The Best Hikes in Tahoe

The Best Hikes in Tahoe

People come to Tahoe for the outdoor activities and stunning landscape, and what better way to get both of those things than going for a hike. There are literally trails everywhere in Tahoe so getting out into nature is pretty easy, and there are a wide variety of trails ranging from easy and short to very difficult. 

These are some of my favorite hikes in Tahoe, there are a variety of difficulty levels, but all of them are awesome and incredibly picturesque. 

The Best Hikes in Tahoe

Cascade Falls - Tahoe

Cascade Falls

Distance: About 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Trail: Out & Back

This is a super short and easy hike to an awesome waterfall. It’s good for kids and dogs and has great views. The trailhead is near Emerald Bay so parking can be difficult on the weekend.

Lake Winnemucca Hike

Lake Winnemucca

Distance: About 5 Miles
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Trail: Out & Back

Lake Winnemucca is out on Carson Pass near Kirkwood. In the spring you can see beautiful wild flowers and if you’re feeling daring, jump in the lake for a refreshing dip! 

Van Sickle Trail

Van Sickle

Distance: About 8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Out & Back or Loop

Van Sickle Bi-State Park is on the California and Nevada border and right in town behind the casinos making it a really easy one to get to. You can do it as an out and back on the Van Sickle Trail or make it a loop by connecting to one of the other many trails in the park.

Dardanelles Lake

Dardanelles Lake

Distance: About 8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Out & Back

This moderate hike takes you out to Dardanelles Lake, which has dramatic granite cliffs on one side and sandy and rocky beaches around the rest of the lake. Take a swim in the lake to cool off from the hike and enjoy the gorgeous alpine environment.

Castle Rock Hike

Castle Rock

Distance: About 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Out & Back or Loop

There are quite a few trails in this area which means you can do a simple out and back to Castle Rock or make it into a loop using some of the other trails, just be sure to keep an eye on your GPS or maps so that you don’t end up going the wrong direction. You can also climb or scramble up Castle Rock for some epic views of the lake and Tahoe basin.

Cave Rock View

Cave Rock

Distance: About 1 mile
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Out & Back

This is a short but really good hike to do for sunset. I’ve rated it as moderate because you do have to scramble up the rocks at the end for the view. If you’ve ever driven Highway 50 from South Lake to Carson City you’ve probably gone through the tunnel under this rock. 

High Meadow Trail

High Meadow

Distance: About 8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Out & Back or Loop

You can do this trail as an out and back by just going up the High Meadow trail, or make it into a loop by coming down on the Cold Creek Trail. This one is especially pretty in the fall when the aspen leaves are changing.

Tahoe Mountain Hike

Tahoe Mountain

Distance: About 7.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Loop

From Tahoe Mountain you’ll get awesome views of Lake Tahoe from the top and of all the surrounding mountains on your way up. This trail is also used by mountain bikers so make sure to watch out for any bikes coming down.

Echo Lakes Hike

Echo Lakes

Distance: About 5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Trail: Out & Back

Up on Echo Summit you’ll find Echo Lakes, and the hike that goes around the lake is gorgeous. It is a popular area so it can get quite crowded on the weekends and parking is limited so it’s a good idea to get there early in the morning.

Maggies Peak

Maggies Peak

Distance: About 5 miles
Difficulty: Difficult
Type of Trail: Out & Back

This hike isn’t very long but it’s quite steep which is why it has the difficult rating. From the top you get amazing views of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, and Cascade Lake. 

Tallac hike

Mount Tallac

Distance: About 11 miles
Difficulty: Difficult
Type of Trail: Out & Back

Tallac might be the most well known hike in Tahoe, it is one of the highest peaks in the basin and has amazing panoramic views at the top. The summit is really rocky and requires some scrambling.

Pyramid Peak

Pyramid Peak

Distance: About 9 miles
Difficulty: Difficult
Type of Trail: Out & Back

The start of Pyramid Peak is technically outside the Tahoe basin down near Twin Bridges, but from the peak, you can see Desolation Wilderness and Lake Tahoe. The trail is pretty steep in places and the summit is really rocky and requires scrambling.

A few things to note about hiking in Tahoe

  • The weather can change very quickly in the mountains. In the summer you can get afternoon thunderstorms so pack rain gear if that’s a possibility. 
  • Being at a high altitude the sun is hotter and brighter than at sea level so make sure to wear sunscreen and bring water with you.
  • Altitude sickness can also be an issue if you are not used to higher elevations so if you start to feel nauseous, lightheaded, or dizzy head down the mountain.
  • Always bring snacks, A) because snacks are delicious, and B) because if you end up out on the trail longer than you thought it’s good to have a little something to eat.
  • Dogs are allowed on all the trails listed here, but some of the higher peaks like Tallac and Pyramid have a lot of tallis rock which can be hard on their paws.

Hiking Gear

READ MORE:
The Best Spots for Photos Around Tahoe
A Hipster’s Guide to South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe Brewery Tour

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  1. Pingback: The Best Spots for Photos Around Tahoe - Nattie on the Road

  2. Pingback: Packing for Summer in Tahoe - Nattie on the Road

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