Lake Tahoe: Taylor Creek in the Fall

Last weekend, we revisited Taylor Creek Basin in South Lake Tahoe, a meadow and wetlands complex formed where a stream flows northward between Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe.

In the fall, from late September through mid-October, the Aspens along the creek trails turn gold and one can see Kokanee salmon spawning and running up the creek. We’d hoped we might also get to see some of the wildlife that comes to feed on them—in particular, black bears and bald eagles—but no such luck. Still, it’s a special time to visit.

There’s an easy 1/2-mile (paved) loop trail called the Rainbow Trail that begins at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center (3 miles out of South Lake) and heads through Taylor marsh and Taylor creek. It also leads to a stream profile chamber, an underground viewing chamber where trout and other aquatic life can be viewed through a window—though I think it’s the above-ground views that are the most interesting.

If you’re around this coming weekend, the park is hosting its annual Fish Festival, with children’s activities and trail runs. The visitor services close at the end of the month.

Here’s a little song about the Salmon life cycle. Sing it to the tune of “doe a deer, a female deer…”:
First an egg, a hidden egg,
Then an infant alevin,
Next a fry, a tiny fry,
Then fingerlings swim out to the lake,
Three years of lake life go by,
Eating lots of zooplankton,
Till it swims home to Taylor Creek,
Where it will turn red spawn and
Die, die, die, die.

So cheery, right?

There are a few trails that begin at the visitor center. I particularly like following the Lake of the Sky Trail. Another really easy walk, this one goes through a pine forest, with views across the Marsh to the peak of Mount Tallac, and ends at Baldwin and Kiva beach on Lake Tahoe. You can also follow the beach to the Tallac Historic Site, or on to Camp Richardson resort, though we have yet to do that.

Bonus: dogs are allowed on both of these trails, and on Kiva beach!

Beautiful in any season, it really shines in the fall.

P.S. Taylor Creek in the spring, and all the posts on Lake Tahoe. Also, I got a lot of inquiries on Instagram about my fleece. Here’s the link. Thanks!

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