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10 Fantastic Winter Hikes in Lake Tahoe

Updated: Apr 21

Discover some of the best winter hikes in Lake Tahoe!

The Best Winter Hikes in Lake Tahoe

Looking for winter hiking trails in Lake Tahoe? You're in the right place. Many of Lake Tahoe’s trails are accessible year-round.


Depending on the seasonal variations and the level of snowfall, some winter hikes in Lake Tahoe require snowshoes, while others just warm layers and sturdy hiking boots. Here are 10 fantastic trails to explore in Lake Tahoe in the winter.


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1. Monkey Rock

Monkey Rock hike in lake tahoe

Monkey Rock on the Flume Trail
Monkey Rock on the Flume Trail

Monkey Rock along the Flume Trail is a great hike to do in Lake Tahoe in the winter.  The trail to Monkey Rock is 2.6 miles out and back and features sweeping views of North Lake Tahoe and Incline Village, which are especially beautiful when covered in snow.  The trailhead to Monkey Rock starts behind Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village.

 

2. Chickadee Ridge

Chickadee Ridge Hike in Lake Tahoe

Chickadee Ridge Hike in Lake Tahoe
Chickadee birds along the trail

One of the best winter hikes in Lake Tahoe is Chickadee Ridge.  A popular spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, the hike starts at Tahoe Meadows, just north of Incline Village.  It doesn't take long to reach the ridge, which has gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe. 


The trail to Chickadee Ridge features tons of pine trees, which look magical when covered in snow.  What also makes this hike special is the abundance of friendly Chickadee Birds along the trail. 

 

3. Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock Hike in Lake Tahoe
Sunset at Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock is a 0.7-mile, out-and-back hike near Homewood, California. The short hike offers panoramic views of the northwest side of Lake Tahoe and features volcanic rock formations at the top of the trail.  The trailhead to Eagle Rock is off HWY 89 just west of Tahoe City and north of Homewood.

 

4. East Shore Trail

The east shore in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe's east shore
Whale Beach in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe's rugged east shore is home to some of the most pristine and turquoise-colored water in Lake Tahoe. The East Shore Trail, accessible via Route 28, is a series of trails that take you right along the water between Chimney Beach and Whale Beach.

 

5. Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon in Truckee California

Johnston Canyon in Truckee California

Johnson Canyon Overlook in Tahoe Donner feels like a completely different hike in the winter vs the summer. This area gets tons of snow, making it one of the best winter hikes in Truckee. It only takes about 1 mile to reach the ridge from the trailhead, which offers gorgeous panoramic views of Johnson Canyon and the surrounding area.


In the winter, you will likely need snowshoes for this hike (depending on snow levels). The trail starts at the Glacier Way Trailhead off Skislope Way in Tahoe Donner.

 

6. Stateline Fire Lookout

Historic Stateline Fire Lookout HIke

Historic Stateline Fire Lookout HIke

Historic Stateline Fire Lookout near Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe is a 1.8-mile loop hike that offers fantastic views of Crystal Bay and the north shore.  The hike gets its name from an old fire lookout tower built in the 1930s. 

 

7. China Cove Loop

Donner Memorial State Park
China Cove Loop after a snowstorm

Donner Memorial State Park

The China Cove trail is a super easy, flat 3-mile trail that loops through Donner Memorial State Park in Truckee, CA, and it’s especially magical in the winter after a big snowstorm when the towering pines are covered in snow.   The trail is often groomed making it a fantastic spot for snowshoeing and XC skiing.

 

8. Cave Rock

Cave Rock Hike in Lake Tahoe

Cave Rock HIke in Lake Tahoe

Located on Hwy 50 near South Lake Tahoe, the Cave Rock hike is short, easy, and leads to gorgeous 180-degree winter views of Lake Tahoe.  Starting from the parking lot, the hike takes about 12 minutes to get to the base of Cave Rock.  And then a short scramble to reach the top viewpoint.

 

9. Vikingsholm

Emerald Bay State park in Lake Tahoe
Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State park in Lake Tahoe

Access the bottom of Emerald Bay via the Vikingsholm Trail, a 1.8-mile out-and-back hike that starts from the top of Emerald Bay State Park.  The views from both the top and bottom of Emerald Bay are magical in the winter. Depending on the amount of snow, the Vikingsholm trail is also a great snowshoe hike. 


Once at the base, there's much to explore, including Lower Eagle Falls, the Emerald Bay Pier, and the Vikingsholm Castle.

 

10. Fallen Leaf Lake

Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe

Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe

Located near South Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake is a beautiful alpine lake with magnificent views of snow-capped Mt. Tallac in the background. The short hike leading to Fallen Leaf Lake is more of a pleasant walk. Several trails lead to the lake, but the main trailhead is near Fallen Leaf Lake Campground.

 

One thing to note:

Packed snow is usually okay to hike on, especially with snowshoes, but ice is a different story. Some of the trails in Lake Tahoe can be icy, depending on the yearly conditions. Crampons and polls can help, but I usually avoid icy trails altogether. I have found Eagle Lake, Maggies Peak, Mt Tallack, and most of the trails in Tahoe's Desolation Wilderness to be particularly icy in the winter.


I hope you enjoyed my Guide on Winter Hikes in Lake Tahoe!  

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Hi, I'm Gabriella, an outdoor photographer living in Lake Tahoe, California. 
 
I'm originally from New York and moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to try out living somewhere new and different.  I found myself loving the adventurous lifestyle and dramatic scenery on the west side of the country.  Eventually, I moved to Lake Tahoe in 2019 after falling in love with its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle. 
 
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