Lake Tahoe had an overabundance of nature trails, mountains, fishing and camping sites, and with regards to where we stayed, plenty of nightlife. Initially, we placed the Lam Watah trail to Nevada Beach on our to-do list because of its convenience to where we stayed; the trail was a half-mile walk from the hotel. We considered the earlier mentioned Emerald Bay State Park as the “Main Event” of our Tahoe trip. Lam Watah was always intended to be a secondary attraction. Since we are exclusively used to the nature of New Jersey, as beautiful as it is, we assumed that it would not take much to blow our minds in Tahoe- no matter where we visited. Needless to say, and possibly as expected, this 2.8 mile journey to the breathtaking Nevada Beach completely overshot our expectations, and created lasting memories that will stay with us for a lifetime.
Unlike Emerald Bay State Park, Lam Watah was not situated along a desolate mountain range; in fact, the entrance to the trail was right off of the very busy interstate route 50, which connected both Nevada and California in Tahoe South, serving as the main highway for the region. The trail opens up as a beautiful prairie in open land. Mercifully, the sun did not beat down on us during our trip in mid-May 2021, so the open space was breezy, and not at all glaring. The pine air escalated as we walked towards the heart of the trail, within the forested area leading us to Nevada Beach. Frequently visited by hikers and dog owners (and dogs without leashes!) alike, the forested portion of the Lam Watah trail was on a blacktop.
The Lam Watah trail to Nevada Beach is essentially a back trail that connects the main highway running through Stateline, NV to the picnic-friendly beachfront that coasts the southeastern border of Lake Tahoe. Much like any other destination that we visit, the Lam Watah trail has a historical context that has impacted both the tourism and ecological conservation of the South Shore. Used for nearly 1,000 years as a campsite, the 2.8 mile spread of trail is spoken for by the U.S. Forest Service. That prairie landscape that introduces the trail was once a part of a casino development plan, but the local Nature Conservancy saved the land and preserved it as a trail. “Lam Watah” is derived from the Washoe Nations phrase, translating to “permanent mortar by the stream.”
The beautiful forested portion of the trail is easy to navigate; thanks to directional signs and a smooth pavement. We noticed many people walking their dogs, and many small families pushing their strollers; this was not a difficult hike. As we eagerly approached Nevada Beach, we were not ready for the view that we were about to experience. Just before that, we noticed an open campsite in the forest, just before the Nevada Beach approach. It was serene, relaxed, and intense all at once.
There’s not much to write about in terms of the imagery provided by Nevada Beach. It’s one of those things that you’ll need to experience for yourself to fully digest the destination. The sand was a dark brown- almost like a milk chocolate powder. The water was pure blue and cold as ice. The destination ahead led to a pastoral landscape of the Sierra Nevada mountains on the other side of Lake Tahoe; it was undeniably breathtaking. The wind of the pines fused into the unique combination of beach air and the clean atmosphere of the mountains. Every breath meant something.
We spent as much time as we could at Nevada Beach before it got too dark– we still had plans to eat Thai food— , so we began the 2.8 mile walk back. Leaving Nevada Beach was a tremendous bummer, but an experience that will never leave us. We took the forest trail and made our way back to the open prairies and back to the crowded traffic of route 50. After dinner we took a cab back to the hotel, tired as hell. The Lam Watah Trail to Nevada Beach blew our already high expectations out of the water, and once again reinforced our decision to make the trip out west.