Sunday, September 15, 2013

Best Beaches In Tahoe - Baldwin Beach

Baldwin Beach – (Southwest corner of Tahoe)
Parking – Plenty, but always a good idea to get there early!
Fee - $7 per vehicle
Dogs – Sorry, not allowed, not even in vehicles!
Boat Launch – No, unless your boat is a kayak, paddleboard, or canoe that you can carry to the water.

As the bulk of the tourists return home in September, Tahoe's beaches become even more attractive. By several measures, Baldwin Beach may be Tahoe's greatest beach. It is a mile long and quite broad from water to the shore plants, it has great swimming if you're brave when it comes to cold water, and it has great views of the lake as well as of Mt. Tallac and Maggies Peaks. Further, if you're looking for a good place to launch your kayak for a great paddle to Emerald Bay, Baldwin is the closest public beach.

Looking east toward the ski runs of Heavenly
Looking west toward the mountains that border Emerald Bay

Behind the beach is Mt. Tallac, snow-covered in the spring and early summer and beautiful in the fall.

Baldwin Beach has picnic tables and barbecues as well as nice rest rooms (a big benefit at a beach). Bring your sweetheart or your family and friends for one of the great Tahoe beach experiences.
Get there early to claim a picnic table

Waiting for cheeseburgers

The nicest beach restrooms on the lake

Baldwin Beach has parking closer to the beach than most, especially the west lot (turn left at the T).

Baldwin Beach is bordered on the west side by private property and on the east side by Taylor Creek, which drains Fallen Leaf Lake. East of Taylor Creek are Kiva and Pope beaches. More on those in another post.
Please note that the water in Taylor Creek is very cold and swift in the spring and early summer. It is also deeper than it looks! While some people wade through the creek when the water is low in the fall, I do not recommend taking the risk. You could possibly get swept out into the lake in the ice cold current.

How to get there:
Baldwin is a bit over 4 miles northwest of the “Y” intersection in South Lake Tahoe. Head out 89 toward Emerald Bay. When you see the Camp Richardson Hotel, drive another 1.4 miles toward Emerald Bay and look for the Baldwin Beach sign.

If you plug “Baldwin Beach, South Lake Tahoe” into Google Maps, you will get what you need.
While they charge $7 per car to drive in, you can park for free in a lot just before the check-in building. The walk in is a pleasant half-mile or so.
You will come to a T with parking lots to both the right and left. I prefer the left lot, although, if you're walking, it is a greater distance. Also, if you want to rent a kayak, the vendor usually sets up on the beach near the right lot.
The beach closes to vehicles in the middle of October, although you can still walk in after that. In the winter, if it isn't snowing and the roads have been plowed (i.e., making it safe to park without getting towed), you can park on the highway and cross-country ski or snow-shoe in. Baldwin is a fabulous winter picnic location on the lake with few, if any, other people around.

There is a fenced area to protect the endangered Tahoe Yellow Cress, the only place in the world where this little flower grows!

A rainbow of colors to choose from, but note that the kayak vendors only come when there are enough people to justify it. If the beach is mostly empty, there won't be kayaks to rent.

Bring an umbrella, lots of sunscreen, and a mystery novel to read, because Baldwin Beach is a sweet place to spend an entire day!


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, Camp Rich (Richardson) is a great place to stay and hang out - more on that in another post! For those who don't know, Camp Rich is east of Baldwin Beach about 1.5 miles. Camp Rich is adjacent to Kiva and Pope Beaches.