Views from Lake Tahoe hikes

15 Best Lake Tahoe Hikes to Try in 2024 (by a local)

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I am a Northern California local and live just a 3-hour drive from Lake Tahoe! I am fortunate to be able to visit Lake Tahoe whenever I want to explore its amazing hikes and scenery.

Lake Tahoe, located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the border of California and Nevada, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, and hiking is one of the most popular activities in the area.

With its crystal-clear waters, towering peaks, and stunning alpine scenery, Lake Tahoe offers a wide range of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.

I have visited Lake Tahoe in Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring, and Lake Tahoe hiking trails offer a different experience each time, depending on the season.

In the spring and summer, you can enjoy wildflower blooms, lush greenery, and waterfalls, while in the fall, the changing leaves offer a vibrant display of color. In the winter, you can snowshoe or cross-country ski on the many open trails.

15 Best Lake Tahoe Hikes

Lake Tahoe is an easy weekend trip from San Francisco, so I am able to visit it whenever I am in the mood for an epic hike with lake views.

Lake Tahoe is largely divided into two main regions – North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe. Depending on traffic, it takes around 1 hour to 1.5 hours to drive from North to South Lake Tahoe and vice versa.

There are a lot of amazing hikes in both South Lake Tahoe and North Lake Tahoe regions for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Lake Tahoe’s hiking trails offer a diverse range of terrain, from gentle meadows to rocky ridges and steep inclines. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a challenging hike, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your skill level.

In this Lake Tahoe hiking guide, discover the best Lake Tahoe hiking trails in both South and North Lake Tahoe in the easy, moderate, and hard categories.

My top favorite Lake Tahoe Trails are:

  • Vikingsholm Trail to Emerald Bay – This easy hike will take you to Emerald Bay and Vikingsholm Castle, which cannot be reached by car. The only other way is to go by boat.
  • Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake Trail – Moderate hike but worth the effort with a waterfall mid-way and a lake at the end!

1. Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake Trail

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Moderate
  • Hike Length – 1.9 mile
  • Hike type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – 459 feet
  • Time Needed – around 2-3 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Eagle Falls Trailhead
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, steep trail with stone steps and incline.

The hike to Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake is one of my favorite hikes in South Lake Tahoe (the second is the Vikingsholm Trail down to Emerald Bay!).

This trail has it all – a waterfall, bridge, stream, boulders, incredibly scenic views, and a beautiful lake at the end!

There is a small parking lot at the Eagle Falls Trailhead and overflow parking along the main road. There is another parking lot across the street at Emerald Bay State Park, which is the trailhead for the Vikingsholm Trail.

The trail starts with a steep climb on stone steps. You will reach Eagle Falls at around the half-mile mark. The falls are beautiful and a good place to catch your breath.

Eagle Lake at the end of Eagle Lake Trail in Lake Tahoe
Eagle Lake at the end of Eagle Lake Trail

Continue another half mile on the trail to reach Eagle Lake. This part of the trail has a lot of uphill terrain and stone steps. There is also a beautiful vista point on the way.

The Eagle Lake at the end of the hike is a stunning alpine lake and worth the effort! It was so breathtakingly beautiful! During summer, a swim in the lake is refreshing to cool down before starting back.

The Eagle Lake trail is very popular in the summer months, and you should plan to either come really early in the day or late in the afternoon to get parking at either of the parking lots.

We have seen cars being parked at the side of the street, but make sure to not block the street. We saw a car being towed away as it was not parked correctly.

During winter, this trail is popular for snowshoeing.


2. Vikingsholm Trail to Emerald Bay

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
  • Hike Length – 1.7 mile
  • Hike type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – 377 feet
  • Time Needed – around 2 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – No
  • Trailhead – Starts at Emerald Bay State Park parking lot
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, steep trail on part paved and part dirt road. All-terrain and powered equipment might be ok, but the incline on the way up is very steep.

The Vikingsholm Trail to Emerald Bay and Lower Eagle Falls is my second favorite hike in South Lake Tahoe. I chose to do this hike for my birthday this year!

The trail starts at the Emerald Bay State Park parking lot. There is an observation area here for panoramic views of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island below.

The trail is downhill on a paved road all the way to Emerald Bay. The Vikingsholm Castle here is a replica of the Viking Castle, and you can take a guided tour of the castle in the summer.

