Archives for July 2011

Fishing The Mighty Truckee

The best things are sometimes the ones that you pay a ton of money to do. But then again, sometimes the best things are those that simply combine powerful elements – oh, and they’re free: Water, Air, Food, Offspring…and Quiet Times.

A boy and a riverbank

The Truckee River brings lakewater from one of the prettiest places in all the world and tumbles it down a gorgeous canyon before spilling this incredibly pure liquid into the endless, dusty Nevada desert. I remember being dumbfounded when I learned that Tahoe is the source of Pyramid Lake, just 50 short miles north of Sparks.


The upside to this is that it takes the weight of ‘purity’ off of the river. You can do just about anything you want around this waterway – like build train tracks and later a road alongside. Or install a miniature dam at its mouth and hire someone to control the flow. You can put bridges across it that lead to little Forest Service huts and multi-million dollar getaways. But the best thing that was done to the ole Truckee was the little bike/walking path that runs over the former train tracks. It is from this path that one can creatively mix the elements mentioned above.


The way I chose to do this recently was to take my boy fishing. Within five minutes of finding the shore everything was backwards. He fell in the river and I had to go to the bathroom. We were a mess. But the magic of Tahoe soon righted us and we were upright on the banks of the river fashin’ like good ole boys and waving to rafters as they floated by. After about fifteen casts I asked the little boy if he wanted to try. “Yeth.” I was reeling in a cast, “handed” him the rod, and the instant his chubby little palms hit that fiberglass there was a tug on the line! The boy had success in his first second of trying the most frustrating sport known to humankind.

Lucky Son of...Me!

Fishing around Tahoe can be done a variety of ways. The method I generally use is at the bottom of the self-respecting fisherman’s barrel: spinning rod and some lures from WalMart. This works on the Lake in May when decent-sized fish are within casting range of West Shore piers. It also works two days after the Truckee River is stocked (a friend of mine saw the truck dumping trout into the river a couple days before I took my boy). But to get fish, and a wealth of fish stories, year-round there are some charter options at Tahoe that are great. The most popular is Big Mack out of Carnelian Bay. For those who prefer solitude (and have a few more bucks to spend) there are some smaller private lakes with guides available. If all of this sounds ho-hum to you, well there’s always fish hunting which is when people go after the elusive California Golden Trout – supposedly found in only the most remote and highest lakes of this area and nowhere else.

Whatever your poison, I simply say don’t forget the last of the critical elements. Whether you’re bouncing around on the Big Mack with a bunch of buddies, or stalking Browns on a remote shoreline, be sure to stock up on a little laziness…’cause after all, isn’t that how this necessity became a ‘sport’ in the first place?


Everyone's Doing Their Thing on the Truckee

The Truckee River bike path goes into Tahoe City and down the West Shore.

Four Beautiful Properties for Sale in Brockway Springs

The prices in this gorgeous enclave reflect the privacy and quality of amenities/neighbors that you’d expect from a gated lakefront community. There are only about 22 houses in the subdivision and they have access to their own lakeside pool, tennis courts, pier and moorings in Lake Tahoe. This is a wonderful spot. There are currently four homes offered for sale here. One is in escrow as a short sale and other three are all in the $4m range. You can use the Map Search to easily find all the homes for sale here and in Historic Old Brockway, located just to the east of Brockway Springs.
Disclaimer: This data is from the MLS and none of these are my own listings.

Floating the Truckee River

Get yourself an innertube, an old lawnchair or better yet, rent a real raft…

Mariah Hernandez enjoying the Float...

The Truckee River has been a harbinger of good things ever since people started liking lots of snow. When flowing high it proves that we recently had a great winter. All that runoff from mighty Lake Tahoe has to flow through Tahoe City’s ‘Fanny Bridge’ and the dam right above it. So that means that the water from the Jewell of the Sierra is carried solely by the Truckee River. Though ‘The Truckee’ has some exciting rapids as it parallels Rte. 80 through the canyon just before Reno, the portion of the river up our way is much more mellow. The main rafting excitement comes from being unprepared – mentally and/or gear-wise – for the low-grade rapids between Tahoe City and Alpine Meadows.

