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.
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Route Description for Fallen Leaf Lake Trail
Exhibiting the grandeur and beauty of California’s high country, the Fallen Leaf Trail is a great option for your next expedition in South Tahoe. The exposed terrain along Fallen Leaf Lake's shoreline warrants sweeping views and extreme conditions. Check the forecast before your adventure, wear layers, and head out early to mitigate the chances of getting caught in an afternoon storm! Additionally, much of the path is rocky and uneven, so we suggest a pair of sturdy, ankle-protecting footwear. Note the Fallen Leaf Campground closes seasonally, so hikers will have to park off Fallen Leaf Lake Road and walk-in. Adventurers will also have to pay a parking fee which typically costs $10USD.
Overwhelm yourself with picture-perfect scenes along the Fallen Leaf Lake Trail. This wonderful hike through mixed-conifers and wildflowers, past waterfalls, and along the lakeshore is truly unlike no other. This immense alpine lake provides countless outdoor opportunities, from hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, and kayaking! Enjoy the dramatic landscape as you wander along the easy-going route, rejuvenating your tired feet in the chilly snowmelt waters along the way. Accessible year-round, we enjoy this hike most in autumn mornings when the crowds have thinned and the calm waters reflect the craggy granite summits. We love this trek, and you will too.
Setting out from the trailhead, take the leftmost trail signposted as the Fallen Leaf Lake Hike. From the north shore of the lake, you will be granted vistas of Agora Peak looming in the south across the waters. Notice adventurers exploring the chilly alpine waters as you begin your trek southeast. As you wander, there will be several intersecting and merging routes; ignore these and maintain on the rightmost path, which hugs the eastern shoreline of Fallen Leaf Lake. Enjoy the sparse shade of the looming pines and red firs as you hike along the water.
Marvel in the grandeur of Mount Tallac in the west and Glen Alpine Valley in the southwest. Heading south, the route will gradually pull away from the shoreline, climbing to the trail’s end. From here, you will be granted yet another great lookout over the lake. You may even see a scuba diver or mini-submarine studying the underwater forest if you are lucky. When you are through admiring the scene of the glittering lake and towering summits, begin your return. To get back to the trailhead, simply retrace your footing along the path back to your car.
Fallen Leaf Lake
Located in the High Sierra, the Fallen Leaf Lake is an alpine lake that sits at an elevation of 1,944 m in El Dorado County. Formed by at least two glaciers that made their way down the Glen Alpine Valley, this impressive lake is situated just south of Lake Tahoe. Fed by Glen Alpine Creek and high country snowmelt, the chilly alpine tributaries warrant crystal clear water conditions in the picturesque oval lake.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the Fallen Leaf Lake Trail?
The Fallen Leaf Lake Trail is a 5.8 km out-and-back lakeside hike.
Can you hike around Fallen Leaf Lake?
Yes, there are countless footpaths around the lake that can be enjoyed year-round.
Can you swim in Fallen Leaf Lake?
Yes, you can swim in Fallen Leaf Lake at your own risk.
Is there cell phone service at Fallen Leaf Lake?
Cell phone coverage is spotty at Fallen Leaf Lake.
Insider Hints for Fallen Leaf Lake Trail
- Pack a picnic and have lunch along the shoreline overlooking the picturesque scene
- Enjoy the route in the winter months with a pair of snowshoes!
- Pack plenty of water, much of the path is exposed to the elements
- Wear layers, the wind can unexpectedly pick up
- Your pup can join you on this trail!
Getting to the Fallen Leaf Lake Trail Trailhead
The Fallen Leaf Lake Trail departs from the trailhead in the southern end of the Fallen Leaf Campground off Fallen Leaf Road.
Fallen Leaf Lake Trail Elevation Graph
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Fallen Leaf Lake Trail Reviews
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