Vikingsholm Castle at Emerald Bay can be reached by Lake Tahoe hikes
Vikingsholm Castle and Emerald Bay Beach

Once at Emerald Bay, you can relax at the Emerald Bay beach and admire the lake views or take a short hike to the lower Eagle Falls.

We visited in the Fall season, and there was not much water flowing down the lower Eagle Falls, but in late spring and early summer, the falls are spectacular.

The parking lot fills up early in the busy summer months, so plan to arrive really early in the day. There is overflow parking on the road, but that also fills up early. We came before 9 AM on a Friday in early August and were able to find parking.

➡ Alternatively, you can explore Emerald Bay on this Private Yacht Boat Tour on Lake Tahoe and see Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, and Fannette Island in style with just your group of up to 6 people.


3. Rubicon Trail to Lighthouse and Emerald Bay

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Moderate
  • Hike Length – 16.4 mile
  • Hike type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – 2340 feet
  • Time Needed – around 7 to 8 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – No
  • Trailhead – You can start at the D.L.Bliss State Park or Emerald Bay State Park
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, rocky terrain and incline in parts

You can enjoy a portion of the Rubicon Trail on this long but extraordinarily scenic hike from D.L. Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay. Remember not to confuse this Rubicon trail along the Lake Tahoe shoreline with the other Rubicon trail nearby that is meant for off-road driving.

The best way to do the Rubicon Trail hike is to start at the D.L. Bliss State Park and hike all the way to Emerald Bay State Park. The entire trail one way is 8 miles, and the round trip is 16 miles.

You can park at the D. L. Bliss Campground parking lot at the Rubicon Lighthouse trailhead. From there, follow the Rubicon Lighthouse trail down to Calawee Cove beach.

Next, follow the Rubicon trail south all the way to Emerald Bay and Vikingsholm Castle. Climb the steep 1-mile fire road at Emerald Bay to the Emerald Bay parking lot if doing this hike one way. Otherwise, you can return back the same way you came.

Emerald Bay can be accessed by Rubicon Trail in Lake Tahoe
Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe

The hike has varied terrain with uphill and downhill inclines, stone steps, and bridges. You will see mindblowing views of Lake Tahoe on this hike and a variety of trees and forests.

You can make the hike shorter by taking a ride back from Emerald Bay State Park to your starting point. Some folks also take two cars and park one at DL Bliss State Park and the second car at Emerald Bay State Park to avoid doing the round-trip hike.

Emerald Bay via Lighthouse and Rubicon Trail is one of the best Lake Tahoe hikes and a must-do. It is long, but if you start early and take plenty of breaks, it should be doable.

Make sure to pack enough water and snacks, as there is no food available to purchase on the trail.


4. Cascade Falls Trail

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty Level – Easy
  • Hike Length – 1.4 mile
  • Hike Type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – 255 feet
  • Time Needed – around1 hour
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts across the Road from Inspiration Point, off Highway 89.
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, dirt trail with boulders and stone steps and some incline.

Cascade Falls Trail is a beautiful waterfall hike in South Lake Tahoe. The trail is mostly easy but could be considered moderate by some due to the boulders and rocky terrain.

The trailhead starts off of Highway 89, across from the Inspiration Point parking lot. There is a small parking lot at the trailhead, and parking can be challenging as this is one of the popular Lake Tahoe hikes.

Lake Tahoe hikes
Hiking trail in Lake Tahoe

The trail goes through a forest path at first, and then some incline over stone steps. The trail is not challenging, but there are small and large boulders that might be a little challenging to navigate. I think the boulders add an interesting element to the hike.

At the end of the hike, there are the gorgeous Cascade Falls, which are spectacular in the late spring and early summer months, with the water feeding the falls from the snow melt. There are several water pools here as well.

The trail rewards you with impressive views of Cascade Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Emerald Bay with very little effort. Cascade Falls Trail is a great family-friendly waterfall hike with rocky terrain and great views.


5. Echo Lakes Trail

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Moderate
  • Hike Length – 5.3 mile
  • Hike Type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – around 500 feet
  • Time Needed – around 2-3 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Echo Lake Trailhead
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, dirt trail with stone steps and incline.

The Echo Lakes Trail is a little south of Lake Tahoe and is a very scenic lake along the perimeter of lower and upper Echo Lakes.

