10 Best Hikes in Lake Tahoe You Can’t-Miss

10 Best Hikes in Lake Tahoe You Can’t-Miss

There are lots of things to do in Lake Tahoe, but hiking in Lake Tahoe is one of the best and inexpensive way to explore the terrain surrounding the lake. The area has a variety of hikes of different lengths and levels.

Although, South Lake Tahoe is the main area where you find some of the best hikes in Lake Tahoe, there are plenty of scenic hiking trails in North Lake Tahoe too.

So, why are you still waiting? Leave the road and all the hustle and bustle behind; here is our list of 10 best Lake Tahoe hikes awaiting your first step.

Before going to the main content, you can also check our top 15 best and cheap hiking boots which are a must for any hike. This buying guide will help you to make a decision easier to choose the right hiking boot for yours.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay any extra penny, but I’ll get a small commission that encourages me to deliver more helpful content for you.

#1 Rubicon Trail: Best Hikes in Lake Tahoe

Rubicon Trail allows you to hike along the shoreline of picturesque Lake Tahoe. It is a long hike but comparatively easy and offers breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, the distant mountains, and the shallow bays.

Rubicon trail is very easy to access. It covers a lot of terrain including the Emerald Bay and the Vikingsholm Castle. This historic Scandinavian mansion is a spectacular building and the interior design is pretty impressive.

Most people consider the hike from D.L Bliss to Vikingsholm, but if you want to complete the hike from point to point then continue to Eagle Point campground and enjoy the more gorgeous beauty of the trail.

Dogs are not allowed in this trail.

  • Fee: $10 per vehicle to enter the D. L. Bliss State Park
  • Elevation: 1400 feet
  • Distance: 11 miles(round trip)
  • Difficulty: Easy
hikes in lake tahoe | Rubicon Trail
Rubicon Trail: PC: Flickr

#2 Mount Tallac Trail

Mount Tallac Trail is one of the most famous summer hikes in South Lake Tahoe. The trailhead is located on Highway 89 between Camp Richardson and Emerald Bay. Keep in mind that the second half of the trail has no shade.

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The summit point is at 3,500 feet above sea level from where hikers can get a brilliant unparalleled view. You will enjoy the stunning views all along this trail. You can see Fallen Leaf Lake, Floating Island Lake, Cathedral Lake, the Carson Range, and the entire South Shore of Lake Tahoe during your journey to the peak.

It is a dog-friendly hike in the Lake Tahoe area but your dogs must be under leash. There is plenty of free parking available at the trailhead.

Tip: Remember to collect the free Desolaton Wilderness permit at trailhead.

  • Elevation: 3500 feet
  • Distance: 10 miles(round trip), 6-7 hours.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Mount Tallac Trail | Hiking trails in Lake Tahoe
Mount Tallac Trail – PC: Flickr

#3 Mount Rose Trail

Located at 10,776 feet, Mount Rose is the second highest peak in the Lake Tahoe area after Mount Tallac. The trailhead is located at the highest year-round pass in the country on Highway 431.

You can see snow even in July due to the high elevation. However, in late July or early August when you meander through the forest and meadows, you will see wildflowers all around around the Galena Falls and Galena Creek area.

The top of the Mount Rose trail offers mesmerizing views of Reno and Sparks, the Tahoe Basin, Carson City, and the Boca and Stampede reservoirs. On a clear day, you may even get a glimpse of Mount Shasta far to the northwest.

  • Elevation: 2500 feet
  • Distance: 10 miles(round trip), 2 hours.
  • Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Mount Rose Trail
Mount Rose Trail

#4 Winnemucca Lake Trail: South Lake Tahoe Trail

This is another short South Lake Tahoe hike that has diverse terrain. The trailhead starts from the Carson Pass on Highway 88 and passes through the forest from little Frog Lake, to Round Top Lake to Winnemucca Lake.

The main highlight of Winnemucca Trail is its incredible summer wildflower display which is renowned globally. You will get to see different species of Sierra Nevada wildflowers and can enjoy here a romantic California getaway.

Hikers can locate Elephants Back, Round Top, The Sisters, Caples Lake, Little Round Top, Red Lake Peak, and Freel Peak from various aspects. This is a popular family-friendly hike in Lake Tahoe where your dogs are also welcome under leash.

Paid parking is there at the Carson Pass Information Station.

  • Elevation: 2300 feet
  • Distance: 6.5 miles(round trip), 3 hours.
  • Difficulty: Easy
Best hikes in South Lake Tahoe |  Wildflowers in Winnemucca Lake Trail
Wildflowers in Winnemucca Lake Trail – PC: Flickr

#5 Skyline Trail

Skyline Trail is a perfect Lake Tahoe hiking trail for people who want to hike in the higher region without actually having to hike on a steep incline. A chairlift of Heavenly’s Gondola will take you to the trailhead. From there it is just a 2-mile hike with expansive views of Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful lakes in California.

