Emerald Bay is a short drive West from South Lake Tahoe, and it’s always worth the trip in winter or summer. From the heights you can take in the scenic views of the bay and Lake Tahoe further out, and peek at the only island in Tahoe. You can hike up into the mountains to Eagle Falls, like I did last winter, or hike down to the beach and Vikingsholm. I’d never been down to the half castle, half-hobbit hole that is Vikingsholm so I was super excited to see it. Vikingsholm Castle was commissioned by Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight, a wealthy widow who wanted to recreate the half-wild Scandinavian feel of blending architecture with nature. Her magical summer home was built in 1929, along with a tea house on the island.
The property was sold to the state in the 1950’s. The castle is open for tours during the summer months, though the island is not. During our stay, Highway 84, which winds around the shore, was under construction so we weren’t able to get to the area until after 5pm. Access requires a mile-long walk down from the parking lot and overlook. It’s a wide paved road that’s not too bad, but coming back up is another thing… The castle tours were closed by the time we got there, so we walked the beach and grounds and peeped in what windows we could. The whole place is so stunning, even from the outside. I love that it is set back from the lake amongst the trees, and has grass growing on the roof of the “servants quarters.” It’s incredibly peaceful down there, a mile from the road and regular modern life. It’s standing there almost separate from time, a reminder of a slower way of life.
The wood carving and details were so cool. I could see myself living here quite happily, couldn’t you? There were definitely people inside, and a car passed us on the trail, so something does go on there! I passed a small sign with event details as well. Can you imagine getting married here?! Unreal. Anyway, the island looks close enough to swim to from the beach. Apparently Mrs. Knight held a boozy tea on the island every afternoon. Today, the cruise boat tours are the closest you can get to the island. Past the castle are trails that lead all the way up the Eagle Falls and beyond. The woods are wild and varied and I felt like Little Red Riding Hood. I would love to see this place in winter as well.