The trail starts at the Lower Echo Lake Trailhead near Echo Chalet and goes along one side of Echo Lake all the way to the other end of the lake.

Echo Lake near South Lake Tahoe
Echo Lake near South Lake Tahoe

The hike has some initial climb, and then the remainder of it is on an elevated dirt path with the lake on one side and rocky boulders on the other side.

The boulders are great for scrambling. My kids loved climbing the boulders! The hike had gorgeous lake views throughout, and overall, it was a really nice hike.

As it is an out-and-back hike, you can return any time you want, as the views pretty much remain the same. We were running out of daylight, so we returned from the halfway point.

If you make it to the other end of Upper Echo Lake, during the summer months, you can take a boat taxi instead of hiking back and enjoy some time on the water.


6. Fallen Leaf Lake Trail

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Moderate
  • Hike Length – 3.6 mile
  • Hike Type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – around 137 feet
  • Time Needed – around 2 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Fallen Leaf Campground parking lot off Fallen Leaf Road.
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, rocky and dirt paths

The Fallen Leaf trail is a nice walk along the lakefront of Fallen Leaf Lake, south of Lake Tahoe. The trailhead starts from the Fallen Leaf Campground and continues along the lakeshore.

This trail is not marked clearly, though. From the campground, there is an initial uphill climb, and then you follow the path close to the lake. There are many forks in the path here, so make sure to stay close to the lake.

This is a nice place to walk around and enjoy lake views, especially if you are camping in the area or if you want to escape from the crowds at South Lake Tahoe and are looking for a more secluded experience.

The Fallen Leaf Lake is beautiful, and the water is crystal clear. Swimming and boating are popular here, in addition to hiking.


7. Mount Tallac Trail

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Hard
  • Hike Length – 10.5 mile
  • Hike Type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – Around 3,275 feet
  • Time Needed – around 7-8 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Mount Tallac Trailhead
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, steep trail with stone steps and incline.

Mount Tallac is known for its panoramic views of the entire Lake Tahoe from its summit. The Mount Tallac trail to the summit is one of the most popular Lake Tahoe hikes in the difficult category.

Mount Tallac trailhead is around a mile off Highway 89 across from Baldwin Beach in South Lake Tahoe. The initial hike is a climb with views of Fallen Leaf Lake on one side.

You will come across Floating Islands Lake and Cathedral Lake on the way. These first 2 miles are the easy part of the hike.

Once past the lakes, the latter part of the trail toward the summit is very rocky, and some scrambling might be required. Really good hiking shoes are required in the rocky part of the trail to protect your feet.

The latter part of the trail is exposed to the sun, so a sunshirt and hat would be helpful, along with plenty of water.

Once at the summit, you will see unparalleled views of South Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay. These are some of the best views of Lake Tahoe!

As this trail is part of Desolation Wilderness, a wilderness permit is required to hike the Mount Tallac trail, which can be picked up from the trailhead.


8. Tahoe East Shore trail

  • Region – North Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Hike Length – 2.6 mile
  • Hike type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – around 145 feet
  • Time Needed – around 1-2 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – Yes, paved trail with 5% or less incline

The Tahoe East Shore Trail is in North Lake Tahoe near Incline Village. This 2.6-mile, nearly flat trail is great for anyone looking for an easy lakeside trail with great views of Lake Tahoe.

This trail is paved and goes from the Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village all the way to Sand Harbor Beach. The trail is popular for biking and leisurely walking.

The Sand Harbor Beach is my favorite beach in Lake Tahoe. It is also probably the most photographed one, with the iconic clear blue waters and the boulders in the lake.

Sand Harbor Beach in North Lake Tahoe
Sand Harbor Beach in North Lake Tahoe

The trail pretty much runs next to the main Tahoe Blvd Road and the lake. There are several overlooks on the way to admire the lake views and paths to go down to beaches and shore. There are benches along the way to take breaks.

Tahoe East Shore Trail is a scenic trail with amazing lake views and beach access without much effort and one of the best easy Lake Tahoe hikes.

➡ Alternatively, you can explore Tahoe East Shore Trail on an electric bike with this Tahoe Coastal Self-Guided E-Bike Tour on East Shore Trail


9. Monkey Rock Trail

  • Region – North Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Moderate
  • Hike Length – 2.6 mile
  • Hike Type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – around 500 feet
  • Time Needed – around 2 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, steep trail with incline.

