Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

Recently, while visiting Lake Tahoe,  I turned 50 years old. My children don’t believe it and opine that I was around when the Tahoe Basin was carved out by glaciers. Anyway, I really wanted to hike the Rubicon Trail for my birthday and approached my beautiful wife with the idea. After thinking about it for half a nanosecond or so and having the enthusiasm of someone forced to spend the entire day at the DMV, she reluctantly acquiesced, deciding that I needed supervision after the Eagle Lake episode.

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The 6.6 mile trail starts at Vikingsholm Castle at the tip of Emerald Bay and ends at DL Bliss State Park. The trail runs right along the shoreline or within view of Lake Tahoe almost its entire distance. The walk took us three hours from 0840 to 1140 and according to my beautiful chaperone, was one of the most beautiful hikes she has ever been on. For comparison purposes, I have dragged her through Yosemite Valley and the Bavarian Alps and this walk was one of her favorites.

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It is hard to state the breathtaking beauty of this walk and pictures cannot do it justice. In my opinion, the Rubicon is one of the best hiking trails in Lake Tahoe. It is a moderate, mostly flat hike with some gradual grades. The steepest part of the trek is the first mile down from the parking lot to Vikingsholm Castle. I recommend leaving a car at DL Bliss State Park and then, parking a second car, starting your journey from The Vikingsholm/Eagle Falls parking lot. This way, your steepest grade is downhill.

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We traveled on August 15th and the weather was perfect although by the end of the hike we were very warm. We each used about a quart of water. I cannot overstate the importance of getting here as early as possible. After 9:00 AM, the parking lots are full and the highway is jammed. It cost $10.00 to park in each parking lot but it was well worth it. At the end of the journey, there were flush toilets and sinks at the DL Bliss Parking lot instead of the plastic porta-potties at the Eagle Falls parking lot. There are vault toilets at Vikingsholm Castle which is very much worth the extra time to see when you visit Lake Tahoe.

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The trail itself was dusty but unforgettable. Remember to stop frequently and just soak in the breathtaking views. Much of the hike is in the shade or near the water so it keeps you cool. If you go, have been, or want to visit Lake Tahoe, I would love your perspective and input. Happy trails!

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Here is a one-page trail map you can print and take with you:

Emerald Bay Snip

Heidi’s Restaurant in South Lake Tahoe

You cannot go wrong stopping in for breakfast at Heidi’s when you visit Lake Tahoe. Heidi’s restaurant features hearty breakfasts in a Scandinavian inspired atmosphere. The distinct yellow chalet can be found in the center of South Lake Tahoe in the Bijou shopping center right next to the CVS pharmacy. You can’t miss the bright yellow chalet right next to Highway 50/South Lake Tahoe Blvd.

Heidis exterior

The interior is covered with hardwood, knotty pine and features numerous wooden booths for seating. You would expect to see a Black Forrest cuckoo clock on the wall, reminiscent of Bavaria. There is a mural of the Matterhorn to complete the setting.

Heidis dining room

I had the opportunity to take a beautiful woman out to breakfast the other day and we stopped into Heidi’s which was very busy but it was only moments for a table. The service was excellent and the food high quality and plentiful. You will not be leaving here hungry. In addition to breakfast, Heidi’s has a wide variety of food options including lunch items.

dining booths

My wife chose the chicken fried steak and eggs and I opted for the Joe’s Special omelet. With a coffee and an iced tea, the bill came to $37.55. Although the restaurant had a lot of hustle and bustle, moving diners in and out, we were not made to feel rushed and the servers were attentive.

Joes special

We both enjoyed our meals and would recommend stopping at Heidi’s Restaurant in South Lake Tahoe. Come enjoy our hospitality!


Heidi’s Menu:

Open Daily
(530) 544-8113

3485 Lake Tahoe Blvd
South Lake Tahoe, CA

Map Snip

Zephyr Cove Park – South Lake Tahoe Gem

Zephyr Cove Park is a must visit if you have children, tennis players, disc golfers or hikers with you when you visit Lake Tahoe.

