Hiking

Wildflower Hikes Tahoe Rim
North and West Shore Trails Wilderness Areas

 
There are enough hiking trails in the Lake Tahoe Basin to keep an avid hiker busy for years. We have organized popular Lake Tahoe hiking trails to make it easy for you to plan your hike based on your preference of scenery, location, elevation, distance and difficulty.

Know that weather conditions can change rapidly in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Bring proper clothing, equipment and plenty of water, no matter how short the hike!

Wildflower Hikes

West Shore

Cascade Falls to Snow Lake
Flowers include purple lupine, pink monkeyflowers, and purple-yellow camas lilies.
Variable hiking distance.
SR 89 at Bayview trailhead.

Eagle, Velma & Fontanillis Lakes
Flowers include pink and red mountain pride, yellow sulfur flower and white Sierra saxifrage.
Five miles hiking distance.
SR 89 at the Emerald Bay, Eagle Falls parking lot.

North Shore

Donner Lake Area
Flowers include wintergreen, blue-yellow-white porterellas, purple-yellow camas lilies and brown pinedrops.
Two miles hiking distance.
Just off I-80, west of Truckee.

Donner Pass-Pacific Crest Trail
Flowers include orange lilies, pink monkeyflowers and pink fireweed.
Variable hiking distance.
Less than two miles off SR 89, west of Truckee.

Mt. Rose
Flowers include red alpine paintbrush, white-purple lupine and pink fireweed.
Six miles hiking distance if you want to reach the peak.
West off SR 431 just before the Mt. Rose Summit.

Squaw Valley
Flowers include blue gentians and white thimble berries.
Two miles hiking distance.
West off SR 89 at the Squaw Valley turnoff.

Tahoe Rim Trail

Travel the Tahoe Rim Trail to enjoy panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the adjacent valleys. Traverse wilderness and retrace Indian paths and pioneer trails. Be captivated by the unforgettable vistas. The sky is intensely blue and the air is clear and fresh. Be one with nature. Solitude and beauty are the essence of the Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Tahoe Rim Trail is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to the planning, construction and maintenance of a 150-mile hiking and equestrian trail that follows the ridge tops of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Passing through six counties in two states, this loop trail incorporates a portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Generally moderate in difficulty with a 10% average grade, elevations range from 6,300 to 9,400 feet.

Construction on the trail began in 1984. Substantial segments are now complete. The remainder of the trail should be complete within a few years. Volunteers are the backbone of the project.

Brochures with trail information are available at trailhead bulletin boards, the Tahoe Rim Trail office, the Taylor Creek Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce offices around the Lake. Or just print the information on this page.

The Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park restricts camping to designated campsites. The USDA Forest Service requires permits in the Desolation Wilderness area.

Protect the beauty of Tahoe and follow low-impact wilderness usage. Stay on the trail, carry out all trash, camp at least 100 feet from lakes and streams and do not use soap near water sources. Water should be boiled or filtered to insure your safety.

Tahoe City Trailhead (SR 89)

This section of the trail offers panoramic views of the High Sierra, the Truckee River Canyon and Lake Tahoe. Watson Lake is located 12 miles from Tahoe City and is a small picturesque lake often used for picnics, camping and fishing. Beyond Watson Lake, beautiful meadows are filled with wildflowers during the spring and early summer.

Tahoe City To Brockway Summit
Begins at 6,300 feet. All of the 18.5 miles of this section of the trail are complete. The Tahoe City Trailhead is located across from the Fairway Community Center, 1/8 mile from SR 89 on Fairway Drive. Parking is available.

Watson Lake
Access begins 6.5 miles west of Brockway Summit via a one-fourth mile long, unmarked turnoff (eastward) from dirt road 16N73.

Brockway Summit Trailhead (SR 267)

Generally forested, this section of the trail offers panoramic views from a vista spur trail one mile east of the summit and from Martis Peak.

Brockway to Tahoe City
Begins at 7,200 feet. All of the 18.5 miles of this section of the trail are complete. The Brockway Summit (west) access is off SR 267 at a dirt parking pull-off, one-half mile south of the summit, just north of the “Leaving National Forest Lands” sign.

Brockway to Mt. Rose
Begins at 7,200 feet. There are four completed miles in this section of the trail. The trailhead (east) access is 200 feet east of SR 267, accessed via a dirt road and parking pull-off, one-half mile south of the summit, across from Brockway Summit (west) access.

Tahoe Meadows Trailhead (SR 431)

Tahoe Meadows to Tunnel Creek Road
Begins at 8,500 feet. This 9-mile section of the trail has not been completed. Try the 1.3 mile wheelchair-accessible meadow-loop trail, one-half mile west of the Mt. Rose summit on SR 431. There are restrooms, an equestrian staging area and parking.

North and West Shore Trails

Sugar Pine Point State Park Nature Trails
Contact state park rangers to obtain maps of the many trails located here. The park charges a parking fee for day use. While you’re there, don’t miss a tour of the historic Ehrman Mansion.

Sugar Pine Point Nature Trails
Easy
Flat
0.7 mile

Page Meadow
In the spring, myriads of beautiful wildflowers can be seen in this large meadow. From SR 89, two miles south of Tahoe City, turn on Pineland Drive. Turn right on Forest Service Road 15N60 or 16N48 to get to the area. There are no designated trails.

