When we think of Lake Tahoe in the summertime, the two recreational activities that arguably best capture the natural splendor of this Sierra Nevada treasure are hiking and water sports. Indeed, choosing whether to enjoy some of the region’s countless trails (and eye-popping views) or the pristine water beckoning you for a swim can prove quite challenging.
However, thanks to a new and most unusual trail at Tahoe’s Emerald Bay State Park, visitors can now do both at once.
First opened to the public in the fall of 2018, the Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail is the first of its kind in California. Utilizing scuba or snorkeling gear, visitors are invited to explore a curated underwater trail “showcasing the historic recreational watercraft and barges that now rest below the surface of Emerald Bay,” with sites ranging in depth from 10 to 60 feet.
Free to access without reservation, the trail currently showcases two sunken wooden barges, a wooden fishing boat, a hard chine skiff, and a wooden passenger launch boat named the Florence M. In all cases, these crafts were employed on the lake during the early 20th century, offering a unique window into Tahoe’s “golden age” of recreation, according to the Sierra State Parks Foundation.
While California State Parks granted access to the Historic Dive Barge site in Emerald Bay 1998, the other three dive sites featured on the Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail represent the first time the locations of these sunken crafts has ever been publicly released. To assist with the experience, underwater interpretative panels have also been placed at the four dive sites, while waterproof cards for divers are available at the park’s visitor centers.
If you’re looking to explore a side of Tahoe you’ve never seen, swap your skis for a snorkel and make your way to this trail unlike any other.
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Zack Ruskin writes on music, cannabis, and culture. His bylines include Vanity Fair, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, Merry Jane, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Danielle, and their cat, McCovey.