Zephyr Cove Park - Picnic Gazebo
Zephyr Cove Park – Picnic Gazebo

Zephyr Cove Park is the perfect place for a picnic and barbecue. There are picnic tables everywhere, by the tennis courts, by the ball field, by the volleyball court, by the disc golf course and by the playground. There are picnic areas that are more secluded, away from activities as well. You will also find a huge group picnic area. Because of its hidden location, many tourists have never heard of Zephyr Cove Park, so there is usually plenty of room for everyone.

Zephyr Cove Park - tennis courts
Zephyr Cove Park – tennis courts

You will find the following amenities at Zephyr Cove Park:

  • Picnic tables
  • Barbecue facilities
  • 6 tennis courts
  • Softball/soccer field
  • Library
  • Playground
  • Hiking trails
  • Sledding hills
  • 18 hole disc golf course
  • Volleyball court
  • Restrooms
Zephyr Cove Park - playground
Zephyr Cove Park – playground

Parking is free. Hiking is free. Sledding is free. Playing is free. Everything is free, thanks to the generosity or the local residents of Douglas County. Come enjoy our hospitality!

Zephyr Cove Park - softball & soccer field
Zephyr Cove Park – softball & soccer field

Zephyr Cove Park is located 4.6 miles from the California/Nevada state line, in Nevada. Travel north from South Lake Tahoe on highway 50 for 4.6 miles. You will see Zephyr Cove Resort and Beach on your left. Take the next right (at the fire house) onto Warrior Way. You will see an elementary school on your left and the park facilities on your right. If you turn right immediately on Warrior Way you can park in the rear by the Playground, picnic areas, and disc golf course. If you take the second right, you can park by the library, tennis courts and softball/soccer field.

Zephyr Cove Park - map
Zephyr Cove Park – map

Best Restaurant in South Lake Tahoe – The Beacon Bar & Grill

Feel like a local when you visit Lake Tahoe.

The Beacon Bar & Grill is my favorite restaurant in South Lake Tahoe. The Beacon marries great food, friendly service and the perfect atmosphere, creating the best restaurant in South Lake Tahoe.

Drinks at the Beacon Bar & Grill
Drinks at the Beacon Bar & Grill

Enjoy live music and outdoor seating on the beach with unobstructed views of the entire lake. Generous umbrellas provide shade on super sunny days, while fire pits and elegant heaters keep you comfy when it gets chilly. Sunset at Lake Tahoe is an unforgettable event and the Beacon Bar & Grill offers premium seating for each evening show.

Beacon Bar & Grill Outdoor seating
Beacon Bar & Grill Outdoor seating

The Beacon offers typical pub food with gourmet flavor. You will find appetizers like Deep Fried Calamari or Chipotle Shrimp & Sausage Nachos for under $20.  Lunch entrees include the best fish & chips in South Lake Tahoe for $14. Dinner surf and turf offerings for dinner range from Clam Chowder in a bread bowl for only $10 to Filet Mignon for $39. Kids will enjoy tasty treats like Slider Burgers or Mac & Cheese from the children’s menu.

Beacon Bar & Grill Indoor Dining
Beacon Bar & Grill Indoor Dining

The Beacon Bar & Grill has a full service bar with HDTVs tuned to your favorite sporting event. Try their house special Rum Runner, absolutely the best Rum Runner on the planet!

Beacon Bar & Grill Rum Runner
Beacon Bar & Grill Rum Runner

The Beacon Bar & Grill is located in Historic Camp Richardson Resort at 1900 Jameson Beach Road. From South Lake Tahoe take Highway 89 toward Emerald Bay. You will find the turn off for the Beacon Bar & Grill approximately 2.6 miles from the ‘Y’ in South Lake Tahoe.

Map to the Beacon Bar & Grill
Map to the Beacon Bar & Grill

The Beacon Bar & Grill is open 7 days a week from 10:30 am to close. Live music is feature from 1-5pm every day (except Tuesday) during the summer.

Tahoe & the Three Bears

Move over Goldilocks, Lake Tahoe bears are not waiting for you and your friends to get off the beach. This momma bear and her cubs are ready for a swim and a snack.

