Tahoe Nugget #211:
Tahoe Ecotourism and Cascade Lake
July 17, 2011
The latest buzzword at Lake Tahoe is ecotourism. The idea is to grow the regional economy away from declining drivers like casinos and construction. As defined by The International Ecotourism Society
(TIES) ecotourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."
Top of the Eagle Falls as it plummets to feed Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe.
I'm certain that if this new movement increases tourism in the Tahoe Basin, it certainly will "improve the well-being
of locals" and their businesses. But since Tahoe is at 6,200 feet in the Central Sierra, the "responsible travel" will
most likely still be the family SUV. Of course, some ecotourists could be bussed up from transportation hubs like
Reno and Sacramento, but many summer visitors have more on their week-long itinerary than just staying in the Tahoe Basin.
Find the trailhead at the Bayview Trailhead Campground on Highway 89 across from the Emerald Bay overlook at Inspiration Point.
Part of TIES mission statement explains that this new business model will be achieved by establishing an
international network of individuals, institutions, and the tourism industry. Success depends on "educating tourists
and tourism professionals." The final pillar requires influencing the tourism industry, institutions and donors to integrate the principles of ecotourism into their operations and policies.
Cascade Falls trail is moderate and well maintained, but please don't carry your child like this.
Lake Tahoe has been marketing its natural beauty and year-round lifestyle for years, and I have noticed more
international visitors in the past decade and especially in the last five years. The region has always had to walk a fine
line between the financial allure of development against protecting the environment and scenic value. Now that the Tahoe Basin is mostly built out, the pundits see ecotourism as the future.
I was concerned about the little boy who was acting a bit hyperactive near this cliff edge while his father spent too much time looking in the other direction. A slip would have been fatal.
Not one to complain, I will be positioning part of my business toward the educational prospects inherent in
ecotourism in order that I too may obtain some of the "well being for locals" promised in the ecotourism model.
The views are spectacular and worth every step.
I last visited Cascade Lake in June 2006 (see Nugget #84) during that spring's heavy runoff. A few days ago I
took that short hike again to see how water flows looked this year. I wasn't disappointed. White water was roaring
everywhere in the vicinity, including Cascade Falls and Eagle Falls at Emerald Bay. Took some photos and shot a
few 60 second video clips for those at home. On the scale of difficulty the Cascade Falls hike is rated as moderate, but just 1.5 miles roundtrip.
Cascade Lake with Tahoe in the background.
Once at the falls, however, plan on spending some time exploring the swimming holes and glaciated granite. Hike is
best done in the morning on a hot day as the return walk back to the car is along a sun exposed granite wall that gets toasty during a summer afternoon.
Four Video Links: Click for 1 minute videos:
Front View of Eagle Falls July 14, 2011
Top of Eagle Falls & Emerald Bay
Feeder streams above Cascade Falls
Top of Cascade Falls & Cascade Lake