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Heavenly Ski Resort itself is a popular ski resort in California for its ski slopes and breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and mountains on the backdrop. Once you reach the top of the trail, you’ll be able to see sweeping views of both Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley.

  • Distance: 2 miles(round trip)
  • Difficulty: Easy
10 Best Hikes in Lake Tahoe You Can't-Miss
Skyline Trail

#6 Cascade Falls Trail

It is a short day hike near Lake Tahoe that starts from Emerald Bay and ends at lively Cascade Falls. You won’t find here much elevation gain which is perfect for families and kids.

The trail is rocky, so sturdy hiking boots are highly recommended. At the end of the trail, you can enjoy a picnic lunch sitting on the rock or just enjoy the jaw-dropping beauty of Cascade Lake.

Spring is the best time to visit Cascade Falls when it gets maximum water. The waterfall is about 200 feet long and the surrounding granite rock outcroppings are very spectacular.

Being it a popular hiking trail in Lake Tahoe, parking gets quickly filled in peak months. Try to reach early to reserve a parking spot.

  • Elevation: 236 feet
  • Distance: 1.4 mile(round trip)
  • Difficulty: Easy-moderate
Rocky Cascade Falls Trail
Rocky Cascade Falls Trail

#7 Fallen Leaf Lake Hike

It is a 9.5-mile loop that is popular year-round for its scenic trail and gorgeous lake view. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best dog-friendly hikes in South Lake Tahoe.

The trail is very easy and family-friendly. The trailhead starts from the Fallen Leave Campground, a popular southern California campground. The clear water of the lake and the surrounding snow-capped mountains offer a perfect setting for a picnic or a serene ambiance to enjoy a peaceful afternoon.

If you plan to visit in the spring, numerous wildflowers will welcome you and in the fall season, you’ll get to see the beautiful aspens along Taylor Creek. You can continue your hike along the shore else return back after seeing the lake.

  • Elevation: 3500 feet
  • Distance: 9.5 miles(round trip), 7 hours.
  • Difficulty: Moderate-hard
Fallen Leaf Lake Hike
Fallen Leaf Lake Hike

#8 Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake Hike

Probably it is the busiest hiking trail on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe. Eagle Lake hike starts from Eagle Falls which is just a small walking distance from highway 89. It is a very short hike but the initial part of the trail is quite steep and rocky.

From the Eagle Falls trailhead collect your permit to enter the Desolation Wilderness. While passing through the forest, you will see some stunning views of Emerald Bay. This glacier-formed lake is surrounded by the majestic mountains, which reflect in the calm waters of the lake. The water is transparent, and the shoreline is a bit shallow.

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Getting a parking space is a matter of luck. It is one of the most popular and busiest hikes in Tahoe, but the parking is limited. Try to reach within 9 am to get a parking spot.

  • Elevation: 400 feet
  • Distance: 2.5 miles(round trip)
  • Difficulty: Easy-moderate
Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake Hike
Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake Hike

#9 Glen Alpine Trail to Lake Aloha

The hike begins at Glen Alpine trailhead located at the end of Fallen Leaf Road. There are many different hiking trails that start from this trailhead. You can hike to Grass Lake for a short 2-mile walk. If you’re looking for a long day hike or an overnight backpacking trip, a hike to Lake Aloha could be your ideal choice.

The small islands, clear blue alpine lake, and surrounding mountains create the best setting to cherish the natural scenic views. The first half of the Glen Alpine Trail is along the narrow old roadbed leading to Glen Alpine Spring Resort. You can end at Grass Lake or extend the hike to Aloha Lake or even up to Tallac.

The trail is rocky and has some good gains. It is a dog-friendly hike, but your dogs must be on leash.

  • Elevation: 692 feet
  • Distance: 12 miles(round trip)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
best hiking trails in south lake tahoe |  Glen Alpine Falls
Glen Alpine Falls

#10 Spooner Lake Loop Trail

This is a short day hike in Lake Tahoe that ends at Spooner Lake, a manmade lake on the Nevada side. If you have less time and want to spend time with family with a lovely nature walk around the lake, go for the Spooner Loop Trail.

Many infographics and informational signs along the trail make this a popular educational hike. There is an abundance of wildflowers and waterfowl in the spring season. From the parking lot, simply follow the navigation to Spooner Lake. Once you reach the lake, the trail will be pretty easy and self-explanatory.

The elevation gain is very little and there are plenty of benches to sit and relax. Altogether, Spooner Lake Trail is a perfect family-friendly and kid-friendly hike around Lake Tahoe.

The Spooner Lake parking lot is located off Highway 28. You have to pay a nominal fee to enter the parking lot.

  • Elevation: 200 feet 
  • Distance: 2.7 miles(round trip)
  • Difficulty: Easy
Spooner Lake Loop Trail
Spooner Lake Loop Trail

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