Sunday, May 25, 2014

Best Hikes In Tahoe - Skunk Harbor, East Shore

Category - Moderate
View Rating - 7 out of 10
Distance - Approximately 3 miles round trip (As always on any hike of any distance, bring extra food, water, and clothes!)
Elevation Gain - 650 feet (Note that this hike descends first, then ascends on the return)
Highest Point - 6900 at the highway where you park

The beach at Skunk Harbor

Another great hike that is overlooked by the hiking guidebooks is the hike to Skunk Harbor. It follows an old, closed road from East Shore Hwy 28 down to a spectacular cove on the lake. Because the road is wide enough for people to walk side-by-side, and because the grade is gentle, it is a great hike for groups.
There is a small parking area on the highway 2.4 miles north of the intersection of Hwy 50 and Hwy 28 just below Spooner Summit. 
The trail is behind the gate. There is enough parking for 6 or 7 cars.

Although most people don’t know about this hike, if you want to get a parking space, you should get there in the morning (shoot for 9 a.m.) and you should avoid weekends. There is a space for six or seven cars. If they are all taken, you’ll have to find a place down the highway, and walking any distance along the highway is not recommended.
From the moment you step past the locked gate, you will see the spectacular views that are present on the entire hike. Much of the lake is spread out below you, and you will marvel at what you can see, especially if you bring binoculars. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows and Homewood ski resorts are all in front of you across the lake.
Alpine Meadows on the left and Squaw Valley on the right.

The trail is wide enough for groups of people.

When you get down to the postcard-perfect harbor, you’ll find the old, dramatic remains of the George Newhall summer getaway. Newhall was a 1920’s playboy with great inherited wealth. He and his family had a large estate on the West Shore, but they wanted a play spot on the East Shore. There was no road to Skunk Harbor at the time. So they built their wonderful Skunk Harbor getaway with materials and labor all brought in by boat. Talk about Beach Party Heaven! You’ll have fun exploring the beach, the boulders, and the stone house, which is closed off, but you can peer into the windows and imagine what life must have been like for very wealthy Tahoe residents during the Roaring Twenties.
Those posts in the water used to hold up a large pier.

Nice little getaway cottage!

Note the outdoor fireplace

Plan to have your picnic lunch on the beach before you head back up to the highway. You will marvel at the clear water and the perfect little bay while you transport yourself back ninety years to another era.
Water doesn't get much more clear!

Here is the sand beach where the Newhalls used to party.

This is the next cove to the north.
The East Shore is full of these spectacular, secret places
that you can only get to by boat or by hiking.

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