Pope Beach Swim
Pope Beach Swim

Visit Lake Tahoe this summer and you may get a peek at our favorite forest neighbors. Three Tahoe black bears visited Pope Beach on Thursday to the surprise and delight of many two legged visitors.  Beach-goers respectfully maintained their distance as the trio cooled off in the water then made their way to the picnic area for a treat.

Looking for a picnic basket
Looking for a picnic basket

Lake Tahoe bears are a wonder to behold but let me caution you. Bears can be extremely dangerous to human beings if you get in a confrontation with them. People can be very dangerous to Lake Tahoe bears if you feed them. When bears become comfortable around people they are emboldened and will continue to visit populated areas placing people at risk. If a bear creates a nuisance, authorities will tag and re-locate the bear to a more remote habitat. If the bear continues to frequent areas populated with human beings, the bear could end up being euthanized. So please, do not encourage bears to co-habit with people by feeding them, this could ultimately lead to their demise.

Protect Lake Tahoe bears
Protect Lake Tahoe bears

Come visit Lake Tahoe during the summer and you may get a peak at one of our forest neighbors. It is certainly an unforgettable experience. Visit to learn more about momma & her two cubs at Pope Beach.





Bijou Park, South Lake Tahoe

You have GOT to be kidding me… So I dropped my teenagers off at the soccer field at Lake Tahoe Community College for practice at 8:00 a.m. I was in the mood for some quiet time and ready to enjoy the peace and quiet of the morning. Bijou Park, South Lake Tahoe is directly across the street from the College, at 1201 Al Tahoe Blvd. South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150. Inspired by the promise of serenity, I headed over to the park.


Bijou Park is a beautiful, sprawling, full service park that has a surprising number of amenities. As I walked through in the early morning hours, I headed to the very far back corner near the meadow. There, I found a bench in the trees next to a Gazebo picnic area where I could sit and enjoy the solitude and quiet. There was hardly anyone in the park at that hour. Hoping to catch a glimpse of some deer feeding in the meadow or maybe one of our local bears wandering through, I was enjoying the fragrance and peace of the forest.

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It was at this point that I noticed a maintenance truck pulling a trailer, drive into the park. I watched with casual interest as the truck navigated its way through the park and continued on towards the remote corner in which I sat. The truck continued coming closer until it pulled up to the curb, pointed directly at me. I became a bit alarmed when the truck drove up and over the curb onto the shredded bark and drove straight towards me.

dog park sign

With alarm turning to fear, the truck approached the bench where I was sitting and stopped within a few feet of my knees. Leaving the truck idling with the headlights shining in my face, the driver waved and hopped out. Walking to the trailer, he fired up a generator and yelled over the top of the deafening roar that he needed to clean the picnic area for a party. He then proceeded to pressure wash the gazebo blasting clouds of dirt and high pressure mist in all directions.

As I got up and moved away from the bright lights and roaring engines, I had to laugh as I peered through the man made storm to see that he and I were the only two people visible in the entire park! This anecdote may give you some insight into the kind of luck I have but don’t let it detract you from visiting the park! I love that the City does an excellent job of keeping it very clean.

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Bijou Park, South Lake Tahoe is huge and contains two very clean covered gazebo picnic areas with barbeque pits in addition to a:

  • Basketball court
  • BMX Bike Park with air pump station
  • Fenced dog park, open to the public
  • Historic railroad exhibit
  • One of the top disc golf courses in the country
  • Open meadow, great for walking, relaxing or getting steam cleaned!
  • Restroom / concession facility
  • Skateboard park
  • Volleyball courts
  • Children’s playground

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I hope you stop by and enjoy a really wonderful park! For further info or to reserve a picnic area, go to

Don’t Worry, Be Happy! – Live Music in South Lake Tahoe

This is my message to you  – fellow Parrot Heads and Rasta’s…

If you need to change your latitude this summer and can’t get away to the Islands, the Lake Tahoe Raggae Festival at the Hard Rock Casino may be just the ticket when you visit Lake Tahoe.


Two of the bands this year have Hawaiian roots: “Pepper” hails from Kona and comes to us by way of San Diego. Mike Love is from Oahu. Ky Mani Marley and Don Carlos are both from Jamaica.