“Oh my gosh, honey – I’m in a tree!” It was my mother-in-law laughing and screaming at me as I lazily sipped on a deliciously cold refreshment at the rear our raft. I was the guy in charge of steering this blue marshmallow and was asleep at the wheel. We slowly spun and scraped along some willow bushes before heading backwards down the rapids. You see, that’s what happens on the Truckee. You enter a state of mind wished for in those Corona ads; a state of mind which you usually have to fly halfway across the globe, or at least out of the US, to find. Only problem I had on this particular day was the m-i-l who was getting tenderized and letting me know about it! In classic Truckee fashion, the raft corrected itself from the bushes and we safely made it down the bumpy little rapids.

This is a 'small' party on the Truckee

The river snakes its way five miles through an absolutely gorgeous valley with huge ridges all along both sides. Fields of cattails lead to wide areas of marsh grass. Other sections have sandy-beach islands with cut-throughs where you can try to make your way down the side less-travelled. Deep pools make your raft a diving board and other spots can transform it into a slip’n’slide if you flip it over. Tahoe’s famous clarity makes the river an awesome place to spot rainbow trout which are also closely watched by osprey and bald eagles high above (mergansers get a good look at them, too, as they dive for edibles below the surface). Along the banks you’ll also find conveniences like port-o-potties and trash cans, sometimes there’s an ice cream cart, and at the end is the well-known River Ranch with delicious grill food, punch and anything else you could want.

The Infamous Gumpipe(sorry to mention it right after the food)

The Infamous Gumpipe

I’ve seen people float the river on non-buoyant lawn chairs. I’ve seen people in full wetsuits in November. I’ve even seen paddleboarders out there – going upstream. But the easiest way to ‘do’ the river is sign up with the Truckee River Raft Co. (530-583-0123) or with Mountain Air Sports (530-583-RAFT).

Go Home on Bike - the bike path runs along it...

Get Home on Bike – the bike path runs along it…

State Of The Tahoe Lakefront Homes Market

There are currently 70 lakefront homes listed on the California side of Tahoe. They range in price from $1.39m to $24.9m. Of them, 9 are in escrow right now and these are priced between $2.5m – $7.1m. Year-to-Date sales number 9 and a price range of $1.025m – $6.3m. We were looking at roughly 2 sales per month and now there are 4 set to close in August. Clearly the market has picked up significantly.

Within these lakefront listings there are 3 Short Sales and 1 foreclosure.

This data is from the Tahoe Sierra MLS.

State Of The Tahoe Lakefront Condominium Market

For Tahoe lakefront condos, the market needs to be looked at in two segments. The first are condos which have a higher price point, better amenities, significant piers, buoys/moorings and swimming pools. These include Fleur du Lac, Chamber’s Landing, Tahoe Tavern, Tavern Shores, Cedar Point, Tahoe Marina Lodge, Rocky Ridge, Chinquapin, Brockway Shores, Star Harbor, St. Francis, The North Shore, Heratage Cove, and Water’s Edge.The second group includes those with a lower pricepoint, lesser amenities and lower monthly HOA dues. These include Chateau Chamonix, Tahoya Shores, Sweetbriar, and The Franciscan.


In the first group, there are currently 40 on the market and only 4 in escrow. We have had 5 close year-to-date. The starting price for this group is $299 (Tahoe Marina Lodge) and the median is $795k. Of note, there are 4 Chamber’s Landing units for sale ($1.795m – $2.45m) and one in Fleur du Lac ($4.2m).


In the second group, there are 10 units for sale, only 1 in escrow and 2 have sold year to date. The prices range from $135k – $400k.

This data is from the Tahoe Sierra MLS.

Immunity Gone! Tahoe Lakefront Foreclosures / REO’s

It’s true but sounds worse than it actually is. Tahoe has only had two lakefronts go into foreclosure. The first was in 2009 – it ended up getting underpriced which resulted in roughly 21 offers and a sold price of $3.15m which was almost $1,000,000 over asking price. There are, however, three lakefront short sales on the market now.


