Hikes in Lake Tahoe
Craving an adventure? Lake Tahoe and the imposing High Sierra is one of California’s most popular outdoor adventure destinations. The collection of dramatic Sierra Nevada Mountains, evergreen forestlands, and picture-perfect alpine lakes make for some incredibly scenic hikes! Straddling the border between Nevada and California, this region attracts millions of visitors from all over, eager to explore the picturesque landscape. In addition to the snow-capped peaks and alpine lakes, the area is also characterized by the Tahoe National Forest, Eldorado National Forest, Lake Tahoe National Forest Basin, and the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest that preserve and encompass the pristine environment.
Whether you are seeking a technical ascent up the Sierra Nevada or a relaxing forest walk, Lake Tahoe offers a wide range of adventures! Wander through red firs, quaking aspens, meadowlands teeming with wildflowers, up granite bluffs, or to historic sites—the possibilities are endless! Delivering both high energy and easy-going experiences, there are hiking routes suitable for all skill levels and ages. Have we convinced you yet? A trip to Lake Tahoe is a must-add to your adventure itinerary—trust us.
15 Fantastic Hiking Routes in Lake Tahoe
As self-proclaimed adventure experts, we took it upon ourselves to curate a list of the 15 best hiking trails around Lake Tahoe. From taxing treks to easy-going nature walks and everything in between. We hope you enjoy these epic trails—Happy hiking! Check it out:
- Rubicon Trail - Not to be confused with the popular Rubicon off-roading route, the Rubicon Hike is a demanding trail that hugs the shoreline of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay. Immerse yourself in lush forestlands, wander along shoreline cliffs, and explore historic sites all while enjoying the picture-perfect panoramas of Lake Tahoe and the High Sierra.
- Eagle Rock Trail - Indulge yourself with overwhelming vistas of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range from Eagle Rock—a volcanic outcrop. This short, but scenic route can be enjoyed by the whole family.
- Cascade Falls Trail - Who doesn’t love a waterfall hike, right? Well, the Cascade Falls Trail offers a stunning snowmelt cascade as well as epic views of Lake Tahoe, Cascade Lake, and the encompassing snow-capped summits. Easy-going and family-friendly, what more could you ask for?
- Echo Lakes Trail - Hike to not one, but two shimmering alpine lakes along the Echo Lakes Trail. Get a taste of what the Pacific Crest Trail has to offer as you wander the famous backpacking route through the High Sierra.
- Eagle Lake Trail - The Eagle Lake Trail is another scenic high-country adventure that boasts incredible views of Lake Tahoe and the imposing snow-capped summits from a charming alpine lake. This family-friendly hike into a glacial basin is a must-add to your adventure to-do list.
- Fallen Leaf Lake Trail - Immerse yourself in the picture-perfect scene of Angora Peak looming above the lake on the Fallen Leaf Lake Trail. This relaxing nature walk meanders through woodlands and along the shoreline of the shimmering lake.
- Vikingsholm Trail - Head back in time as you hike the Vikingsholm Trail. This scenic nature walk delivers explorers to the historic Vikingsholm mansion that sits on the shoreline of Emerald Bay, overlooking the alpine landscape. Head out in the summer and get a tour of the castle!
- Mount Tallac Hike - Put your stamina to the test as you tackle the Mount Tallac Trail. This demanding hike travels up to the 2,968 m summit that boasts epic vistas of the dramatic Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and alpine lakes nestled amongst them.
- Tallac Historic Site Loop - History buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike will enjoy the Tallac Historic Site Loop. Explore the historic estates and meander through the woodlands and meadowlands that encompass the grounds. In the winter months, this route makes for a great snowshoeing or cross-country skiing trail!
- Incline Flume Trail - The Incline Flume Trail is a popular shared route on the northeastern rim of Lake Tahoe. Lined with red firs, Jeffery pines, and vibrant wildflowers, this scenic trail makes for a great day-hike. Insiders tip: the parking lot at the trailhead fills up fast, so arrive early!
- Lam Watah Nature Trail to Nevada Beach Hike - The Lam Watah Nature Trail to Nevada Beach Hike is a wonderful family-friendly nature walk near Stateline. Enjoy a hike through meadowlands and lush forestlands before the route opens to Lake Tahoe, boasting post-card perfect panoramas.
- Barn Trail to Cal Neva Loop - Weave between the state of California and Nevada as you hike the Barn Trail to Cal Neva Loop. This impressively scenic adventure climbs up one of the few hiking routes in the Heavenly Ski Resort—offering a unique perspective of the mountainous landscape.
- Lake Aloha Trail - Though not as tropical as it sounds, the Lake Aloha Hike is a wonderful alpine adventure. Wander past several charming alpine lakes before arriving at the piece de resistance—Aloha Lake’s blue-hued waters adorned with many, many islands.
- Whiskey Creek Camp Trail - The Whiskey Creek Camp Trail offers a diversity of scenery—wander through lush woodlands to the Five Lakes and the ruins of the Whiskey Creek Camp. This unique adventure is a must-do when in the Lake Tahoe area.
- Glen Alpine Trail - Hiking the Glen Alpine Trail is a scenic experience. Demanding a bit of stamina, this route climb past an alpine lake, a snow-melt cascade, and up to the historic landmark that is the Glen Alpine Springs Resort.
When is the Best Time to Visit Lake Tahoe?
The beauty of Lake Tahoe’s hiking routes is that most trails can be explored year-round with the proper gear! Most consider the summer months to be the best time to explore Lake Tahoe, but it is also the busiest time of the year! In the summer months, the high-altitude trails are mostly cleared of snow, the paths are teeming with wildflowers and the alpine water is refreshing! Summer excursions present awesome hiking, trekking, swimming, fishing, diving, and mountain biking opportunities—but be prepared for the crowds!