Each vocal group reflects their heritage and provides a good variety of musical styles. “Israel Vibration” has a traditional sound with an excellent tune called “My Master’s Will” that I really enjoy.

There is sure to be something you will enjoy and the live music festival in South Lake Tahoe.  If you are in Tahoe, everything is going to be alright!

For tickets:

For event info:

Lodging suggestions: Four star lodgings are available at Harvey’s and Harrah’s right next door or the Marriott Timber Lodge Resort  is one block away.

Go to the movies in South Lake Tahoe – Heavenly Village Cinemas

Hospitality is key when you visit Lake Tahoe. Heavenly Village Cinemas is a great place to enjoy some of that Tahoe hospitality we are famous for. So take a load off, have a snack and enjoy your favorite blockbuster films.

Heavenly Village Cinema exterior
Heavenly Village Cinema exterior

Visit Heavenly Village Cinema on the west end of the village a short stroll from Base Camp Pizza Company. Heavenly Village Cinema has 8 screens for your viewing pleasure. You will find movies from every genre, including family movies that the children will enjoy. All show before 6 pm are $9. After 6 pm, you will pay 12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3 to 11. Seniors have the discounted rate of $9.25 after 6 pm.

Heavenly Cinema Snack Bar
Heavenly Cinema Snack Bar

Heavenly Village Cinemas is the only place to see movies in South Lake Tahoe. The cinema is located within walking distance of dozens of restaurants. Get a bite to eat before you come, or enjoy a snack at the movies. Popcorn, candy, and hotdogs are all on tap at the Heavenly Village Cinemas snack bar.

You have been sunbathing or skiing all day. Now you’re ready to get out of the sun and give your feet a break. Do it. Visit Heavenly Village Cinema today.


A Sea Monster in Eagle Lake

Look mommy a sea monster! This is how the hike ended but let me share with you how it began…

Today I went on a simple hike to Eagle Lake which is just above Emerald Bay. I arrived at the trail-head parking lot at 0830 and took the last parking spot available. After getting my day use permit and paying my $5.00 parking fee, I set out on my trek. For the benefit of the reader, I am 50 years old, overweight and out of shape. I wanted to see how navigable this trail was for a variety of hikers.

The trail to Eagle Lake from the parking lot is well maintained, well-marked and consists largely of granite stairs/steps.

Granite stairs
Granite stairs

Upper Eagle Falls come quickly into view and a bridge crosses the falls providing views up and down a gorge. The walk was very pleasant and provided breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay. I saw several pregnant women, scores of children and the elderly all navigating the trail without issue.

Upper Cascade Falls with bridge to Eagle Lake trail.
Upper Eagle Falls with bridge to Eagle Lake trail.

One hour later, after numerous stops for pictures and sightseeing, I arrived at Eagle Lake. What a beautiful place! The craggy granite bowl and peaks that frame the lake were extraordinary. The lake is relatively small and I could see the whole circumference. This is where the simple hike began to go south.

Eagle Lake
Eagle Lake

I was standing at the headwaters of the creek that left Eagle Lake and fed Eagle Falls. I hatched the idea that it would be a great idea to go see the creek coming from Velma Lake that filled Eagle Lake. After all, I could both hear and see the spot where that creek entered Eagle Lake. If I was standing at 6:00, the other creek was about 11:00. It looked like a nice stroll around the lake with the navigation of a small field of boulders on the opposite side but hey, no big deal, they didn’t look that big from where I was standing! I would go find a nice spot in the shade, listen to the brook, smoke my pipe and watch the fish jump. I briefly noted that the only people visible were all enjoying the bottom of the lake around the 6:00 position with no one visible anywhere else. Undeterred by such trivial observations, I set out in a counter clockwise direction.

Visitors frolic in Eagle Lake
Visitors frolic in Eagle Lake

The day was very warm and I had neglected to wear bug spray because it was morning and I didn’t think the mosquitoes would be out yet. They weren’t – but the flies were, and in abundance. I’m not sure if the sight of an old fat guy flailing wildly at the air while climbing through the bushes was alarming or entertaining. I discovered by the time I reached the 2:00 position that nature never intended for people to traverse the perimeter of the lake. Those of you to follow would be better served by enjoying the accessible part of the lake and then going back the way you came.

