Are you looking for the prettiest lakes to kayak and paddle board in California's Sierra Nevada? You've come to the right place!
Home to countless alpine lakes, the Sierra Nevada Mountains offer some incredibly scenic opportunities for kayaking and paddle boarding. Paddling along a pristine lake with a backdrop of towering evergreens and snow-capped peaks is truly a magical experience. As the lakes are small and the water is usually calm, paddle boarding on an alpine lake isn't particularly challenging, so both beginners and seasoned paddle-boarders can enjoy this activity.
In this post, I'm listing six paddle board locations that not only have gorgeous scenery but are also easily accessible. You can drive right up to these spots and launch just a few steps from your car. So grab your paddle board or kayak, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada.
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Straddling the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a top destination for paddleboarding due to its gorgeous alpine scenery and crystal-clear water.
One of my favorite locations to paddle board in Lake Tahoe is the east shore, a rugged section of Lake Tahoe with large granite boulders and beautiful turquoise coves. Sand Harbor State Park is one of the most convenient places to launch your paddle board from and access the east shore. If you don't own a paddle board, you can easily rent one from several companies within Sand Harbor State Park.
Sand Harbor and the east shore are on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, but there are many stunning spots to launch from on the California side including D.L. Bliss State Park, Emerald Bay State Park, and Meeks Bay.
Located in the heart of Mammoth Lakes, California, the easily accessible Lake Mary is the largest lake in Mammoth Lakes Basin and is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and of course, kayaking and paddle boarding. The lake features sparkling blue water and a beautiful wall-like backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Paddle boards and kayaks are available for rent at both the Lake Mary Marina and the Pokonobe Resort and Marina.
Located about 20 minutes north of Mammoth Lakes, June Lake is a picturesque alpine lake with the majestic Carson Peak as the backdrop. Not only is June Lake a stunning spot to kayak and SUP, but it's also very convenient. You can drive right up to the lake and paddle on out! If you don't own a board, kayak and paddle rentals are available on the beach.
The area features a 14-mile scenic loop known as the June Lake Loop, which offers plenty of beautiful scenery, a handful of lodging and restaurant options, as well as a few smaller lakes that are also great kayaking and SUPing spots.
Tucked away in the Sierra Buttes in the Lakes Basin area of Tahoe National Forest are Upper and Lower Sardine Lakes. Both lakes are perfectly framed by the jagged Sierra Nevada mountain range, making for an impressive scene. Lower Sardine Lake is the more accessible of the two lakes, as you can drive right up to the lake and launch your kayak or paddle board steps from your car. Upper Sardine Lake is smaller than Lower Sardine Lake and requires a 1/2 mile hike up a bumpy, rocky dirt road to reach it.
Convict Lake is another beautiful place to paddle board in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Located about 10 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, just off HWY 395, Convict Lake is a small lake surrounded by towering glacially carved peaks. It's one of the most popular lakes to photograph in the Eastern Sierra due to its spectacular scenery. Paddle boarding and kayaking are easy at Convict Lake as there is a boat launch that you can drive right up to, and Convict Lake Resort offers kayaks and paddle boards for rent.
Located about 20 minutes south of Bishop, California, at the end of HWY 168- one of the most scenic roads in the Eastern Sierra (the views along this entire road will knock your socks off) is Lake Sabrina. The greenish-blue lake is surrounded by gigantic granite peaks, making for an impressive scene. Kayak rentals are available at the Lake Sabrina boat landing, but as far as I know, they don’t offer paddle board rentals. Of course, you can bring your own and use the boat launch.
Lake Sabrina is also the trailhead for some of the most beautiful hikes in the Eastern Sierra, including Blue Lake, Baboon Lakes, and Hungry Packer Lake, to name a few.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to paddle boarding and kayaking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss the latest blog posts, videos, and announcements! And of course, you can check out more adventures on YouTube and Instagram.