A couple enjoys elbow room ahead of the summer crowds at Moon Dunes Beach… (Christopher Reynolds /…)
Think you know all there is to know about summertime activities around the north shore of Lake Tahoe? Fall will arrive before a comprehensive list can be compiled, so here's a quick look at some of the things to do there.
The star-gazing at Northstar and Squaw Valley benefits from the higher altitude, clear skies and crisp evenings. At both resorts, professional astronomers help identify intricate constellations with the help of high-powered telescopes. During the Perseid meteor shower Aug. 12, Squaw Valley will host a family campout for a night of celestial fun, with swimming and ice skating included. Another way to explore the darkness is to join one of the easy-to-moderate guided sunset and full-moon hikes around the resort's High Camp.
At the base of the mountain, children weighing less than 120 pounds can fly on a short (200 feet) single zip line.
The stars, of course, are also visible from the shimmering nighttime surface of Lake Tahoe. The Tahoe Adventure Co. offers astronomy, full-moon and sunset kayak outings from its Tahoe Vista home.
Don't fret if your schedule does not align with the lunar calendar. "Everything we do can will be available every day," said owner Kevin Hickey, who will customize trips with as little as a day's notice. No guides are needed for a bit of navigation around the lakeshore on top of a stand-up paddle board. Several outfitters provide instruction and will rent boards by the hour.
Even more mellow is a float trip on the nearby Truckee River. Water releases from the dam in Tahoe City determine the river's flow, but don't expect stomach-churning rapids. Plan instead on a couple of hours for the leisurely five-mile stretch before a return shuttle. For water of the frozen kind, head to Squaw Valley's ice-skating rink at High Camp.
If you bring your inline skates to Northstar's village rink, you can skate (on dry ground) for free. On Tuesday nights, music from the '70s and '80s fills the air, combined with the aroma of s'mores roasting over the fire pits. The resort has its own mini-film festival with free outdoor screenings on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through August.
Treasure-hunting is not just for children: The whole family can scour Northstar's slopes on a geocaching mission. The object is to locate a "rustic-looking ammo can" that contains a log book and trinkets (leave one, take one). "It's fun to see what other people hide in the caches for you to find," said Jessica VanPernis, spokesperson for Northstar. Seek, with the help of a GPS handheld device, and you shall find. But boulders, logs and tree stumps can fool modern technology.
Frisbee golf is just what it sounds like, with metal-chain baskets instead of holes dotting the Squaw Valley fairways at High Camp.
Feeling less civil? Arm yourself with a paintball gun and round up a few friends for a high-altitude version of Capture the Flag. The battles take place on a course that uses the natural terrain on a ridgeline near Squaw Valley's High Camp.
With the most vertical terrain around the lake, Squaw Valley's newly reopened bike park should delight downhill mountain biking enthusiasts.
At Lake Tahoe State Park, energetic uphill riders will be rewarded with views of the lake after four miles and 1,000-foot climb from Spooner Lake, on the Nevada side. The Flume Trail is mostly level until it drops to Incline Village, where a shuttle returns riders to the starting point.