Hiking trails

Below you will find a list of hikes and descriptions. For even more information on hikes in the area, including maps, visit the USDA Forest Service.

 

 

 

Bayview Trail

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Strenuous

Trailhead: Take Hwy 89 South from Tahoe City approximately 20 miles to the Bayview Campground across from Inspiration Point. Parking is located at the far end of the campground. Wilderness permit required.

Description: This steep trail takes you up the side of Maggie’s Peak into the Desolation Wilderness. 1 mile to Granite Lake, 2.7 miles to an intersection with the Eagle Falls Trail. 4 Miles to Azure Lake and 5 miles to Dick’s Lake. Corral and watering facilities for horses are available at the trailhead.

 

Cascade Creek Fall Trail

Distance: 1

Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead: Take Hwy 89 South from Tahoe City approximately 20 miles to the Bayview Campground across from Inspiration Point. Parking is located at the far end of the campground. Wilderness permit required.

Description: This short trail affords stunning views of the 200 foot high falls and Cascade Lake. Best time of year is springtime, when runoff from snowmelt is high.

 

Eagle Falls Trail

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Trailhead: Take Hwy 89 South from Tahoe City approximately 16 miles to the Eagle Falls Picnic area on the right. Wilderness permit required.

Description: This steep trail leads back into the heart of Desolation Wilderness, passing by several lakes along the way. Eagle Lake is only 1 mile and a popular destination for day-hikers looking to picnic lunch or take a swim. 4.5 miles to Dicks Lake, Upper and Middle Velmas; 5 miles to Fontanillas.

 

High Camp at Squaw Valley

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Easy and Moderate

Trailhead: Take the Cable Car tram up to High Camp from the base of Squaw Valley.

Description: There are six individual trails out of High Camp ranging from easy to strenuous, 1 to 4 miles. Dogs are allowed on the Cable Car and are welcome on all trails. All trails offer stunning views of the Lake and surrounding Squaw Valley, and High Camp has dining and shopping facilities.

High Camp Loop is an easy 1 mile loop up to the top of Links chairlift and down through the gentle upper bowls. The 1 mile trail up to Gold Coast chair is slightly more challenging, but the views of the Lake from the top are worth it. The trail continues past Gold Coast to the top of the Newport Lift for a 1.5 mile hike. Follow the trail past Gold Coast to the top of the Palisades for a strenuous 2.2 mile hike. A steep 1.5 mile hike from high camp to the top of Emigrant Chairlift offers 360 degree views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. See descriptions of the ShirleyCanyon hike for the last and longest of these trails.

 

Five Lakes

Distance: 5

Difficulty: Moderate

Trailhead: Five Lakes can be accessed via Barker Pass or the Five Lakes Trailhead. To get to Barker Pass, take 89 South from Tahoe City 4.2 miles to the Caspian Picnic Area. Turn right on Blackwood Canyon Rd. and continue 7.1 miles to Barker Pass, where the pavement ends. The trailhead is 2.3 miles after that.

The Five Lakes trailhead is located about 2 miles down the Alpine Meadows access road, on the right hand side. Look for a small sign just off the road.

Description: From Barker Pass, follow the Powderhorn Trail 4 miles to Diamond Crossing where the Five Lakes Creek Trail begins. The trail winds alongside and across Five Lakes Creek until reaching Whiskey Creek, with several intersecting trails and detours along the way. Alternately, from the Five Lakes Trailhead, follow a well-manicured trail up through the valley between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The five serene lakes are open to fishing and swimming. Camping is not allowed within 600 feet of the lakes.

 

Glacier Meadow Loop

Distance: 0.5

Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead: Take Hwy 80 West from Truckee to the Castle Peak/Boreal Ridge Road exit. Follow signs to the Tahoe National Forest Trailhead.

Description: This is a short, self-guided nature loop offering a half-hour walk with informational signs along the way that explain how glacial action carved and polished the surface landscape.

 

Marlette Lake

Distance: 5

Difficulty: Moderate

Trailhead: Take Hwy 28 to just Northwest of the Hwy 50 junction and park at the Spooner Lake Trailhead, located in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. There is a parking fee.

Description: This uphill hike leads you through the aspen-lined North Canyon to Marlette Lake Dam. Marlette Lake is a fishing hatchery, therefore no fishing is allowed. Dogs are allowed only on leash.

 

Martis Creek/ Tompkins Memorial Trail

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Moderate

Trailhead: From Kings Beach take Rte 267 past Northstar until you see a small brown sign on the right reading “Martis Creek Wildlife Area.” Take a right here and park at the lot at the end of the dirt road.