The Monkey Rock Trail is a very popular trail in North Lake Tahoe, famous for the rock carved like a monkey’s face.

The trailhead and parking lot for the Monkey Rock Trail is the same as the Tahoe East Shore Trail, near Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village. Follow the Tunnel Creek Road paved bike path behind the cafe, which later turns into a sandy path.

The Tunnel Creek Road trail is a wide sandy/dirt path lined with trees and is a nice scenic hike. The entire hike is a climb uphill, and the incline is quite steep.

Keep in mind that this path is also used for biking, and you might encounter bikers coming downhill, so be on the lookout for them, especially around blind corners.

There is a fork in the path about halfway up, and going on the left path will lead you to Monkey Rock. This trail path to Monkey Rock isn’t marked properly, so be on the lookout for it.

The Monkey Rock is quite realistic, and the views of Lake Tahoe from here are breathtaking and worth the effort. Once back down, refuel yourself at the Tunnel Creek Cafe.

The Monkey Rock Trail is very crowded on the weekends, so going on a weekday or early morning is best to avoid crowds.


10. Cave Rock Trail

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Hike Length – 0.8 mile
  • Hike Type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – around 150 feet
  • Time Needed – around 30 minutes to an hour
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Cave Rock Trailhead at Cave Rock Dr, Nevada
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, steep trail with incline.

Cave Rock Trail is a short easy trail up the rock tunnel on Highway 50, a little north of Zephyr Cove. The top of the tunnel is a great photo spot for views of the highway below.

Reaching the top of the tunnel will need some scrambling up rocks, and if you make it to the top of the rock tunnel, the views of Lake Tahoe are amazing!

The Cave Rock Trail is a popular spot for sunset viewing, and the parking lot here is very small, with spots for only 4-5 cars, so plan accordingly.


11. Stateline Fire Lookout Trail

  • Region – North Lake Tahoe, near Kings Beach
  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Hike Length – 1.7 mile
  • Hike type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – around 300 feet
  • Time Needed – around an hour
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Stateline Fire Lookout Trailhead
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, paved but steep trail with 8 to 12% grade.

Stateline Fire Lookout Trail is one of the best easy Lake Tahoe hikes with some incline for anyone looking to see elevated views of Lake Tahoe with little effort.

The trail starts at the Stateline Fire Lookout Trailhead, and you will have to park along the side of the road as there is no designated parking lot at the trailhead.

The trail is at the Stateline of Nevada and California, hence the name. Cool experience for those who like to walk in two states in one hike!

The trail uphill to the lookout is paved, and there is a small trail at the top to explore the lookout area.

From the Historic Stateline Fire Lookout Point, you will see amazing panoramic views of Crystal Bay, the North Lake Tahoe area, and Lake Tahoe.


12. Granite Lake and Maggie’s Peaks

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Hard
  • Hike Length – around 4 mile
  • Hike Type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – around 1775 feet
  • Time Needed – around 4-5 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Bayview Trailhead near Inspiration Point
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, steep trail with incline.

If you are looking for a challenging hike in South Lake Tahoe, the hike up to Granite Lake and Maggie’s Peaks is one of the best Lake Tahoe hikes in the hard category.

From the summit, the hike promises epic views of Lake Tahoe, Cascade Lake, Emerald Bay, Desolation Wilderness, and even Eagle Lake and Fallen Leaf Lake!

Views from Lake Tahoe hikes
Views from Lake Tahoe hikes

The trail starts from Bayview Trailhead and is a steep initial climb of 1 mile till you reach Granite Lake. From there, the trail continues up a saddle between the two Maggie’s Peaks.

You can choose to summit either peak. There is no clear trail to the summit, but it is easy to follow and reach the peak. The path to the summit is rocky, and some scrambling might be required.

During the winter months, the Bayview campground might be closed, and you will have to park along the main Highway 89 road, adding an extra mile to the hike.


13. Van Sickle Waterfall hike

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe
  • Difficulty level – Moderate
  • Hike Length – 3 miles
  • Hike Type – Out and Back
  • Elevation – around 500 feet
  • Time Needed – around 2-3 hours
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at Van Sickle State Park Trailhead
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, steep trail with incline.

The Van Sickle Trail is in the Van Sickle Bi-State Park, just behind the Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe. The Van Sickle waterfall hike is part of the larger Van Sickle Rim Trail Connector trail.