View Tahoe Lakefront Foreclosures / REO’s and Lake Tahoe Lake Front Short Sales

Chamberlands inventory shows variety

The fantastic Chamberlands neighborhood currently has listings from $449,000 all the way up to a neighborhood high of $1.3m (remember, this is list price). There are currently nine houses on the MLS in Chamberlands and they represent a nice variety of options. Last year Chamberlands had a sale in the $300k’s (Tahoe Real Estate Group represented both buyer and seller) and this year we are on the verge of seeing a couple more. A longtime owner-builder asked me to help sell his older family cabin. It’s on Flicker and the price is going to be in the $300,000’s. We are getting inspections done now to see the extent of repairs necessary and then it will be priced accordingly. Chamberlands buyers should note that there are 8 Recreation Association memberships being offered for sale for $50k each.

This data is from the Tahoe Sierra MLS.

Skyland Tahoe Lakeview Foreclosure / REO Sells

The great little neighborhood of Skyland just had a house sell today which was a foreclosure. It is rare to see an REO in this boutique neighborhood on Tahoe’s West Shore. The property has a nice lakeview and 4 beds, 3 baths plus a two-car garage. It sold for a mere $617,000.

This data is from the Tahoe Sierra MLS and I was not involved in the transaction.

Standup Paddleboard Scene on Tahoe

A Scene on the Move

Standup Paddle Race from Kings Beach to Speedboat Beach

Believe it or not but standing up does have a scene. I’m not talking about babies walking for the first time or raising an obelisk. No, this scene is aquatic and even though many folks are impressed with a story about walking on water, this particular scene somehow doesn’t seem like it should be very impressive – but it is!

A One-Man Scene...

There is a relatively new sport to the mainland US which hit Tahoe a few years ago: Stand-up Paddleboarding. It’s a blend of kayaking and surfing but while doing it you feel more like anything that you’re hiking…on water…without moving your legs. I guess it’s a tough one to boil down but suffice it to say that if you enjoy spending time on the water, you have to try ‘SUP.’

There are two ways to go about it. One is touring style. A new local company called Tahoe SUP has committed to this way of paddling. Their boards are made from environmentally-friendly materials and utilize high-end design specs. The other local outfit is Tahoe Paddle & Oar which also has the long cruisers but they also make boards for surfing. On a lake, the ones for surf are a lot slower but lots of fun when the wind kicks up and things get frothy. Going out against the waves is as fun as trying to get pushed home by them. New boards run from $1400 – $3000 so renting is a fantastic option! Just a couple minutes from Granlibakken you can pick one up at Tahoe City Kayak starting at $18.

The Valois Family happily floating

The stand-up paddle scene on Tahoe is growing exponentially each year. Every self-respecting kayak shop now has sales, rentals and some have tours – there are even SUP fitness classes. It’s the really low-impact workout combined with mellow water-time and Tahoe’s famous clarity that have made the sport blow up here. You can go as strenuously or lazily as you please. You can chat with the person next to you. You can test your balance while coasting among Tahoe’s famous submerged boulders.

A really fun way to experience the Stand Up Scene is to join in on one of the rallies. The next one is Tahoe’s biggest and it’s call Ta-Hoe Nalu on August 13-14. You’ll see venders, there are usually free demos, and you’ll get a good feel for this mellow watersport has many of us hooked.

The best sites for local info are,,, and

Don't Tip with the Little Ones on Board...

The Big Blue Lake Family a couple years ago…

Chamberlands Short Sales

Chamberlands isn’t immune from the economic woes being suffered by much of the country. There were two short sales which sold in the neighborhood this spring. The first was a little 3/2/1 that sold for $426k. The second, I had listed for $775k and we ended up getting $725k. The bank was happy and we got this short sale completed in very good time. The second short sale is still on the market – price is $499,000. It’s been remodeled and has a classic yet custom cabin feel. It has Full Rec membership to the beach, pool, and tennis club. This one is not my listing.