Storming the Castle: Packrafting to the Castle on Lake Tahoe's Only Island
Fannette Island is the only island in Lake Tahoe and is located in the South West corner of the lake in Emerald Bay. In 1929 a small tea castle was built on the island by Laura Knight who also built Vikingsholm, which is a beautiful Nordic inspired cabin on the shoreline of Emerald Bay. The tea castle later became the home of Capitan Dick in the 1960's and then in 1994 it became protected by becoming part of the California State Park system.
To get to the tea castle on the island, first head over to Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe. There is a small parking lot and there is additional parking just south of the lot by Eagle Falls.
Once you are packed up with your packraft, paddle, pfd and other gear, hike 1 mile down to the beach along a wide mellow trail.
You can launch from the beach or a small public dock.
From there, it is a short 1/4 mile paddle out to the island.
You can land anywhere on the island but the easiest is the southwest corner which is also the most direct landing zone from shore. Be sure to bring your packraft up on shore and tie it up if it's windy.
From here a short hike up through a slightly overgrown trail. Some stone stairs will take you up to the tea castle at the top.
Once you are at the tea castle, enjoy the amazing views and take it all in! When it's time to head back, grab your packraft, paddle back and then hike out.
If you want to make the trip longer there are several options. You can launch from almost anywhere on the lake and paddle down into Emerald bay. Baldwin Beach and Rubicon Bay are great starting options to make it a 3-5 mile paddle to the island. If you want to make it a mulitday trip, there is also a boat in campground on the North West shore of Emerald Bay. You'll need to make a reservation ahead of time and it books up fast. Boat in campground reservations.
While in the area check out the Vikingsholm Castle, there are tours available to go inside and check out the amazing Scandinavian architecture. Eagle Falls is a great short hike, you can hike over to the base from the Vikingsholm area or hike down from the highway. There is also some great rock climbing right there at Mayhem Cove. In the winter Jakes and Maggies are great backcounty skiing spots.
Other places to paddle in the Lake Tahoe Area:
Truckee River: There is a great mellow float from Tahoe City to River Ranch. Further down stream there are some class 2-3 rapids if you want some whitewater action.
Lake Aloha: This is one of the most beautiful places to paddle, but since it is a 6 mile hike in, it is a great overnight backpacking trip. Lake Aloha is near South Lake Tahoe in Desolation Wilderness.
Bonsai Rock: Bonsai Rock and Sand Harbor on the East Shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada are a great short paddle with amazing photo ops.
Marlette Lake: Located on the East Shore in NV in the middle of the famous mountain biking Flume Trail. This would be a great lake to bike pack to.
Donner Lake, Prosser Reservoir, & Boca Reservoir: 3 beautiful easy access lakes with camping nearby. All 3 lakes are located near Truckee, CA.
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