Gearing up for the Spartan North American Championship in North Lake Tahoe on Sept. 25-26? If so, you're probably far more focused on training for the race than you are on what to do when it's over (as you should be). But there's so much more to do in North Lake Tahoe than just racing, and the surrounding location is a huge reason why this race weekend is so epic.
We didn't select North Lake Tahoe as the site of the North American Championship by accident. This epic venue hosted the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, and the race features intense vert and stunning views. The brutal, high-desert singletrack slashing the sides of glacially-formed Sierra Nevada mountains provide the container for Tahoe's basin, and frigid water temps and unforgivable alpine weather only make this outdoor mecca a more thrilling backdrop for ruthless competition.
But because you're busy prepping to destroy this Spartan staple, we pulled together our short list of the most badass, active things to do in North Lake Tahoe this fall. Be sure to book a few extra days in town after you cross the finish line to stay, explore, and go on a few adventures. It'll be worth it.
5 Spartan-Approved Things to Do in North Lake Tahoe
1. Hit the Mountain Bike Park
Grab your mountain bike and head to Northstar to experience Tahoe's only lift-serviced bike park. Crafted for mountain bikers, by mountain bikers, its man-made features flow through several trails to help you defy gravity and score adrenaline-pumping speed. Don't miss the local favorites: Livewire and Gypsy for jumps, and Sticks N' Stones and Boondocks for technical descents. Get more information and an interactive trail map here.
2. Dive the Shipwrecks in Emerald Bay
If you're into scuba diving, you can't miss the newly established Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail, an underwater exploration of shipwrecks scattered across the bottom of Lake Tahoe. Descend to each of these scuttled vessels strewn together in the nation's largest, most diverse collection of sunken watercraft.
3. Stand-Up Paddle the Epic Underwater Boulder Fields
The Lake Tahoe Water Trail is a 72-mile water route along the shoreline with several public launch and landing sites, as well as recommended paddle routes for a breathtaking SUP or kayak adventure. Maps, signage, and safety tips help you circumvent the lake easily so you can explore the majesty of Lake Tahoe without a hitch. Keep an eye out for boulder fields and other striking geographical features unique to the lake as you go. And if you're feeling extra bold, take the plunge in the 50-some degree water afterward, because, why the hell not? AROO.
4. Hike to Impressive Vistas of Fall Foliage
Just a short drive from Tahoe's north shore, you'll find insanely gorgeous (and sparsely traveled!) hiking trails that lead you up the rim of the basin through dense, majestic forest. Check out Blackwood Canyon on the west shore, which features granite peaks as the background to panoramic lake views at Eagle Rock. Or, hit up Spooner Lake, a short 2-mile loop on the east shore that can extend 4 more miles to Marlette Lake, taking you through colorful aspen groves, cottonwood thickets, and mountain ash stands.
BONUS: Fuel Up Like a Spartan Pro at the Pre-Race Dinner
Every OCR athlete should load up on carbo-rich grub the night before a race (or risk bonking on the course). But meal planning — or eating out — when you're on the road can be a total drag. We've got you covered with our pre-race dinner at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24 at Bar One in Olympic Village. Chow down, sip on N/A beer from Athletic Brewing Company, and get jacked up about the next day's race during an athlete Q&A. Tickets are available for purchase in advance only.