13 Spectacular Hikes in Lake Tahoe - A Tahoe Transplant's Guide
Updated: Apr 19
One of the best things about Lake Tahoe is the number of fantastic hiking trails available at your fingertips. Whether you prefer an easy day hike or a more challenging off-the-beaten-path trail, you won't be short on hiking options with jaw-dropping scenery in Lake Tahoe.
After living in Lake Tahoe for two years, I've had the opportunity to explore quite a few trails around Tahoe. And of course, there are still so many hikes that I haven't gotten to yet.
In this post, I'm sharing 13 of the best hikes in Lake Tahoe. The hikes are listed clockwise from east to west. And don’t worry! You don’t need to be an advanced hiker to enjoy most if not all of the hikes on this list!
* When visiting Lake Tahoe, help keep it beautiful by practicing the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.
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1. Cave Rock
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I've mentioned Cave Rock before. And that's because it's one of my go-to hikes in South Lake Tahoe.
Located on Hwy 50, the Cave Rock hike is short, easy, and leads to gorgeous 180-degree views over Lake Tahoe. Starting from the parking lot, the hike takes about 12 minutes or so to get to the base of Cave Rock. And then a short scramble to reach the top viewpoint.
For more on the Cave Rock hike, check out this video!
2. Castle Rock
Castle Rock is a short hike with rewarding views overlooking South Lake Tahoe and the west shore. The trail is located near Kingsbury Grade and is also a popular spot for rock climbing! You don't need to scale Castle Rock to enjoy the views, but do expect to do a little bit of rock scrambling towards the end. The Castle Rock trail also connects to the famous 165-miles long Tahoe Rim Trail.
3. Fallen Leaf Lake
Located near South Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake is a beautiful alpine lake with magnificent views of 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.
4. Cascade Falls
The trail to Cascade Falls is located in the back of the Bayview Campground, which is right across the street from Inspiration Point on HWY 89. The hike is only 1.5 miles round trip, but you will be climbing quite a few sets of stone-cut stairs, and there is very little shade. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes, don't forget the sunscreen, and bring plenty of water. Along with the falls, the trail offers beautiful views of Cascade Lake.
5. Maggies Peak
Maggie Peak is one of the longer trails on this list and rated as moderate to difficult. The hike is 4.1 miles out and back. Like Cascade Falls, the trail to Maggies Peak starts at the back of Bayview Campground. Instead of going left towards Cascade Falls, you head right towards Desolation Wilderness.
Along the way, you’ll pass Granite Lake (a great place to take a break) before hiking up a set of switchbacks. There's also some light rock-scrambling involved before reaching the peak. Once at the top, you’ll get to enjoy beautiful views overlooking Lake Tahoe, Granite Lake, and Cascade Lake.
6. Vikingsholm Trail
The Vikingsholm Trail is a 1.7 mile out and back trail located right in Emerald Bay State Park. After taking in the views from the Emerald Bay Scenic Overlook, you can pick up the Vikingsholm Trail which leads to the bottom of Emerald Bay.
Once at the bottom, you can check out the Vikingsholm Castle, rent a paddleboard or kayak with Kayak Tahoe (in the summer), pick up the Rubicon Trail, or hike to Lower Eagle Falls.
7. Lower Eagle Falls
The trail to Lower Eagle Falls is located in Emerald Bay State Park and is accessible via the Vikingsholm Trail. Once you hike to the bottom of the Vikingsholm Trail, head right towards the Visitor's Center. This is where you can pick up the trail to Lower Eagle Falls. From here, it's a little under half a mile to reach the falls. May and June are the best months to visit Lower Eagle Falls.
8. Upper Eagle Falls + Eagle Lake
The trail to Upper Eagle Falls is across the street from Emerald Bay State Park. The hike is very short and involves walking up a set of stone-cut stairs. From the parking lot, it should take about 5 minutes to reach the falls. You can end the hike at the Upper Eagle Falls Bridge or continue towards Eagle Lake (which I highly recommend).
If you continue to Eagle Lake:
From the Upper Eagle Falls bridge, the hike to Eagle Lake takes about 15 minutes. Even though the hike is short, you will be climbing quite a few sets of stone-carved stairs. Note that there is a section of the trail that isn't well marked. It's a good idea to have the trail pulled up on Google Maps or Alltrails before starting the hike.
9. The Rubicon Trail
The Rubicon Trail is one of the most beautiful trails in Lake Tahoe, and it's one of my favorite hikes on this list! It connects D.L. Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay State Park and has stunning views of the shoreline the whole way.
You can pick up the trail from Emerald Bay State Park via the Vikingsholm Trail or from D.L. Bliss State Park. If you hike the entire Rubicon Trail and then back, it will take about 10 miles round trip. Alternatively, if you would like to save yourself 5 miles, you can arrange for a friend to pick you up at the end of the hike and drive you back to your car.
For more on the Rubicon Trail check out this video!
10. Eagle Rock
Eagle Rock is a 1 mile out and back hike located near Homewood, California. The short but slightly steep 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 in Tahoe Pines, just south of Tahoe City and north of Homewood.
11. Stateline Fire Lookout
Historic Stateline Fire Lookout in Kings Beach 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 from the 1930s. There are numerous interpretive plaques along the trail with information about Lake Tahoe and its logging history (if you’re into that sort of thing).
Note that this trail gets pretty busy on the weekends and parking is limited.
12. Chickadee Ridge
If you're looking for a great trail to do a snowshoe hike in Lake Tahoe, Chickadee Ridge is a great option. Located off HWY 431, Chickadee Ridge is doable for all levels, including beginners. It doesn't take long to reach the ridge, which has gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe.
One of the coolest things about Chickadee Ridge are the chickadee birds that will fly right up to you! Of course, it helps to hold out some sunflower seeds in your hand.
There are many places to rent snowshoe gear in Lake Tahoe. I rented a set of snowshoes and poles from Village Ski Loft in Incline Village.
13. Monkey Rock
Monkey Rock is another one of my favorite hikes on this list! I have mentioned it quite a few times in previous posts.
The hike is 2.6 miles out and back and offers spectacular 180 views of Incline Village and the east shore. The monkey-carved rock is fun to take a snap with, especially if it's your first time on the trail. The trailhead to Monkey Rock is behind Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village.
For more on the Monkey Rock hike check out this video!
I hope you enjoyed this hiking guide! Let me know what some of your favorite hikes in Lake Tahoe are in the comments! Also, make sure to subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss the latest blog posts, videos, and announcements!