Description: There are 14.6 miles of trails here and maps throughout the park. Trails run along a beautiful creek and are great for dogs. Hiking options range from 40 minutes to half-day and picnic tables are scattered along the trails. Call the Martis Ranger Station for more details. (530) 587-8113.

 

Meeks Bay Trail

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Moderate

Trailhead: Take Hwy 89 South from Tahoe City about 11 miles to the Meeks Bay Resort. Park in a small lot across the highway from the resort. A wilderness permit is required.

Description: After following a road for approximately 1.3 miles, the trail passes a small spring, parallels Meeks Creek and continues upward into a forested valley. A chain of alpine lakes can be seen before the trail ascends 1,000 feet up a series of switchbacks leading to Phipps Pass. Trail is 4.5 miles to Lake Genevieve, 5 to Crag, 5.7 to Hidden, 5.9 to Shadow, 6.3 miles to Stony Ridge, and 8 miles to Rubicon. This hike is part of an unofficial Tahoe-Yosemite Trail.

 

Mt. Rose

Distance: 6

Difficulty: Strenuous

Trailhead: Take Hwy 431 (Mt. Rose Hwy) north from Incline Village. Park at the trailhead one mile before (south of) the summit.

Description: Mt. Rose is one of the highest peaks near Lake Tahoe and offers spectacular views of the Lake, Reno and the Tahoe basin. Follow a dirt road for 3 miles through a forest full of Lodgepole, mule ears and sagebrush. A meadow at the halfway point bears lupine, paintbrush and larkspur. The last two miles follow slippery switchbacks to the ridge line. Don’t forget to sign the log book when you make it to the top.

 

Northstar-at-Tahoe (tm) Resort Scenic Gondola and Chairlift Rides

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Varying

Trailhead: Start at the Village and take the chairlift to mid-mountain or the top of the mountain.

Description: Northstar-at-Tahoe (tm) Resort invites you to discover the Sierra flora and fauna of the popular resort on foot. Enjoy a $5.00 lift ride up the mountain before your hike down or enjoy a scenic picnic and take the lift back down.

 

Pacific Crest Trail / Mt. Judah Loop Trail

Distance: 4.6 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Trailhead: Access off the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) off of Old Highway 40 (east of Donner Ski Ranch). Turn onto the road before Alpine Skills Institute and head south on the PCT. This 4.6 mile loop offers many excellent vista points on the way including awe-inspiring views from the summit of Mt. Judah. There is a section of the loop that connects with the Pacific Crest Trail. Pack plenty of water.

 

Page Meadows

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead: Take Hwy 89 South from Tahoe City approximately two miles and turn right on Pineland Drive. Turn right on Forest Service Road to get to the area.

Description: There are no designated trails in this expansive meadow area. Great for dogs. Some amazing views of the Lake.

 

Prey Meadow/Skunk Harbor

Distance: 1.5

Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead: Take Hwy 28 South along the East Shore and look for an iron gate on the lake side of the road, about 2 miles north of the Hwy 50 turnoff. Park in one of the turnouts along the highway and do not block the gate.

Description: This is a great, easy walk through a mixed conifer forest with views of the Lake along the way. Look for the remains of an 1870’s railroad grade that was once built to supply timber to Virginia. At the fork in the road, bear left towards wildflower-laden Prey Meadows or right to a small, picturesque swimming cove called Skunk Harbor.

 

Rubicon Trail

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Moderate

Trailhead: Take Hwy 89 South from Tahoe City approximately 16 miles to D.L. Bliss State Park. There is a fee for day parking.

Description: This trail meanders up and down along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe, offering spectacular views of the Lake. Many coves along the way offer secluded spots to swim or picnic. Dogs are not allowed. Trail is 4.5 miles to Emerald Point, or 6.5 miles to the end of the trail extension that passes Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay.

 

Shirley Canyon

Distance: 4

Difficulty: Moderate

Trailhead: From the Squaw Valley parking lot, walk down Squaw Peak Road and find the trailhead on the left as the road curves to the right.

Description: Follow blue blazes and Shirley Creek up over boulders and past scenic waterfalls 2.5 miles to Shirley Lake. From here you can either turn around and come back down or keep climbing to High Camp, where you (and your dog) can take the Cable Car tram down for free.

 

Stateline Lookout

Distance: 0.5

Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead: Take Hwy 28 North from Tahoe City and turn left on Reservoir Drive, just past the Tahoe Biltmore Casino. Turn right on Lakeshore Avenue, then left on Forest Service Road 1601 (by the iron pipe gate). Park in the lot just below the lookout.

Description: During the summer the lookout is staffed with knowledgeable volunteers. Superb views of the Lake can be seen through the free telescopes. A short, self-guided nature trail explains the history of the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.

