Tackle Tahoe’s wilder side

Scale the Tram Face on the Tahoe Via Ferrata. | Alpenglow Expeditions

The sled slowly makes its way up the mountain. My nephew, Anikin Allen, fidgets in the seat in front of me giddy with excitement. As we climb up the steel tracks of Heavenly’s Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster he talks quickly about how fast we might go when we reach the summit and the views we’ll see.

“Kat, I want you to go as fast as we can,” he says and explains the hand signals he wants to use (the same ones we use while tubing behind the boat): thumbs up, faster; thumbs down, slow down.

As we approach the top of the ridge, the expanse of Lake Tahoe opens before us as the sled turns and beings to descend, quickly gaining speed. “Slow down just for a minute so we can see the view,” Anikin exclaims.

I put on the brakes as we admire the view, the coaster perched on the edge of the mountainside. “Ok, now go fast, but not too fast, so we can see,” Anikin orders.

We twist and turn through the trees, descending the mountain in near silence on the gravity-fed coaster to the bottom. Grinning ear to ear, we exit the car. Anikin briefly considers riding the coaster again, but he’s anxious to try the zip line, one of the many activities located at the top of the Heavenly Mountain Gondola.

We stop for a drink and snack and head off to the Red Tail Flyer Zip Line. There’s no one in line. In minutes, Anikin is fastened into his harness. He climbs the tower and launches on the kids-only, 100-foot zip line. Still no one in line, he takes another turn on the zip line.

You can easily spend the summer exploring Tahoe’s hiking and mountain-biking trails, playing in Big Blue and relaxing on the beach, but when you’re ready to enjoy an adventure to get the blood pumping try tackling some of Tahoe’s wilder adventures such as the Mountain Coast and Red Tail Flyer, to name a few. I’ll start with the wildest of the wilder side.

3Gs in a stunt plane
Fly, dive and spin over Lake Tahoe with the talented pilots of Sky Combat Ace. You’ll strap into a stunt plane with experienced pilots who will show you what’s it’s like to fly a combat plane. Not for the faint hearted, but a thrill of a lifetime. | skycombatace.com

Free fall at 120 mph
Sky diving over Lake Tahoe takes a once-in-a-lifetime experience to a different level. Strap in with an instructor and dive out of a perfectly good plane for spectacular views. Sky Dive Lake Tahoe operates out of Minden, Nev., while Sky Dive Truckee-Tahoe (closed this summer) leaves from Truckee Tahoe Airport. | skydivelaketahoe.com, skydivetruckeetahoe.com

Ride the rapids
A guided whitewater adventure on the Truckee River has it all — amazing scenery, swimming holes, local history and gentle rapids to prepare you for the Class III rapids that await downstream with names like Jaws. I’ll can tell you from experience, you’ll want to pay attention to your guide and follow all commands to make it through the rapids in the boat. Hint: Look for the coupon for Tahoe Whitewater Tours in this edition. | whitewatertours.com, raftirie.com, gowhitewater.com

Sail through the sky
It’s you strapped to a pilot with a chute. You take off from the top of a mountain and glide for 30 minutes to an hour before touching down on a sandy beach. Ready to take it to the next level? Sign up for the speed-flying course. | laketahoeparagliding.com

Ride the wind
Take in the views as you glide through the sky while someone else pilots your craft. Glider rides are equally serene and exhilarating. You take off towed by another plane, climbing high in the sky before being released. “Do you want a mild or wild ride?” the glider pilot asks before diving, climbing and rolling over Sierra peaks for a wilder ride. On the milder side, just enjoy the views of Lake Tahoe and the boundless horizon as you glide on the winds. | soartruckee.org

Powered hang glider
It’s a tiny two-seater with a motor, wings and an instructor. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views and the thrills. | hangglidingtahoe.com

Reach top speeds on Big Blue
Take an adrenaline-fueled ride aboard the speed boat “Tahoe Thunder.” Reach Emerald Bay from South Shore in record time traveling at 60 mph. | action-watersports.com

Conquer the Via Ferrata
If you’ve ever dreamed of scaling the steep, jagged cliffs of the Tram Face at Palisades Tahoe, then you’ll want to sign up to tackle one of four routes on the Tahoe Via Ferrata. But don’t worry, you’re in a harness on protected routes with experienced guides. Kids at least 3 feet, 11 inches in height can join the fun. | tahoevia.com

Take to the trees
Once you’ve secured your harness, climb into the treetops at locations around Tahoe and explore the forest across rope bridges, scale climbing walls suspended in the air and fly across zip lines. | tahoetreetop.com

Fly over Lake Tahoe
There are several options for flying over Lake Tahoe and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. You can book a flight for a helicopter tour or a seaplane tour. Or you can join an early-morning, hot-air balloon ride that launches and lands from a barge on Lake Tahoe. | tahoehelicopters.us, flylaketahoe.com, laketahoeballoons.com

Parasail with the family
Gently ascend from a boat on Big Blue to enjoy the scenery while the boat pulls you. It’s a gentle flight and silent except for the wind. You will land back on the boat. Rides can fit up to three people at once and kids need to be 5 years old to join the fun. | Numerous outfitters

Share your favorite adventures, tag us @TheTahoeWeekly. Left out? Then, you haven’t invited us to join you. Email us at editor@tahoethisweek.com.