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.
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Route Description for Vikingsholm Trail
Immerse yourself in the Sierra Nevada along the Vikingsholm Hike. This epic excursion offers picturesque panoramas of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, and the bounding craggy mountains. Earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, the Vikingsholm Mansion is a popular tourist destination in South Tahoe, so expect to share the path. For a more isolated experience, head out in the early morning to beat the crowds and secure a spot in the small parking lot at the trailhead. Note the path down to the castle is steep, so mind your footing and take your time—especially those will small children! The Emerald Bay State Park charges an entrance fee; refer to the park’s website for additional information.
Travel back in time as you explore the grounds of the historic Vikingsholm Mansion. This route is ideal for those seeking a quick trek to stretch their legs, a perfect escape into the fresh air. Short, sweet, and steep, you will be distracted from your tired legs by the lush vegetation and beautiful scenes of California’s high country. You will be granted sweeping vistas of Emerald Bay, Fannette Island, Lake Tahoe, and the impressive snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range from the historic castle. Though this versatile trek is accessible year-round, we prefer heading out in the summer—though busy; you will have the opportunity to head inside and tour the famous mansion for a nominal fee!
Setting out from the trailhead off Emerald Bay Road, the Vikingsholm Trail heads east along the shoreline cliffs along the well-signposted path lined with towering pines, red firs, and quaking aspens. Not long after your departure from the trailhead, the path will redirect you southwest, granting views of Emerald Bay below. Eventually, you will reach an intersection, then continue heading south along the Rubicon-Emerald Bay Trail. Now nearing the shoreline, you will be lulled into a state of relaxation from the sounds of the crashing waves. You will ultimately reach the famous Vikingsholm Trail.
Explore the grounds of the historic castles, and in the summer, we encourage you to take a tour of the impressive 38-room mansion. After discovering the history of the Scandinavian structure, head over to the beach, and if you have your suit, take a dip in the shimmering alpine waters. Marvel in the scene of the lake bounded by the dramatic summits of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Hopefully, you reserved some energy because to get back to the trailhead; you are going to have to ascend the route you took to get down to the shoreline. Retrace your footing along the path back to the carpark, ending your historic hike.
The Vikingsholm Castle is a historical monument that sits along the shoreline of Emerald Bay in the southwest of Lake Tahoe. The 38-room mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built-in 1929, the structure was built for Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight as a summer house overlooking the shimmering lake. Drawing inspiration from Scandinavian architecture, parts of the structure contain no nails or spikes—and were built from local materials. Now a museum, this intricate mansion is worth the detour.
Frequently Asked Questions
How hard is the Vikingsholm Trail?
The Vikingsholm Trail is a moderate hike, with about a 122 m elevation change.
How long is the Vikingsholm Trail?
The Vikingsholm Trail is a 2.7 km out-and-back hike in the Emerald Bay State Park.
Can you tour Vikingsholm?
Yes, there are seasonal, paid tours that operate seven days a week from Memorial Day until the end of September.
Insider Hints for Vikingsholm Trail
- The parking lot fills up fast, so arrive early to secure a spot
- In the winter months, microspikes or snowshoes are necessary to navigate the icy, vertiginous terrain
- Head out in the summer and enjoy a tour of the historic mansion
- Charge your camera, the stunning scenes warrant countless photo opportunities
Getting to the Vikingsholm Trail Trailhead
The Vikingsholm Trail departs from the Vikingsholm Trailhead off Emerald Bay Road/Highway 89.
Vikingsholm Trail Elevation Graph
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Vikingsholm Trail Reviews
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