The Van Sickle State Park trailhead has parking, picnic tables, and restrooms. The Van Sickle Trail is clearly marked at the trailhead. Just follow the trail to the waterfall.

Along the way, there is a scenic vista point with excellent views of Lake Tahoe. The waterfall bridge will be around 1.5 miles from the trailhead.

You can turn back at this point or extend the hike to the point where it connects to the Tahoe Rim Trail, but there is nothing much to see at the connection point.

The hike down from the waterfall bridge to the trailhead faces the lake and is incredibly scenic, with epic views of Lake Tahoe!


14. Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Nature Trail

  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Region – North Lake Tahoe
  • Hike Length – 1.3 mile
  • Hike type – Loop
  • Elevation – 62 feet
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead Location – Starts at Tahoe Meadows Tahoe Rim Trail Trailhead
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – Only initially on the boardwalk. The latter hike is a dirt road, not paved.

Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Nature Trail is a very easy, almost flat hike in North Lake Tahoe. The hike is just a gentle walk through the meadows and forest, and there is no end goal here. It is more like a forest bathing experience and being one with nature.

Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Trail
Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Trail

This is a family-friendly hike and has a lot of interesting elements like bridges, a boardwalk, a forest, and a meadow. Whenever we visit Lake Tahoe with our parents, we take them on this trail as it is mostly flat and easy on their knees.

The trail is a great place to see wildflowers in Spring and fall colors in the Fall season. During winter, the trail is great for snowshoeing.


15. Skyline Trail / Tamarack Trail hike

  • Region – South Lake Tahoe (hikes at the top of Heavenly Gondola)
  • Difficulty level – Moderate
  • Hike Length – around 1.3 miles one-way
  • Hike Type – Out and Back (up by chairlift, down by hiking)
  • Elevation – none, all downhill
  • Time Needed – around 1 hour
  • Dog-friendly? – Yes, but on a leash
  • Trailhead – Starts at the top of Tamarack Express chairlift
  • Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No, rocky trail with and downhill incline.

How about some low-effort hiking with out-of-the-world views of the entire perimeter of Lake Tahoe from above? During the summer months, we love to take the Heavenly Gondola to the top of the mountain and explore the Skyline Trail or Tamarack Trail at the top.

To access the hikes at the top of the Heavenly Gondola, you will first need to take the Heavenly Gondola from Heavenly Village. The Gondola has scenic views of Lake Tahoe going up. In the Gondola, I recommend sitting facing Lake Tahoe for epic views.

Halfway, there is an observation deck. Step out here for some stunning views while going up. You will not be able to stop here on the way down. These are some of the best panoramic views of Lake Tahoe from above.

Views from Lake Tahoe hikes
View of Lake Tahoe from top of Heavenly Gondola

Then, board the gondola again and reach the Top of the Gondola station. From here, take the Tamarack Express chairlift to access the Tamarack trailhead.

The trail is clearly marked and is all downhill, with excellent views of Lake Tahoe. This 1.3-mile trail will take you back to the Tamarack Express Chairlift starting point. From here, you can take the Gondola back down to Heavenly Village or explore the activities at the Top of the Gondola area.

Note: There is a fee to use the Heavenly Gondola in summer, and there are several kid-friendly activities at the top, like rope courses. You can buy activity passes at the Heavenly Gondola ticket booth. My kids love doing the rope courses here!


More things to do in Lake Tahoe

Even though hiking is one of the most popular things to do in Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe has so much more to do than hiking!

One of the most popular things to do is to take one of the boat tours in Lake Tahoe, or like the locals like to say, ‘Get on the Lake!’

Boats in Lake Tahoe
Boating is very popular in Lake Tahoe

Below are some top excursions in Lake Tahoe for your trip:

Private Yacht Boat Tour on Lake Tahoe – See Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, and Fannette Island in style in this private yacht boat tour for just your group of up to 6 people. The boat captain will guide you to the most scenic spots on the lake!

2-Hour Sailing Cruise on Lake Tahoe – After a morning of hiking, enjoy a peaceful 2-hour cruise on a sailing yacht with this small group (maximum 18 passengers), highly rated boat tour in Lake Tahoe.