 

Sugar Pine Point State Park

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Easy to Strenuous

Trailhead: Take Hwy 89 South from Tahoe city approximately 10 miles to Tahoma and look for signs for Sugar Pine Point State Park. There is a parking fee.

Description: Trails serve almost every part of the park. The Dolder Trail is a 0.7 loop trail through the Z'Berg Natural Preserve and follows the lakeshore, passing the world's highest working lighthouse. For those with more time, the General Creek Trail is a 6.5 mile loop, offering an optional side trip to Lily Pond. Lost Lake, a beautiful alpine lake, is a full 15 mile round trip, and should only be tackled by seasoned hikers with ample time (6 to 7 hours).

While you’re there, don’t miss a tour of the historic Ehrman Mansion. Dogs are not permitted on park trails.

Those wishing to enter Desolation Wilderness through the park will need to obtain a wilderness permit from the U.S. Forest Service for both day-use and overnight trips. Permits are available at the South Lake Tahoe Forest Service Headquarters, the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, or (when staffed) the William Kent Campground. Day-use permits are available at most Forest Service trailheads.

 

Tahoe Rim Trail

Distance: Varying

Difficulty: Varying

Trailhead: There are 5 North Lake Tahoe trailheads to the TRT.

Tahoe Meadows: Take Hwy 431 (Mt. Rose Hwy) North from Incline almost to the summit.

Brockway: Take Hwy 267 North from Kings Beach to approx. 0.5 miles south of the Summit.

Mt. Rose: Take Hwy 431 North from Incline to the summit. Trailhead is on north side of the highway.

Ward Creek Boulevard: Take Hwy 89 South from Tahoe City approx 2.5 miles and turn right onto Ward Canyon Boulevard. Follow this road another 2.5 miles until you see a small TRT kiosk.

Barker Pass: Take Hwy 89 South from Tahoe City approx 4 miles and turn right onto Blackwood Canyon Rd. at Kaspian Campground. Follow the road 7.5 miles to the trailhead.

Description: The TRT is a 165 mile loop around the Lake Tahoe basin with 5 trailheads in the North Lake Tahoe area. The whole trail is open to hiking, horseback riding and skiing, while mountain biking is permitted in sections. The best times to hike the TRT are mid-July for wildflowers and early fall for foliage. All sections of the trail offer amazing views of the Lake. See TRT Association website for complete details on day and overnight hikes.

From North Shore trailheads: For an easy flat hike, access the TRT at the Tahoe Meadows trailhead and follow the Interpretive Loop 1.2 miles roundtrip. For a moderate 5-6 mile roundtrip hike, take the Mt. Rose Loop trail from the Mt. Rose trailhead. For a strenuous 13.4 mile loop get on the TRT at the Brockway trailhead and follow the trail to Watson Lake and back. You can also park a car at Watson Lake to shorten the hike.

From West Shore trailheads: Ward Canyon to Page Meadows is an easy 1.4 mile roundtrip that starts at the Ward Creek Boulevard Trailhead. Barker North to Vista Point is a moderate 3.5 mile roundtrip hike offering views of the lake.

 

Tahoe XC Trails, Tahoe City

The Tahoe XC summer hiking and biking trails have something for every type of runner, rider, or hiker. Tahoe XC now provides trailhead services such as full suspension and fron suspension bike reantal, great food from the Free Heel Cafe, and whatever supplies you might need as you head out on the trails. Come on out and play in the woods.
 

Vikingsholm Castle

Distance: 1

Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead: Take Hwy 89 South along the West Shore approximately 20 miles and park in the lot on the left.

Description: This popular trail offers spectacular views of Emerald Bay and Fanette Island from the shoreline. Daily tours are given of the authentic replica of a Viking Castle mid-June through Labor Day. There is a nominal fee. Directly across from the castle is a short hike to lower Eagle Falls.

 

Western States Trail

Distance: 10

Difficulty: Strenuous

Trailhead: Take 89 South from Tahoe City down the West Shore to the Caspian Picnic area. Take a right on Blackwood Canyon Road and follow it 7.1 miles to Barker Pass, where the pavement ends. Powderhorn trailhead is 2.3 miles past here.

Description: This trail is located within the Granite Chief wilderness. Follow directions to the Five Lakes trail from the Powderhorn trailhead. The Western States Trail begins on the west side of Whiskey Creek and climbs steadily for 3 miles to the Sierra Crest. The trail then drops along switchbacks into Picayune Valley and follows Picayune Creek down to the middle fork of the American River. From here, the trail crosses the river and makes a gradual descent through French meadows to Talbot Campground.