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Lake Tahoe Summer Activities - Hiking Trails
Lake Tahoe Hiking Trails

According to the purists, there is no better way to experience nature than on foot, and Lake Tahoe, with its perimeter spanning thousands of square miles of forest land, is a hiker's heaven.

From the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Visitors Center, you can choose from the Rainbow, Tallac Historic Site, Trail of the Washo, Forest Tree, Smokey's and Lake of the Sky Trails, which range from one-quarter to three-quarters of a mile on easy terrain. Elsewhere, trek the Fallen Leaf, Mt. Tallac, Glen Alpine, Clark, Angora Lakes, Hawley Grade, Meiss or Echo Lake trails. Difficulty levels on these trails range from easy to strenuous and range in one-way mileage from one-half to 6 miles.

Another way you can start your journey into the wilderness is by exploring the California state parks in the Lake Tahoe area. D.L. Bliss State Park, located near the wouthwest part of the Lake, is a good place for camping and picnicking under the pines or swimming at nearby Lester Beach.

Emerald Bay State Park is considered one of the most beautiful areas in the United States, as evidenced by its status as a Registered Natural Landmark. Carved by ancient glaciers, Emerald Bay offers unequaled scenic hiking, camping and tours to nearby Vikingsholm, a 20th century reproduction of a Scandinavian castle.

Sugar Pine Point State Park, on Lake Tahoe's western shore, offers more hiking and shoreline as well as a special opportunity for winter camping. Historians also make the trek to Sugar Pine Point - explore the Ehrman Mansion, built in 1903.

For those who really like the wild in wilderness, Desolation Wilderness in the Lake Tahoe Basin is a unique place to see an isolated piece of nature. Subalpine forests and granite trails pass through this national park, where travel is limited to foot or horseback and open campfires are not allowed.

If you're a true backcountry enthusiast, don't skip the Tahoe Rim Trail, now in its final stages of completion. The trail will wind around the entire lake in a 150-mile loop past isolated alpine meadows, rugged ridges and areas of historical significance.

West Shore Trails
Trailhead Description (mileage one-way)
1. Cascade Falls Trail Moderate - .75 miles to top of falls
2. Vikingsholm Trail Moderate - 1 mile to castle
3. Rubicon Trail Moderate - 5 miles along Emerald Bay
4. Meeks Bay Trail* Moderate - 4.5 miles to Lake Genevieve, 8 miles to Rubicon Lake
5. Bayview Trail* Strenuous - 1 mile to Granite Lake, 5 miles to Fontanillis Lake
6. Eagle Falls*+ Moderate - 1 mile to Eagle Lake
Strenuous - 4.5 miles to Dicks Lake, Velma Lakes, 5 miles to Fontanillis Lake
7. Page Meadows Moderate - Wonderful wildflower walk
* Wilderness Permit Required - fee for overnight camping
+ $3/day/car parking fee (waived for overnight permit)
Click here for Desolation Fee Information
South Shore Trails
8. Angora Lakes Trail Easy - 0.5 miles to Angora Lakes (Enjoy fresh squeezed lemonade by the lake)
9. Echo Lakes Trail* Moderate - Lower & Upper Echo Lakes, Tamarack Lake, Lake Lucille, Lake Margery, Lake of the Woods, and Lake Aloha (6 miles)
10. Glen Alpine Trail* Moderate - to Gilmore Lake (5 miles)
Strenuous - to top of Mt. Tallac (6 miles)
11. Mt. Tallac Trail* Moderate - to Cathedral Lake (2.5 miles)
Strenuous - to top of Mt. Tallac (5 miles)
12. Heavenly

Download color map (PDF)

East Peak Trail - approximately 1 hour
From the top of the gondola, the East Peak Trail gently climbs almost 400 vertical feet. This 1.6 mile round-trip jaunt meanders through the forest to a vantage point with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley.

Sky Meadows Trail – approximately 1.5 hours
From the top of the gondola, you’ll cruise down the Sky Meadows trail. If you like to stop and smell the flowers, this hike is for you! This 2.2 mile round-trip hike takes you downhill almost 500 vertical feet, where you will find meadows full of natural wildflowers. Just don’t forget – it is uphill all the way back to the gondola!

East Peak Lake Trail – approximately 2.5 - 3 hours
Pack a lunch and head out for a great hiking adventure! The 3.8 mile round-trip East Peak Lake Trail starts off with a gradual uphill climb, continues with a hike along a picturesque ridgeline, and then descends to East Peak Lake.

* Wilderness Permit Required - fee for overnight camping

Directory for Recreation and Attractions

Weather conditions may change unexpectedly; bring proper clothing, and plenty of water, no matter how short the hike. Wilderness permits are required for Desolation Wilderness year-round and campfires are not allowed. Day hikers may obtain a permit at the self-service stations located at the trailheads. Overnight users must pay fees and pick up their permit at the Eldorado National Forest Information Center in Camino or the Forest Service Taylor Creek Visitor Center. Topographic maps are available. Dogs are not allowed on California State Parks trails and must be on a leash on Forest Service Trails.