A Day at Fallen Leaf Lake

Thanks to a friend of a friend, we were invited to spend a day at the Keville cabin this week, on the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake. Fallen Leaf Lake is Lake Tahoe’s little sister, a slender finger of a lake that looks like, well, a fallen leaf. Many people might not even know it’s there, because you can’t see it from the highway, but if not for a narrow spit of land it would be a part of Lake Tahoe just like Emerald Bay. To get to it you head to the Camp Richardson/Tallac area, and look for the sign marking a left turn onto a rough, winding road.

On a map the lake might look slight and unassuming, but in life it’s actually quite striking, located in a glacier-carved valley and surrounded by steep cliffs. The little human habitation there is has to cling to the water’s edge, because the slopes are just too steep to build anywhere else. There isn’t even a road that goes all the way around the lake.

The cabin we visited was on the east shore, about in the middle of the lake. It was set back a little bit from the lake, so there was a short walk to get to the water. But once you get there they have a private pier and a little rocky beach. We spent some time there letting the kids swim and paddle around in the shallow water.

The beach and pier.

Jack strolls along the pier.

Sammy posing.

Jack likes the sound it makes when he throws rocks at the boat.

Sam and Molly boogie boarding.

Molly kayaking with some weird guy.

Sammy taking the kayak for a spin on the crystal water.

But the whole time we were there Sam was itching to go out in the big speedboat. So finally we all loaded up and set out into the deep water. The lake reaches a depth of about 400 feet, and just recently an underwater forest was found and explored, showing that the water level used to be much lower. We weren’t looking for forests, though, we were just heading down to Fallen Leaf’s commercial center, the marina and store at the very southern tip of the lake.

Our host family on the boat.

A look back at the pier, a couple of folks left behind.

Sammy on the boat.

Janie and Molly on the boat.

Mommy and Jack on the boat.

One of the more extravagant houses on the lake.

Fallen Leaf Lake Store, at the southern tip of the lake.

The marina at the store.

Time to get back in the boat!

This family portrait broke about a dozen rules of photo taking.

After our voyage across the lake and back was done, it was time to head back up to the cabin for dinner. But you’d never know the kids had spent all day in the lake, because all they wanted to do back at the cabin was splash and swim in the hot tub.

Sammy leading the girls back up the path to the cabin.

The cabin in the woods.

What they won’t think of – a wood burning hot tub!

Smoke from the tub filtered through the forest.

Sammy in a hot tub with two girls…a preview of college days to come.

Hot tub hijinks.


Molly is dubious.

Vi-Jo chills out on the deck.

The cabin itself was very cozy and rustic. The old section had to have been built over 50 years ago, but since then a couple more wings had been added to accommodate the growing family. Buried deep in the trees, all you could see of the neighbors were a couple of other cabins way off in the distance.

The cabin’s front walk.

The sitting room in the old section.

Spiral staircase heading up to the loft.

Sam and Molly play chess.

On closer inspection, the chess pieces are salt and pepper shakers, purloined from roadside diners all over Nevada.

Family room and kitchen.

Finally it got dark, and we bid good night to our hosts. The boys were already asleep, worn out after a long day. And in Sam’s case, recovering from a fall that left him with a fat lip. But it was a great day, offering us a glimpse of what it would be like to live on the blue waters of Fallen Leaf Lake.

Even more pictures can be found here.

Sleep tight, Sammy!


  1. Great pics, beautiful lake, beautiful family…..looks like fun! 🙂 I think I’ll have to make a trip up there sometime…..it looks gorgeous.

  2. Camped there before and it was a beautiful place! Thanks for sharing that great trip. Loved the unorthodox family photo, too.

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