Strongly resisting the alarm bells of reason that were sounding in my brain and instead of going back to a place where I could enjoy the lake, I suppressed good sense and forged ahead. I could almost hear my wife telling me that this was not a good idea but she had elected to not accompany me on this hike – I’m not sure why. Her parting words as I left the house had something to do with “old and foolish” but I’m sure she was just kidding; she’s likes to tease me like that. She tried in earnest to send me with a chaperone but I insisted “I’ve got this!”

Gateway to Desolation Wilderness
Gateway to Desolation Wilderness

By the time I bushwhacked my way through nearly impenetrable foliage, I arrived and the field of small boulders which actually ranged in size from as big as my truck to as big as my house. Determined to win I forged ahead. Remember that this was a very warm day. A field of granite in the direct sun was not unlike crawling across the surface of the sun. As I dragged myself up and over rough granite trying not to plummet to the bottom, my legs became cut up and bruised. I now alternated between hanging on for dear life and hopping around on the blistering hot rocks like a spastic monkey. Add in the flailing at the flies and I must have been quite the spectacle for the rational folks.

At one point I stopped to put my heart back in my chest and enjoy a bout with heat stroke. As I clung to the side of a rock by my teeth and fingernails, a passerby happened upon me. He was hanging by a rope with a harness and a bandolier of caribeaners around his chest. He yelled down to his belay person, some very unkind things about my mental capacity and decision making, which I will not repeat here. He obviously has no taste for adventure.

Finally clearing the field of boulders, I bushwhacked through another impenetrable thicket of thorns, weeds, and sticks, much taller than I was, to reach the creek. Upon arriving at the creek, the brush was so dense that the water could only be glimpsed underneath the thick canopy of brush. I began looking for a way across it because thus far, except for the bleeding, I was still dry. As luck would have it, there was no way across. I fought my way to the mouth of the creek where it enters Eagle Lake and determined that the only way across was to wade across the mouth of the creek where it was shallow. Makes total sense, after all, I could see the sand mere inches below the water! I stepped out and down in the same instant. Sinking up to my knees in silt, the struggle to free myself propelled me forward. Finally able to free my legs from the silt and mud, I found myself in the middle of the creek in water up to my chest. At this point I realized three things: it was a very good thing that my briar pipe full of Captain Black Dark and my beef jerky were in the top pocket of my day pack near my shoulders. It was not a very good thing that my $800 Samsung smart phone was in the cargo pocket of my shorts two feet below the water, and third, the water really felt very nice and was an excellent complement to heat stroke!

Of course there was no way out on the opposite bank so I tripped and fell and waded along the shore until I could pull myself out onto a blistering hot granite boulder. At this point a large, unidentifiable creature covered in mud and sticks pulling itself out of the lake onto a rock may have startled more than a few. (My apologies to the tourism folks). I laid on the rock catching my breath until my clothes and I started to smolder from the heat. I was at the 10:00 position on the lake. I did get to briefly enjoy an Eagle soaring overhead but when the fish started to both laugh and curse at me, I knew it was time to go.

View of Emerald Bay from Eagle falls trail
View of Emerald Bay from Eagle falls trail

Finally making it back to the trail, I took a last look at Eagle Lake and headed back down the hill. The look of fear and concern on the faces of the tourists coming toward the lake was a bit much I think. Some averted their eyes, shielded their children or asked if I needed an ambulance. Geez, you would think they had never seen a red faced wheezing, bleeding, fat man covered in mud and sticks squishing down the trail leaving behind a trail of water before!

I made it back to the parking lot at 1117 hours. When I got home, my wife took one look at me and muttered some things very similar to the guy on the rope about my mental capacity but I can’t really repeat that here. She is such a kidder!

I highly recommend hiking to Eagle Lake, drinking in the majesty, splashing in the water and then going back out the way you came.

I am putting together another hike soon so if you need a tour guide, just drop me a note! Happy trails!