Surprise Proposal at Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe
Nathan and Leandra celebrated their anniversary of being together for almost a decade by going to Lake Tahoe for the weekend. Little did she know, Nathan had a surprise planned for her once they got to their “hiking destination” at Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe.
Weeks before, Nathan emailed me asking to help him plan a surprise for his girlfriend – soon to be fiancee! We had talked extensively about this one location that he had seen in an image search and fell in love with. Using Google Earth and some brilliant sleuthing skills, we were able to find the exact coordinates that gave him the view that he wanted to propose at. We shared the GPS coordinates, a time to meet, and made up a plan for them to go on a hike through Vikingsholm and end up at the location for the most important question!
Upon getting to the location, he pulled her aside to a view point by the rocks. I was there, hiding behind a large boulder with a long lens. They talked for a while, looking out at the view. He dropped to one knee and asked if she would marry him. She was ecstatic when she said YES and accepted his ring. Afterwards, they picked up their little pup and told him the great news – his parents are getting married!
Where is Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe?
Emerald Bay is a short drive from the town of South Lake Tahoe and can be accessed via Highway 89. It is located on the South West shore of Lake Tahoe and is the only inlet on the lake and home to Lake Tahoe’s only island, Fannette Island. It’s located within Emerald Bay State Park, which spans just over 1500 acres and geographically south of D.L. Bliss State Park. Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe is home to many landmarks. Most famously, the park is home to Vikingsholm Castle, a relic of old times that is accessible by a steep downhill trail to the Emerald Bay beach.
Vikingsholm Castle is a 38-room mansion that is long considered as one of the finest and most incredible examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States. Vikingsholm Castle was built in 1929 by Mrs. Lora Knight, and still holds some of its original features.
Things to Do in Emerald Bay, California
Vikingsholm Trail and Fannette Island
Built in 1928 by Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight, Vikingsholm is considered one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the United States. She wanted to build a summer home that would compliment the magnificent natural surroundings. Emerald Bay beach reminded her of fjords she had seen on her travels to Scandinavia. She decided to commission her nephew, Swedish architect Lennart Palme, to design the home.
Vikingsholm was completed in the fall of 1929. The exceptional summer home was enjoyed by Mrs. Knight and her guests, until her death at the age of 82 in 1945. It is now a part of the Harvey West Unit of the Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe State Park. The house is open for tours during the summer months and the magnificent scenery can be enjoyed all year round.
Engagement and Proposal Photography Planning
Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe is a popular spot to ask the most important question of your life. Many people choose to propose at this picturesque spot for a moment that they will never forget. For their Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe engagement photography session, we clambered up the top of rocks and over snow piles to get to the ledge overlooking Fannette Island.
Hiking at Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe
Eagle Falls Trail
Start at the parking lot of Emerald Bay State Park. There’s a vista point that you can take pictures of the lake from above, or if you’re feeling a little extra adventurous, you can climb the big rocks for a higher and better view. You can see Fannette Island clearly from the top of the rocks, and down the path is the entrance to Eagle Falls Trail.
Eagle Falls Trail is a 1.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near South Lake Tahoe, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Leading into the heart of Desolation Wilderness (a permit is required), the Eagle Falls Trail offers forest, lake and far reaching views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra high country.
Rubicon Trail Tahoe
The Rubicon Trail along the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe is a gem! It’s easily accessible and has some of the best views around Tahoe. It’s absolutely a hike one can look forward to repeatedly. The Rubicon covers a lot of terrain. There are flats, undulating short elevation gains and drops, and twists along some stunning shoreline cliffs. The trail dips into secluded coves, and along easily accessible shorelines in Emerald Bay. At both the beginning of the trail and end are a campgrounds, also along the south shore of Emerald Bay, you can find active nesting area for Eagles.
Rubicon Trail is a 16.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail that features a lake and is rated as moderate. Along the streams grow alders, quaking aspen, mountain dogwood, service berry and bitter cherry, and black cottonwood. Wildflowers include columbine, leopard lily, lupine, bleeding heart, yellow monkey flower and nightshade. The bulk of the brush includes ceanothus, chinquapin, currant, gooseberry, huckleberry, and manzanita.
Due to it’s length and difficulty, I suggest reading a Rubicon Trail guide before attempting this trek. Especially if it’s your first time doing so, you will find a lot of helpful tips in navigating the the Rubicon Trail in Emerald Bay.
The Bayview Trailhead serves as an entrance to Desolation Wilderness. Many short options and loops are possible with this trail. Consider heading to Maggie’s Peak or create a loop with Eagle Falls Trail, or head higher into the wilderness and Velma Lake, near the PCT. From the trailhead, take a right (left is Cascade Falls Trail) and start up steep switchbacks. You’ll soon hit Granite Lake. The trail stays above it, but you can trivially hop down to the lake for a swim or this could be your final destination if you’re looking for a short hike.
Cascade Falls Trail
With lakes and waterfalls galore, don’t forget to check out Cascade Falls Trail. Cascade Falls is a moderate hike that opens up to a 200-foot waterfall which surrounds Cascade Lake. This trailhead begins at the far end of Bayview Campground and is only two miles round trip.
About Starscape Studios
Kimmi Cranes is a South Lake Tahoe wedding photographer. Her style combines color, vividness, and authenticity to capture genuine smiles and moments to remember during your wedding day or photography session. Servicing locations around Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, Reno, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the greater SF Bay Area, Available for travel to destinations worldwide.