High in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, you’ll find the incomparable Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park. Miles of hiking trails wind their way through the 2000 acres of pine, juniper, fir and aspen trees that cover 80% of this state park. When you’re finished with your hike, relax with a swim or cast a line from the two miles of pristine lake frontage within the park. For history buffs, the Ehrman Mansion offers tours in the on season, which provides a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy holiday makers of the early 1900s.
At an elevation of 6229 feet, Sugar Pine Point Park is one of the few unspoiled areas around Lake Tahoe and the only Sierra State Park that is open year-round. Cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing is available in winter, while summer holiday makers have myriad outdoor recreational activities to choose from that could extend well beyond the length of their stay. Rent bicycles, kayaks, paddleboards and boats, or sign up for a lake tour or waterskiing lessons. For nature enthusiasts, spring brings the chance to spot wildflowers, chipmunks, squirrels, black bears, ospreys, nuthatches, kingfishers and bald eagles.
A little over two hours northeast of Sacramento and only 10 miles south of Tahoe City, Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park is easily accessed off Highway 89. Cars and RVs can drive along the shore of Lake Tahoe before turning off the western side of the highway to the campground nestled amongst the trees of the surrounding forest, or east off the highway to the day use area on the lake’s shore. In winter, four-wheel drive and/or chains are recommended as the high-altitude region sees a significant snowfall each winter. Local roads will take you through the region to shops, other landmarks around the park and outdoor-recreation rental companies. Ehrman mansion and the nature center are a three-quarter mile drive or walk from the campground, and if you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can take a drive to Vikingsholm mansion or the sandy beaches on the southern shore of the lake.
Just south of beautiful Lake Tahoe, nestled in tall pines along the pretty shores of Echo Creek, Lake Tahoe KOA offers a relaxing stay, as well as various activities and outdoor adventure opportunities. You can visit casinos, just nine miles away on the Nevada side of the lake, or take up horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking or even a hot-air balloon ride. All of these adventures are available nearby, and your hosts will help you take advantage of it all. At Lake Tahoe KOA, enjoy on-site fishing and a season pool. Wi-Fi is available on-site for purchase, along with propane and firewood.
The General Creek campground in Sugar Pine Point State Park as has 175 pet-friendly campsites, 11 of which are accessible. There are also 10 group sites and 10 tent-only sites. Reservations are required mid-May through early November and it’s recommended you call to ensure a campsite is available that can accommodate the length of your RV as this popular campsite fills up fast in the summer months. Amenities include picnic tables, fire pits, food lockers, flushable toilets in a heated restroom and potable water. Showers are coin operated in summer months, off season the restrooms are still available however the showers are not. The dump station is open in the on season.The use of generators is permitted between 10am and 8pm. All food must be stored in food lockers as black bears are active in the area and dogs must remain on leash.
Open during the summer season and located by the day use picnic area at the Ehrman Mansion, the nature center is a must for kids of all ages. Bird displays showcase the many species that make the Tahoe Basin their home, and they also seek to educate visitors about the many mammals and fish species found in the area. Aspiring ecologists can learn about the lake’s formation and structure as well as the flora that abound in the region.
If you’re cruising by Sugar Pine Point State Park between the Memorial Day weekend and mid-September, be sure to stop in for a tour of the historic Ehrman Mansion, or as it’s otherwise known, ‘Pine Lodge’. The 11,000 square-foot majestic summer home exemplifies the opulent American style of architecture that was prevalent among the elite at the turn of the century. Built in 1903, it stayed in the family until 1965 when the house and the surrounding land were sold to the state of California. Visitors can rejoice in that acquisition if only because it allows us to take a peek inside this incredible piece of state history.
Whether you’re in, on or just looking at it, the water of Lake Tahoe is something to behold. Sugar Pine Point State Park offers prime positioning for some of the clearest run-offs into the lake from General Creek. The stream and lake are open to fishing mid-July to mid-September. Fish from shore, the pier or a boat – just don’t forget your fishing license!
Despite the cooler temperatures, many people can’t resist diving into the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe and with two miles of shoreline, there’s plenty of room for everyone to dip a toe in. Water skiing, wakeboarding and lake tours are also available to travelers who can’t get enough of aquatic recreation.
If you’re looking for an excuse to wear in your hiking boots, look no further because you’ll be spoiled for choice with the many miles of hiking trails in the region. Varying in difficulty, Sugar Pine Point State Park offers trails for every holiday maker. Take the paved, wheelchair-accessible Lakefront Interpretive Trail along a quarter-mile of Tahoe’s shoreline (which is also pet-friendly!), or test your calf muscles on the General Creek Trail which is a four and a half mile loop with an elevation gain of 300 feet. For the diehard enthusiasts, the Lost Lake trail is 14.5 miles long with a 1300 foot elevation gain.
For those who aren’t into skiing or snowboarding, just a short drive from Sugar Pine Point State Park visitors can take guided sleigh rides and snowmobile tours on offer. Head to a nearby resort in South Lake Tahoe and kids of all ages can take a run on the tubing slopes!
Moonlit snow-shoeing, anyone? Take a guided evening tour by one of the park rangers around the Hellman-Ehrman estate and along the shoreline to experience Lake Tahoe’s natural and cultural history under a new light. Alternatively, slide into your snowshoes and go on a self-guided tour along one of the many groomed trails within the park.
As the only state park in the region open during the off season, it’s a winter holiday maker’s wonderland. This state park has 12 miles of well-marked cross-country ski trails to explore, so don’t forget to pack the skis in your RV. Follow the footprints (or ski prints) of athletes from the 1960 Winter Olympics on the Olympic Biathlon Trail. Once you’re back to the campground, there are heated restrooms available to dry off and warm up, however be warned there are no showers this time of year.