Top 10 Lake Tahoe Hikes

There is no better way to experience the natural beauty Lake Tahoe has to offer than on foot. These are some of our favorite Lake Tahoe Hikes. From easy to strenuous, Lake Tahoe boasts some of the best hikes in North America. You can be rewarded with beautiful scenery, occasional glimpses of wildlife, and trails suited to every taste and ability. has put together a list of just a few great hikes around Lake Tahoe.

Eagle Falls / Eagle Lake

This trail starts at Eagle Falls Picnic Area, highway 89 across from Emerald Bay. Permits are required on this hike and a self-registration station is at the trailhead. The hike is only about 2 miles round trip to Eagle Lake (only about 1/3 mile to the falls); the terrain varies from steep to flat and crosses beautiful Eagle Falls on a steel footbridge.

Emerald Bay – Vikingsholm

Trail starts at the parking area on the north side of Emerald Bay, on Highway 89. It’s a wide, well-maintained trail, but fairly steep, about 2 miles round trip. At the bottom of the trail is a picnic area, as well as world-famous Vikingsholm, a replica of a Scandinavian castle.

Glacier Meadow Loop

A very short, self-guided nature trail that begins and ends at the Eastbound I-80 rest stop on Donner Summit. This is a relaxing stroll with signs along the trail explaining how glacial action carved and polished the area.

Loch Leven Lakes

Three beautiful glacial tarns make up the Loch Leven group. A well-graded trail climbs 3 miles to the first lake and then reaches two more in the next few miles. The island-dotted lakes are beautiful and excellent for swimming. Trailhead: Big Bend Exit off I-80. The parking lot is 1/8 mile east of the Visitor Center. A good hike if you’re headed for Sacramento or the Bay Area at day‚’s end.

Lower Lola Montez Lake

From I-80 west of Truckee, take the Soda Springs exit. Make two quick rights, passing the fire station, to the trailhead and parking area. Follow the trail north until you come to a road that will take you across Castle Creek (may cause some wet feet in springtime). Follow road about a mile to a trail which veers to the right. Another mile ahead, the trail rejoins the road. Continue climbing on the road about 1 mile until you reach a flat, open meadow where the road ends. The trail begins in the meadow but may be difficult to follow due to overgrowth. At the fork in the meadow, bear right to go to the lake, which is about a mile ahead. There are campsites and fishing. This is an easy 6-mile round-trip hike. Much of the trail is on private property; hikers are requested to stay on the trail and observe the rights of landowners.

Marlette Lake

Trail starts near Spooner Lake Picnic Area, at the junction of Highway 28 and 50, Nevada (green metal gate on east side of 28). It’s about 5 miles each way to the lake but it’s mostly mild terrain (one full day will do it). Years ago, its water was diverted to Incline Village via flume and used to shoot logs through a tunnel to Washoe Valley for use in the Virginia City mines. (no fishing.)

Rubicon Trail

This shoreline route starts in D. L. Bliss State Park, about 13 miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89. The trail has moderate ups and downs, following an undeveloped portion of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline for about 3 miles to the mouth of Emerald Bay. From there it follows the Bay shoreline another One – Two miles to Vikingsholm. (NOTE: Vikingsholm up to Highway 89 us a steep mile but the hearty can return along the highway instead of doubling back on the trail.) Handicap accommodations are available with advance reservation. State Park fee: $5 per vehicle. No dogs are allowed on the trails in state parks. Call (530) 525-7077 for information.

Shirley Lake

It’s in Squaw Valley and the trail starts at the end of Squaw Peak Road. (There are numerous trails which follow the creek up to Shirley Lake; this is one of them.) It follows Squaw Creek about 2 miles each way to Shirley Lake, passing gorgeous waterfalls and canyon boulders. (Top of tram to Shirley Lake adds considerable distance.) Going uphill, stay to the left of the creek; going downhill, stay to the right. The trail diverges and disappears at times but just keep following the creek and you’ll get there. Carry water. The hike is somewhat difficult and takes 2 – 3 hours. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes.

Summit Lake

From I80 take Donner Summit Rest Area exit and park. Just beyond the picnic tables behind the building are trail signs for Summit and some longer trails.

Tunnel Creek Station

Trail road starts at Nevada Highway 28, across from Hidden Beach, about 1 mile past Ponderosa Ranch (no sign, look for gate). A steep trail road, about 1 mile each way, at the ruins of the western portal of the old log flume tunnel. Limited parking along Highway 28.

Recent Trails