Chimney Beach, named for the chimney on the beach (go figure) is in Tahoe, on the Nevada side, and in true Nevada style you're going to have to hike to get to it, but that is why we love it! Plus its free, so there's that.
There are two optimal parking lots for Chimney, the one I use is on the East side of Nevada 28 and there is one on the West. My directions will be for coming from Reno to the one on the West, if you are coming from elsewhere then...I have faith in you to figure it out. If you are coming from Reno though, take Mount Rose Highway (aka Highway 431) all the way to Tahoe Blvd (aka Nevada 28 I believe). Take a left on Tahoe Blvd and follow it for about ten minutes, there will be a turnout on your right hand side with some bathrooms, about 30 parking spaces, and the trail head for the currently maintained trail down to the beach. If you can't find it, no worries! People in Tahoe are generally pretty friendly, just ask for the Chimney Beach parking area and if they know, they will probably tell you. If not then that person is an ass and you should ask someone else. Also, there is a map on the bottom of this post...yea, that might be easier.
(Side note: There is another parking area closer to the old trail. I still always go this way, I just like it more, but you'll have to find that one yourself. It's North of the main parking area. Keep in mind that the older trail is now unmaintained and you use it at your own risk.)
Once you find the trail it's probably (depending on your pace) a ten minute walk down to the water. Lillie and I always meet people on the trail, and without fail they are smiling and friendly. That's because this beach give you everything you could want. Open space, rocks to climb on, a little hike to get the blood flowing, and it's dog friendly. It's also cat, lizard, bird, and gopher friendly, for those of you who aren't dog people.
I should probably warn you all that Chimney Beach is clothing optional, and people do take advantage of this fact. That being said, I have never seen anyone nude on the main beach area, they are generally off to the sides, although the last time we were up there Lillie and a buddy of mine where pointing out some side boob on a rock out in the water a ways, so I guess you should just be warned that people may be wearing the bathing suits they were born with. You should also consider some nude sun bathing, you might be surprised how great it will make you feel to get some sun on those parts that don't usually get any.
Chimney Beach is a beautiful vantage point for Lake Tahoe (with and without the side boob) and you will probably want to bring a camera for that alone, but if you have decent timing and a little luck you may very well meet some of the nicest, most interesting people you could hope to come across. In the picture to the right is a man named Joel who was sitting in the water playing his guitar, singing, and just generally entertaining the small crowd that was on the beach that day. Good music, good beer, great friends, and a Frisbee is about all you need to bring with you, chimney will provide the rest (well, not food, unless you like squirrel).
Once you've had enough laying around in the sun it's time to hit The Runway, which some people call The Gooch, but they are wrong and should be out-casted from society for their crimes. The Runway is a place to overcome your fears, look death in the face, or just have a little fun (this really depends on how scared of heights you are). Okay really its not that bad at all. A buddy of mine once jumped off with his dog in his arms, and another guy rode a scooter off the side of the rock. It ranges from eight to twelve feet depending on the water level, and I have never heard of anyone hitting the bottom. To get there you want to follow the shoreline North until you reach a rock that stands out about ten feet from the rocks you will be standing on. One of those miscreants we discussed earlier has at some point spray painted "The Gooch" on the side of the rock next to the one you are going to jump off of. This really is one of those things that you should ask someone there to show you how to get to though, because it can be a really easy jaunt, or a treacherous rock climb over the foaming sea (well, not really foaming, and not actually a sea, but still treacherous nonetheless) depending on the route you take.
|Lillie guarding the gear while we head off to jump.|
If you decide to do it without a guide remember that the middle path is the best, too low is sketchy and too high will make it pretty difficult to get to The Runway once you get over there. The walk should take about 10 - 15 minutes, so if it was much shorter or longer than that you probably aren't there. Once you find the spot its time to put on your big boy pants and take that short leap. If you find The Runway to be a bit lax for your taste just follow the shoreline another ten minutes or so and you'll find Shadow Leap (jump off around 10:00am and you'll see why) that is about a thirty foot drop into slightly shallower water. Be warned that I am not advocating jumping off this, and I have touched bottom from the jump, although never hard enough to hurt.
Glass and open flame are prohibited, and on the rare occasion that someone of authority comes by (I've seen them maybe three times) they will ask you to put out any fire (this includes cigarettes from what I remember) and could ask you to carry out your glass to the nearest trash receptacle immediately. The nearest receptacle is at the top of the trail, so you can see how this would be a bummer, but just be respectful and tidy and you'll be fine, get me drift?
If you see me up there come say hi and have beer with us, my friends and I have taken rights to Joel and his guitar, so just look for the Musician in the Lake.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget your sunblock, Reno!
*If you hurt yourself doing anything in this article Jason Vickers, AroundReno.com, and anyone associated is not to be held liable or responsible in anyway. Your safety is your own responsibility.