Emerald Bay Helicopter Tour of Lake Tahoe – See the panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, and surrounding lakes from above in this helicopter tour of Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe Small-Group Photography Scenic Half-Day Tour – Discover some of the best photography spots on Lake Tahoe, get professional photography tips, and take Instagram-worthy shots on this half-day small group tour with a maximum of 6 people.

Tahoe Coastal Self-Guided E-Bike Tour on East Shore Trail – Explore the popular East Shore Trail at your own pace with an electric bike. Stop at beaches along the way and enjoy the scenery! Great family-friendly activity.


Where to stay in Lake Tahoe for hiking?

Lake Tahoe is bustling with hotels and vacation rentals for every group size and budget. Most accommodation options are concentrated in the North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe regions.

South Lake Tahoe has many more hotel and vacation rental options than North Lake Tahoe.

Views from Lake Tahoe hikes
Views from Lake Tahoe hikes

Best hotels in South Lake Tahoe

Marriott Timber Lodge – Upscale resort in the best location, next to Heavenly Gondola. Right in the middle of South Lake Tahoe’s main hub for restaurants and shopping.

Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel – Mid-range resort in a great location, right at the Stateline. Walk to the casinos and restaurants in Heavenly Village.

Hilton Vacation Club Lake Tahoe Resort – Has multiple room condos with full kitchen, pool, and other resort amenities. Near Heavenly Village.

Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge & Spa – Mid-range to affordable hotel at the beach! Very popular with families.

Best hotels in North Lake Tahoe

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort – Upscale resort in Incline Village with Spa, Casino, several restaurants, and pool. Walk to Incline Beach. Near Incline Village golf course.

Cedar Glen Lodge is a charming resort on the beach with rustic decor and family rooms with kitchens. 3-minute drive to Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe.

Vacation Rentals in Lake Tahoe

Vacation rentals – South Lake Tahoe has plenty of vacation rentals for large families or groups of friends to share. Whenever we go to Tahoe with extended family, we always book vacation rentals. You can find homes with several bedrooms and a full kitchen. Many homes here have lake views, a pool, or are close to a hiking trail.


Travel tips for hiking in Lake Tahoe

Below are some travel tips for planning an epic visit to Lake Tahoe for hiking.

When to visit Lake Tahoe for hiking?

Lake Tahoe receives a lot of snowfall in the winter months of December to March, with November and April being shoulder months for snowfall.

Ideal conditions for hiking in Lake Tahoe are from May to October when the trails will be free of snow. Late Spring, Summer, and Fall months are ideal for hiking in Lake Tahoe. We usually go to Lake Tahoe in the Fall when most of the tourist season is over.

Most Lake Tahoe hiking trails are open year-round, even in Winter, and hiking can be experienced with snowshoes or crampons/microspikes on your shoes.

How to get to Lake Tahoe?

The closest commercial airport to Lake Tahoe is the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which serves 20+ destinations across the US. You can get a rental car at the airport, and Lake Tahoe is around a 45-minute drive from the airport.

Lake Tahoe is around a 3.5-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area and around a 2-hour drive from Sacramento.

If you are not local to Northern California, a visit to Lake Tahoe is often combined with a Nothern California road trip or San Francisco itinerary.

How to get around Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe is best explored with a car or rental car if you are flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

➡ I recommend checking out rental cars at Discover Cars, as they provide the best rates with top car rental brands.

Tips for hiking in Lake Tahoe

  • Parking – Most trails on this list are highly popular, and parking might be an issue in the busy summer months. To avoid parking issues, either arrive really early in the day or in the late afternoon / early evening.
  • Permits – Many trails require hiking permits or wilderness permits and are based on the honor system. There are self-service kiosks for permits, usually at the trailheads.
  • Bear safety – Bears are common in Lake Tahoe, and in mountain trails or remote trails, you might encounter a bear. It might be a good idea to carry bear bells.
  • Leave no trace behind – Always pack it in, pack it out. Do not leave any traces on the trails, and keep the trails enjoyable for everyone!

FAQs about hiking in Lake Tahoe

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about hiking in Lake Tahoe.

Is Lake Tahoe good for hiking?

Lake Tahoe is a hiker’s paradise. Lake Tahoe offers a wide range of hikes to choose from ranging from easy lakeside strolls at Tahoe East Shore Trail, to waterfall hikes like Eagle Falls and Cascade Falls, as well as strenous hikes to mountain peaks like Mount Tallac and Maggies’ Peaks.