Winter expeditions to Lake Tahoe are equally as exciting and scenic. Most trails are transformed into epic snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, and even cross-country skiing routes. When exploring the area in the cooler months it is important to be mindful of increasingly dangerous terrain—often snow-cloaked and icy. Additionally, when venturing into the backcountry amongst the Sierra Nevadas, be aware of the threat of avalanches.
Open year-round, there is a sweet spot in the shoulder season when the trails are untouched, and the towns are quiet. Spring and fall adventures present the opportunity to enjoy the hiking routes in solitude, and accommodations in the area are usually cheaper. Note some campgrounds and roads close in the off-season, so your choice of stay may be limited!
Other Outdoor Activities near Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is more than just a hiking destination, though there is no denying that there are some pretty epic treks in the area! With miles of backcountry to explore, Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas offer an abundance of outdoor activities to satisfy all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts!
Consider mountain biking up Incline Flume Trail, cross country skiing the Tallac Historic Site Loop, or snowshoeing the Fallen Lake Leaf Trail. Additionally, other recreational activities include backpacking, fishing, sightseeing, swimming, paddle boarding, off-roading, diving, skiing, and boating. Abundant with life in the summer and winter months alike, the crowds that flock to Lake Tahoe are a testament to the area’s beauty and limitless adventure pursuits.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lake Tahoe
What is Lake Tahoe Known For?
Lake Tahoe is a famous lake that straddles the boundary between California and Nevada. Earning the title as the largest alpine lake in North America, and also one of the deepest lakes, the blue-hued pool imposed by the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is truly picture-perfect.
Where does Lake Tahoe get its water?
Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake mostly fed by snowmelt and rain from the 60 some tributaries that encircle the lake.
How deep is Lake Tahoe?
Lake Tahoe has a maximum depth of 501 m.
Can you hike around Lake Tahoe?
Yes, the famous backpacking route, the Tahoe Rim Trail, loops around the perimeter of Lake Tahoe.
Does Lake Tahoe freeze?
No, the main body of Lake Tahoe does not freeze. Sometimes, though rare, Emerald Bay will freeze.
Epic Adventure Tours in Lake Tahoe
Unfortunately, we have yet to curate a Lake Tahoe adventure package but keep an eye out as we are always working on adding more exciting tours to the collection! Until then, we urge you to check out the California and Hawaii Multisport Self-Drive Tour, which includes a trip to Lake Tahoe!
Find Other Amazing Hiking Regions in California
Best Hikes in Lake Tahoe
The Rubicon Trail is one of the most scenic adventures in California that connects two of the most beautiful state parks, D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay. Explore the shoreline of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, and marvel in the breathtaking panoramas of the snow-dusted Sierra Nevada Mountains. This epic excursion is a must-add to your adventure bucket list.
Eagle Rock Trail
Indulge yourself with overwhelming panoramas of Lake Tahoe from the Eagle Rock Trail. Then, ascend a family-friendly footpath up the volcanic outcrop, which sits at an elevation of 1,916 m above Tahoe Pines. The craggy bluff boasts arguably some of the best vistas of the shimmering lake and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains that bound the alpine waters.
Cascade Falls Trail
Immerse yourself in California’s high country along the Cascade Falls Trail. This scenic adventure travels through forestlands before opening to the Cascade Falls, which deliver sweeping panoramas of Cascade Lake, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Echo Lakes Trail
Hiking the Echo Lakes Trail is an immersive experience. Explore California’s high country and marvel in the sweeping alpine vistas along the way. Family-friendly and incredibly scenic, this lakeside route is at the top of many adventurers’ bucket lists, and we encourage you to add it to yours too.
Eagle Lake Trail
Explore all that California’s high country has to offer along the Eagle Lake Trail. This scenic High Sierra adventure boasts breathtaking panoramas of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and Lake Tahoe from the charming glacial basin. This easy-going excursion is a must-add to your Tahoe itinerary.
Fallen Leaf Lake Trail
The Fallen Leaf Lake Trail is a great addition to anyone’s South Tahoe adventure itinerary. Hike along the shores of the crystal-clear alpine lake and marvel in the panoramas of the bounding craggy peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Easy-going and impressively scenic, we can’t recommend this lovely trek enough.
History buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike will enjoy the Vikingsholm Trail. Wander through junipers, red firs, and pines down to the Vikingsholm Castle, a historic mansion from 1929 that sits along the shoreline of Emerald Bay. Short and scenic, this path is a must-add to your adventure itinerary.
Whiskey Creek Camp Trail
Explore California’s alpine terrain along the Whiskey Creek Camp Trail. This stunning adventure boasts breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range as you wander up to the Five Lakes and the ruins of the Whiskey Creek Camp. This trek is a must-add to your hiking itinerary.
Mount Tallac Hike
Hiking the Mount Tallac Trail is a technical trek that boasts breathtaking vistas of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and the alpine lakes that adorn the glacial basins. A commanding landmark along the shores of Lake Tahoe, Mount Tallac offers countless adventure opportunities, attracting thousands of intrepid explorers year-round. If you are seeking a challenging hike, then the Mount Tallac Trail is an excellent option.
Tallac Historic Site Loop
Discover the history of South Lake Tahoe along the Tallac Historic Site Loop. The easy-going loop trail is a wonderful adventure boasting breathtaking panoramas of the shimmering alpine lake bounded by the Sierra Nevada’s from the historic estates. Open year-round, accessible and scenic, this route is worth adding to your adventure itinerary.
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