COVID cases to visitors failing to take precautions.

Pedaling a bike is a great way to social distance in the mountain air. There are at least a dozen places to rent on both the north and south shores; Bike Tahoe’s list of shops can get you started.

Rusty? If you haven’t ridden a bike in years, you might find one of the new e-bikes a boon. You can pedal as if you’re riding a regular bike, but the motor gives you an assist when you need it to get up the steep parts. 

Tahoe Ebikes delivers rental electronic mountain bikes everywhere in North Tahoe, and will come to South Lake Tahoe for a small group. 

“I do take extra safety measures, wearing a mask, social distancing, and cleaning/disinfecting the e-bikes,” said owner Harry Ward. “I have been insanely busy this year.” 

Not all mountain bike trails allow e-bikes, but plenty do, such as the 50 miles of trails at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. Ward said one of his renters’ favorite rides is the 14-mile Marlette Flume trail, where you can drink in lake vistas unbound by a car windshield.

“It cuts high above the east side of the lake, my personal favorite area. My only issue was trying to keep my eyes on the trail. Seriously the view is that good,” wrote Conor Barry on the MTB Project website. 

If you’d prefer one of Tahoe’s many paved bike paths to the mountain trails, check out Bike Tahoe’s wealth of trail guides and maps, which rank rides by challenge level. You can rent a cruiser and hop from strand to strand on the South Tahoe Beach Cruise ride.

Serious cyclists can do their own bike around the lake since the 29th annual America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride,  has been postponed to 2021, and pedal 72 miles all the way around the lake.

One you’ve burned all those calories, you don’t have to go inside to recuperate. Relax with a brew on a terrace with a lake view. In Tahoe City, kick back at Za’s Lakefront and tuck into Fat Zakel’s Fish Sandwich. In South Lake Tahoe, sip a cocktail and watch the sunset turn the water tangerine from Boathouse on the Pier, located at the Beach Retreat and Lodge resort. Both restaurants were open for dining in at press time, but because pandemic conditions are unpredictable, it’s a good idea to call first to get the current status. The Tahoe area stretches over two states and multiple counties, and with the COVID crisis constantly evolving, it’s hard to predict what will be open at any given time.


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Carrie Kirby spends a lot of time asking people about something they think about but rarely talk about: money. Her work on personal finance, business and technology has appeared in San Francisco Magazine, Consumers Digest, Wise Bread and more publications. Carrie’s most recent work about her other love, travel, appears in The Best Women’s Travel Writing: Volume 10. She lives on an island (Alameda) with her husband and three kids, and blogs about getting them all where they need to go without owning a car at carfreemom.com.