Kayaking Fordyce Lake and Hiking Signal Peak in Tahoe National Forest


Weekend of kayaking and hiking

Kayaking Fordyce Lake

The road to Fordyce Lake is  gravel and loose dirt, requiring 4 wheel drive, but the final descent to the lake made clearance an issue as well. With the swaybar disconnected, the Jeep rocked back and forth to the point where I worried the kayaks, mounted on our roof rack, would go flying right off.


Camp, sweet camp

There are many sites near the water but the area is popular so arrive early for the best spots.


Our visitor

As we sat around eating breakfast Sharon jumped up screaming, “That’s a bear!” “Where, I don’t see it?” “That big lump of fur moving towards us down that hill!” It was in fact a bear. He paused to look at us for a while; long enough for me to grab the camera and snap a few pictures. Then he moved on. I think he may have wanted to go to the lake, but we blocked his way.


The lake is calling and we must go

The lake is not that large so half a day is enough time to circumnavigate. However, pulling ashore as various spot will let you explore cross-country.


Interesting lake features


Attention: Do not damage this sign

The level of the lake (it’s really a reservoir) was rather low and the lake itself is no more than 3 miles in length. Smoke from the nearby fire poured into the area and limited the visibility somewhat. The trip lasted about 5 hours during which time we casually paddled no more than 7 or 8 miles.


Fordyce Lake with smoke pouring in



On board I’m the captain, so climb aboard, and we’ll search for tomorrow…

Where the road ends, the dam starts; we walked across saying goodbye to the lake and admiring the jet of water draining at the bottom of the other side.

Hiking Signal Peak

Off to summit Signal Peak. The trail, a Jeep road, starts about 1.5 miles from the start of Fordyce Lake Road and climbs a steep 1800+ feet over 2+ miles. The first mile is covered in forest and rather pleasant. The remainder is exposed and we could feel the heat of the day. We were rather disappointed as the smoke of a nearby fire obscured the magnificent views which I’m sure this hike affords otherwise.


The lookout

Just before mile 2, stands an abandoned lookout station. The two rooms are open for exploration and covered in graffiti.


Signal Peak from Red Mountain Peak

Signal Peak lies maybe a quarter mile past the lookout and is covered in radio installations. From there you can go cross-country across the saddle and stand on Red Mountain’s other peak (my topo refers to this as Red Mountain Peak).

Camping by Fordyce Lake will not afford you solitude due to the rather heavy off-road traffic. We shared the trail up to Signal Peak with dirt-bikes (though doable I don’t recommend taking your truck unless you really know what you’re doing). However, the area was quite pretty and we had the lake to ourselves while kayaking.

For more national forest adventures, visit our U.S. Forest Service Agency Guide.