Lake Tahoe has some truly incredible hiking trails. With panoramic views of the lake, surrounding forests, waterfalls, and Sierra Nevadas, hiking is a great way to see some of the unique scenery Lake Tahoe has to offer. From beginner intermediate trails, there is a wide range of trails to cater to everyone’s skill level, and most are appropriate for children as well. Here are some of the more notable and beautiful South Lake Tahoe hiking trails:
As one of the most beautiful hikes the south shore has to offer, the Rubicon Trail is a 4.6 mile moderate hike that stretches from D.L. Bliss State park to Emerald Bay (or vice versa). Winding along and above the shoreline, this trail offers incredible views of the lake throughout the entire hike. It is recommended, unless you are looking to do a 10-mile hike, to take two cars, and park one at the whichever trail head where you will be ending your hike.
Starting from from the stone observation area above Emerald Bay, the Vikingsholm Trail winds down 1.7 miles to lake level along a dirt and paved road. At the bottom, you will find the Vikingsholm Castle, Lower Eagle Falls, Emerald Bay Beach, and picnic area. Guided tours are available seven days per week in the historic castle, and the beach area is a great place to take in a picnic with panoramic views of Emerald Bay. Considered a moderate hike, it drops 400 feet in elevation, so you do need to be prepared to hike back up.
Eagle Lake Trail
This is a great two-part trail which takes you to Eagle Falls after a short 5-10 minute hike, or up the full 1.7 mile hike to Eagle Lake, if you would like to continue on — a great spot to enjoy a packed lunch and refreshing dip in the lake. At Eagle Falls, there is an observation bridge with beautiful views looking back towards Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. At the Eagle Falls trail head, you will need to obtain a wilderness permit at the kiosk (a nominal fee, and a short information card to fill out), as the trail enters Desolation Wilderness, and all who enter need to be documented. With the trail head located inside Emerald Bay, the area can get quite congested, so parking can be quite limited (especially on weekends), so arriving early is highly recommended.
Located near Emerald Bay, the trail head is located off of Highway 89 across from Inspiration Point. The 1.4 mile trail navigates through forest and over stone steps with Cascade Lake below, and the breathtaking Cascade Falls at the end. Along the way, there are also many vantage points with excellent views of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe; it’s a great trail to pack a picnic for a well-deserved meal next to the falls. Rated easy/moderate, this hike is great for all skill levels. There is a small parking area with limited parking, so again, arriving early is highly recommended.
Van Sickle Bi-State Park
Located behind the downtown casino area at Stateline, the Van Sickle Bi-State Park trails are easily accessible. A short climb from the trail head quickly transports visitors to the serenity of the forest. The park’s easy to moderate trails are studded with rock outcroppings that present grand views of the largest alpine lake in North America and the surrounding peaks. The lower part of the trail takes you up to a beautiful waterfall, and the top of the trail (3.6 miles) takes you up to meet the Tahoe Rim Trail. The vistas on the trail include the casino and South Shore area, Lake Tahoe, Mt. Tallac (pictured left in the background), and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains and forest.
Out of all the hikes listed in here, the Mt. Tallac hike would definitely be considered the most strenuous with its rating of difficult. With a 3,500 foot elevation change, this hike takes you from lake level to Lake Tahoe’s highest immediate peak at 9,735 feet. At a roundtrip distance of 10.2 miles, it is recommended to begin this hike during the early hours to avoid the mid-day and afternoon sun. This route takes you to the top via the most direct summer route through lush forest, along scenic ridgelines, past small alpine lakes and across blazingly colorful wildflower strewn high-altitude meadows. A challenging hike, for sure, but the reward of the views along the way and at the top are unparalleled and unforgettable.
A hike is a great way to take in some of the incredible views, foliage, and wildlife the Lake Tahoe area has to offer. Most hikes are appropriate for children, and most are pet-friendly as well. Let us help you book your South Lake Tahoe vacation rental and start creating your memories in the mountains today!