The Vikingsholm trail or Rubicon trail down to Emerald Bay is a must do while in Lake Tahoe.

What part of Lake Tahoe is best for hiking?

South Lake Tahoe is best for hiking in Lake Tahoe. In South Lake Tahoe, you will find some of the best Lake Tahoe hikes, like the Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake Trail, Vikingsholm Trail to Emerald Bay, Rubicon Trail to Lighthouse and Emerald Bay, Echo Lakes Trail, Mount Tallac, and many more.

Which hiking trails have the best views of Lake Tahoe?

The following hikes have some of the best views of Lake Tahoe:

  • Rubicon Trail to Lighthouse and Emerald Bay – views of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay.
  • Vikingsholm Trail to Emerald Bay – Excellent views of Emerald Bay from the lookout point.
  • Mount Tallac Trail – Panoramic views of Lake Tahoe from the summit.
  • Granite Lake and Maggie’s Peaks – Epic views of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay from the the summit.

Which are the best easy Lake Tahoe hikes?

Lake Tahoe has a lot of hikes that can be done with little effort and still provide panoramic views of the beautiful lake and the surrounding mountains.

Below are the best easy Lake Tahoe Hikes:

  • Tahoe East Shore trail, North Lake Tahoe
  • Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Nature Trail, North Lake Tahoe
  • Stateline Fire Lookout Trail, North Lake Tahoe
  • Cave Rock Trail, South Lake Tahoe
  • Cascade Falls Trail, South Lake Tahoe

Which are the best waterfall hikes in Lake Tahoe?

With all the snow melt, Lake Tahoe has a lot of stunning waterfalls in late Spring and summer which can be easily accessed by hiking.

Below are the best waterfall hikes in Lake Tahoe:

  • Upper Eagle Falls Trail, South Lake Tahoe
  • Lower Eagle Falls Trail, South Lake Tahoe
  • Cascade Falls Trail, North Lake Tahoe
  • Van Sickle Waterfall hike, South Lake Tahoe

Which are the best South Lake Tahoe hikes?

Some of the best South Lake Tahoe hikes are –

  • Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake Trail
  • Vikingsholm Trail to Emerald Bay
  • Rubicon Trail to Lighthouse and Emerald Bay
  • Cascade Falls Trail
  • Echo Lakes Trail
  • Mount Tallac Trail

Which are the best North Lake Tahoe hikes?

Some of the best North Lake Tahoe hikes are:

  • Monkey Rock Trail
  • Tahoe East Shore Trail
  • Stateline Fire Lookout Trail
  • Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Nature Trail

Which are the best Lake Tahoe hikes with kids?

The Vikingsholm Trail to Emerald Bay is great for kids as it is a paved road downhill, and there is a castle and a beach at Emerald Bay which would be fun for the kids. The 1 mile climb back up is a little challenging but doable with breaks.

Another family-friendly trail is Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Nature Trail which is a gentle walk through a forest meadow and is a loop hike with little to no elevation gain.

Is there a trail that goes around Lake Tahoe?

Tahoe Rim Trail is a 170-mile loop trail around Lake Tahoe with around 28,000 overall elevation gain. This is a multi-day hike and is ideal for backpacking. Parts of this trail are in the Desolation Wilderness and require a permit.

What to pack for hiking in Lake Tahoe?

The basic hiking essentials should be enough for most hikes in Lake Tahoe. Below are some hiking supplies to pack for Lake Tahoe hikes:

  • Reusable Water Bottle or hydration pack
  • Snacks
  • Hiking shirts and pants
  • Light waterproof jacket
  • Hiking shoes and extra socks
  • Hiking backpack
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Cap or sun hat
  • Downloaded trail maps on your phone
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles (if you need them for support on rocky trails)

Final Takeaways: Best Lake Tahoe hiking trails

Lake Tahoe is a hiking destination that offers something for everyone. With its stunning scenery and diverse terrain, it’s no wonder that hikers from around the world come to explore the amazing Lake Tahoe hikes.

The hiking trails in Lake Tahoe offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and lakes. From the granite peaks of the Desolation Wilderness to the lush meadows of the Tahoe Rim Trail, you will be treated to breathtaking scenery at every turn.

No matter which Lake Tahoe hike you choose, you are sure to be spellbound by the picturesque beauty of Lake Tahoe.


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