Lake Tahoe is one of the most picturesque areas in the world, and the East Shore Trail is often referred to as “America’s Most Beautiful Bikeway.” With breathtaking views and stunning landscapes around every corner, it’s no wonder that this trail is a popular spot for bikers and hikers alike.
If you’re planning to bike the East Shore Trail, you’ll definitely want to bring your camera along to capture some of the amazing scenery. In this guide, we’ll take you through the best Lake Tahoe photo spots along the trail and in the area that you can access via bike (or E-Bike) to document your trip.
About the Tahoe East Shore Trail
The East Shore Trail is a paved path that’s open to both hikers and bikers. The trail is approximately 3.5 miles long, and it’s an easy to moderate difficulty ride with some uphill sections.
If you don’t have your own bike, you can rent one from Vista Trail Bikes, which is conveniently located in Incline Village near the trailhead.
The trail is open year-round, but it’s important to note that it can get quite snowy in the winter, so be sure to check the conditions before you go to the various Lake Tahoe scenic spots. The East Shore Trail is generally free of snow from April through November, but it’s important to note that weather conditions can affect its accessibility.
In the early and late seasons, there may be snow or ice on the trail, making it more difficult to bike. Additionally, it’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan accordingly, as storms and high winds can create unsafe biking conditions.
To get to the trailhead, you’ll start at Vista Trail Bikes and head east on Lakeshore Boulevard for about 2.5 miles until you reach the trailhead. When you rent a bike from Vista Trail Bikes, you’ll also receive a helmet, lock, and a map to help you easily navigate to great Lake Tahoe photography spots.
The first mile of the trail is on the mountainside of the highway, and it offers some stunning views and perfect Lake Tahoe photo spots.
As you bike along this section of the trail, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the lake at spots such as Rocky Point Vista, as well as the surrounding mountains. The elevation gain on this section of the trail is moderate, so it’s a good warm-up for the rest of the ride.
It’s important to note that the East Shore Trail is a moderate bike ride with some inclines and declines. For the easiest and most enjoyable experience, we recommended you rent a Comfort Electric Bike.
However, the stunning views at these Lake Tahoe scenic spots along the way make it worth the effort. It’s recommended that bikers bring plenty of water and snacks for the journey, as there are limited food and drink options available on the trail.
The next 2 miles of the trail take you through a tunnel with a local art mural, and then along the breathtaking shoreline. This is a relatively flat section of the trail, and it’s a great opportunity to take in the stunning views of the lake.
Several spots along this section of the trail are perfect for photo opportunities, including a few small beaches that you can access from the trail.
Once you’ve made your way through the tunnel, you’ll bike along the shoreline, which provides even more opportunities for stunning photographs. Popular spots are Memorial Point and Emerald Cove.
If you’re looking for a great place to take a dip in the lake on this stretch of the trail, you’ll definitely want to check out Hidden Beach, which is a popular spot among locals.
This section is relatively flat, making it an easy ride for all skill levels. Keep an eye out for the many pullouts along the way where you can stop and take in the breathtaking views of the lake.
Beach Access Points
One of the unique features of the East Shore Trail are the 11 beach access points along the way. These points provide an opportunity to stop and swim in the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe, or simply relax on the sandy beaches.
Hidden Beach is a popular stopping point with stunning views, but there are several other beaches worth exploring as well. Keep in mind that many of these beaches require a bit of a walk from the trail, so be sure to lock up your bike (included with all rental bikes) before heading down to the water.
One beach access point that is worth mentioning is Secret Cove. While not directly on the East Shore Trail, it’s just a short distance away and provides some of the most stunning views of Lake Tahoe.
The cove features crystal-clear water and rocky outcroppings, making it one of the more popular Lake Tahoe photo spots for photographers. It’s a quiet, secluded beach that’s perfect for those looking for a peaceful moment away from the crowds.
Like Hidden Beach, Creek Beach also offers stunning views of the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. Visitors can access the beach by locking up their bikes at the nearby bike rack and taking a short walk down the trail to the beach.
Remember to pack a towel and swimsuit if you plan to take a dip in the lake during the warmer months.
When photographing the beaches, it’s important to consider the time of day and lighting conditions. The best time to take photos of the beaches is during the golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise or before sunset when the light is soft and warm.
This will give your photos a soft, warm glow and enhance the colors of the water and surrounding landscapes. If you plan to take photos during the day, try using a polarizing filter to reduce glare and make the colors pop.
Along the East Shore Trail, you’ll also find 16 vista points with plaques providing information about the history and geology of the area. These vista points offer some of the best views of the lake and are a must-stop for any photographer.
Many of the vista points also have restrooms and other amenities available, making them convenient places to take a break and snap a few photos. While all of the vista points along the trail offer stunning views, there are a few that stand out in terms of photography opportunities.
For example, the Bonsai Rock Vista Point features a unique rock formation in the water, which makes for a great foreground element in your photographs.
Sand Harbor State Park
The East Shore Trail ends at Sand Harbor State Park, which is one of the most popular destinations in Lake Tahoe. The park features crystal-clear water, sandy beaches, and beautiful rock formations that make for stunning Lake Tahoe photos.
If you’re planning to spend some time in the park, keep in mind that it opens at 8am and the water is generally calmer in the morning, making it a great time to take photos.
It’s worth noting that there are some bike access rules and restrictions within Sand Harbor State Park. The entrance fee for bikes and pedestrians is $2. Bikes are allowed on paved roads and bike paths, but not on the beaches or hiking trails. Be sure to follow all posted signs and be respectful of other park visitors.
Some Practical Photography Tips to Make Your Efforts Worthwhile!
To make the most out of your bike ride and photography opportunities along the East Shore Trail, it’s helpful to come prepared with some photography tips in addition to knowing the best photo spots around Lake Tahoe
For example, the best time to take photos of Lake Tahoe is during the golden hours, which are typically the first and last hours of sunlight of the day. During these hours, the lighting is softer, and the colors of the sky and water are more vibrant.
Additionally, consider using a polarizing filter to reduce glare on the water and to capture more vibrant colors.
Another tip for taking photos along the East Shore Trail is to experiment with different angles and compositions. For example, getting low to the ground or finding a higher vantage point can add depth and interest to your photos. You can also try to incorporate leading lines into your photos by using the shoreline or bike path to guide the viewer’s eye.
The Bottom Line
With its stunning natural beauty and countless photo opportunities, the East Shore Trail is a must-ride for anyone visiting Lake Tahoe.
By using this guide, you’ll be able to plan out your ride and take advantage of the best photo spots along the way. Be sure to bring your camera and take advantage of the many opportunities to capture the natural beauty of this incredible area.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to make the most of your trip to the lake and capture serene Lake Tahoe photo spots, be sure to check out our other blog posts!