Spend a day relaxing at Emerald Bay

Tom’s Experience visiting Emerald Bay:

Emerald Bay is a National Natural Landmark that includes Eagle Falls, Fannette Island and Vikingsholm Castle. This area has been called one of the most photographed places on earth since it has such diverse beautiful scenery.

Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe

There are only two ways to get to the beaches at Emerald Bay, by boat, or by hiking 1 mile one-way with a 450 foot elevation change down to the beach. The hike is on a dirt road and can be very hot. There is a pier that you can jump off of and a sandy beach area for swimming. The sand is a little rocky so beach shoes are a good idea.

Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay has also been designated as an Underwater State Park and there is plenty for scuba divers to explore under the water. There is a fee to park in the main parking for Emerald Bay and parking is very limited so come early. Dogs are not allowed at Emerald Bay. There are also kayak and other rentals on the beach if you would like to get something to try to make it out to Fannette Island.

Tom’s Rating:

Trail Info: The Emerald Bay parking is well marked by the side of the road off of highway 89. There is a fee to park. The trail down to the beach and pier is well marked and often very crowded.


Emerald Bay Parking:     38.954378,-120.110307

Emerald Bay Beach:    38.952305,-120.106224

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Discover the hidden Hoi Chi Minh Trail

Tom’s Experience on the Hoi Chi Minh Trail: 

The Hoi Chi Minh Trail got its name from UCSD students and local surfers who named it after the Hoi Chi Minh Trail of Vietnam War infamy.

Hoi Chi Minh Trail

This is a short, but steep, trail down to Black Beach through interesting rock formations.

Hoi Chi Mihn Trail to Black Beach

There are some sand steps that are carved out of the sandstone to help people down through some narrow rock formations.

Hoi Chi Minh Trail

Surfers use this trail a lot in order to get down to the beach. We were impressed that the surfers could haul their boards through some of the narrow spots.

Footsteps on Hoi Chi Minh Trail

Black Beach is an interesting beach with very steep cliffs right next to the ocean.

On the Hoi Chi Minh Trail

This trail didn’t take too long to get to the beach but it was steep and the sand made it slick. The sandstone formations were incredible and we really enjoyed this, but be careful and watch your step. Dogs are allowed on Black Beach after 6pm.

Tom’s Rating:

Trail Info: Find parking on Salk Institute Road and follow the road to the end. This road dead ends at some sort of treatment facility. The Hoi Chi Minh Trail starts here and leads down to the ocean.


Trailhead = 32.886104,-117.247124

Black Beach = 32.883718,-117.252389

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 Please comment below to share your experience hiking the Hoi Chi Minh Trail to Black Beach. Don’t forget to register to receive the Travel Tom’s Newsletter by submitting your email in the bar above.