Page Meadow
Easy
Flat
No designated trails

Vikingsholm Castle
View an authentic replica of a Viking castle. Daily tours are given from mid-June through Labor Day. A nominal fee is charged. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the fabulous view of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island from the shoreline of Emerald Bay State Park. Hike the short trail to Lower Eagle Falls which begins directly across from the castle. Pets are not allowed. Take SR 89 north from South Lake Tahoe for approximately nine miles to the parking lot on the right. The parking lot fills up quickly in the summer season, so arrive early.

Vikingsholm Trail
Easy
Elevation 6230′ / 6630′
1 mile

Rubicon Trail
Dipping up and down along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe, this trail offers some of the most scenic views of the lake. Bring a swimsuit, towel and picnic lunch to enjoy a sunny day at one of the many quiet coves along the way. Take SR 89 north 10 miles from South Lake Tahoe to D.L. Bliss State Park. There is a fee for day use parking. Pets are not allowed.

Rubicon Trail
Moderate
Elevation 6230′ / 6580′
3.1 miles to Emerald Point
4.4 miles to Vikingsholm

Meeks Bay Trail
This moderate hike takes you along the northernmost part of the unofficial Tahoe-Yosemite Trail. After following a road for approximately 1.3 miles, the trail passes a small spring, parallels Meeks Creek and continues upward into a forested valley. A chain of Alpine lakes can be seen before the trail ascends 1,000 feet up a series of switchbacks leading to Phipps Pass. Take SR 89 to the Meeks Bay Resort. Parking is located across the highway from the resort at a small dirt parking lot. A Wilderness permit is required.

Meeks Bay Trail
Moderate
Elevation 6240′ / 8880′
4.5 miles to Genevieve
5 miles to Craig
5.7 miles to Hidden
5.9 to Shadow
6.3 miles to Stony Ridge
8 miles to Rubicon

Bayview Trail
Offering magnificent views of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe, this steep trail leads you up the side of Maggie’s Peak into Desolation Wilderness. Stop at Granite Lake for a short rest along the way. In 2.7 miles this trail intersects with the Eagle Falls Trail. Corral and watering facilities for horses are available at the trailhead. See “Cascade Creek Fall Trail” for directions. A Wilderness permit is required.

Bayview Trail
Strenuous
Elevation 6910′ / 8440′
1 miles to Granite
4 miles to Azure (x-co)
5 miles to Dicks

Eagle Falls Trail
Leading into the heart of Desolation Wilderness, this steep trail offers majestic views of the Sierra high country. Just a twenty-minute walk, Eagle Lake is a popular short hike. A longer hike will lead you to the three Velmas, Dicks, and Fontanillis lakes. Take SR 89 north approximately eight miles from South Lake Tahoe to Eagle Falls Picnic Area on the left. This is a very popular and congested area. A Wilderness permit is required.

Eagle Falls
Moderate
Elevation 6600′ / 7000′
4.5 miles to Dicks, Upper & Middle Velmas
Strenuous
Elevation 6600′ / 8500′
5 miles to Fontanillis

Wilderness Areas in the Lake Tahoe Basin

There are a number of wilderness areas in the Lake Tahoe Basin that provide breathtaking vistas and quiet solitude. We suggest five that are popular for hikers and campers. Please note that wilderness areas are special places that require special behavior from everyone. Be sure and contact the two USDA Forest Services listed under “Hiking Resources” on this page for jurisdiction, permissible activities, permit requirements, fees, regulations and seasonal concerns. Plan in advance and you’ll have a hassle-free great time in a wilderness area!

Desolation Wilderness
This is the most heavily used wilderness area per acre in the United States. It contain 63,475 acres of sub-Alpine forests, granite peaks and glacial lakes and valleys. Portions of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail pass through this area. Travel is limited to hikers and pack animals. Mountain bikes are not allowed. All persons entering Desolation Wilderness must obtain a wilderness permit and pay camping fees. Day-hikers may self-register at the trail heads, but overnight users must obtain the permit and pay fees in person. Since Desolation Wilderness is so popular, a wilderness permit quota system is in place for overnight campers from June 15 through Labor Day. Reservations for overnight permits are available only at the El Dorado National Forest Information Center. Campfires are prohibited at all times and you may only use portable stoves.

Granite Chief Wilderness
This wilderness area overlooks the northwest portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin and is adjacent to the Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley ski resorts. Not as crowded s Desolation Wilderness, hikers are not required to have wilderness permits, but campfire permits are necessary.

Meiss County
This is another spectacular area for exploring. Though not designated wilderness by Congress, this 20-square mile area between Luther Pass (SR 89) and Carson Pass (SR 88) contains six major lakes in a glacial sub-Alpine zone. Hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers are allowed. However, mountain bikers are not allowed on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Campfire permits are required.

Mokelumne Wilderness
Located between SR 88 and SR 4 just south of the Lake Tahoe Basin, this 105,165 acre wilderness is managed by the El Dorado, Stanislaus and Toiyabe National Forests. Wilderness Permits are required for overnight visits between April 1 and November 30. Wood fires are prohibited in the Carson Pass areas of Frog, Winnemucca, Round Top, Fourth of July and Emigrant Lakes. Even though wood fires are allowed everywhere, lightweight backpacking stoves are recommended as they are less damaging to the environment.

Mount Rose Wilderness
This wilderness area is one of the nation’s newest designated wilderness areas and is located in the extreme northeastern portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Access to this scenic area can be obtained from the Mt. Rose Highway (SR 431). Wilderness permits are not required.


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