2 In North America

Hiking Lake Tahoe’s Rubicon Trail

Lake Tahoe’s stunning Rubicon Trail stretches between Emerald Bay State Park and D.L. Bliss State Park in South Lake Tahoe. 

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

Throughout the hike you can enjoy a variety of landscapes and vantage points along the lakeshore, sometimes walking right by the water and others climbing slightly for gorgeous panoramic vistas. 

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

Side note: the Rubicon Trail that I’m featuring here is the lakeside hiking trail, not to be confused with the 4×4 trail near Lake Tahoe with the same name. 

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

Despite some mild elevation change and a bit of narrow, rocky terrain, it’s not a particularly intense hike. And for a little bit of effort, you get a big reward.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
Can we talk about these views?

A great thing about the Rubicon Trail is that it’s customizable depending on how much time and energy you have.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

Walking the entire route between D.L. Bliss State Park and the Eagle Point Campground in Emerald Bay State Park is about twelve miles round trip.

Walking from D.L. Bliss to the lake’s famed Vikingsholm castle – a popular alternative that ends about 1.5 miles before the Eagle Point Campground – is just over nine miles round trip.

There’s also the option of walking a smaller section in one of the two parks instead of visiting both.

In the end, we decided to walk one way from Emerald Bay to D.L. Bliss.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
You’ll find Calawee Cove in D.L. Bliss near the Rubicon’s trailhead. This quiet and beautiful beach was a highlight of the hike and our time on the lake!
Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
Calawee Cove from above
Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

As we soon found out, hiking the trail one way can be a little tricky. While totally doable, there are a couple of factors that mean you do need to plan ahead: the location of the trailheads and the shuttle bus schedule.

More on that soon.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
Let’s be real, though – hikes this beautiful are worth a little hassle!

Our Route

On the morning of our hike, we left our car on the side of the road by the Eagle Falls trailhead. This area is almost directly across the road from the Emerald Bay State Park lot.

While it costs $10 to leave your car in the state park lots, parking along the side of the road is free. We were surprised to see so many people doing this on such a narrow and hilly road, however the parking lots fill up very quickly and there are often no spaces left in them, leaving no other option.

After parking, we headed down to the lakeshore to access the trailhead. 

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

Cue: views on views on views! From the very beginning of the hike, the scenery was incredibly beautiful.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

While we started out on an overcast morning, the sunshine worked its way through. Before long, there was barely a cloud in the sky.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

You might also like: Hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys in Portugal’s Algarve Region

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

Upon arriving at the end of the trail at D.L. Bliss, we hiked to the park’s entrance to catch the #30 shuttle which took us back to Emerald Bay State Park. After enjoying some beautiful Emerald Bay and Fannette Island views, we walked the short distance back to our car.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
Back to our starting point: iconic Emerald Bay
Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

The Fine Print For A One-Way Hike

If you start at D.L. Bliss and end at Emerald Bay (shortly before reaching Vikingsholm), keep in mind you’ll have a steep ~1 mile walk back up to the parking lot in order to reach the shuttle stop. 

Conversely, if you start at Emerald Bay and end at D.L. Bliss, there’s an additional ~2.5 mile walk from the trailhead by Calawee Cove up to the park’s entrance to catch the shuttle.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
Walking from the trailhead to the park’s entrance to catch the shuttle

If you have a large enough group and multiple cars, you could consider leaving a car at each park; however, this will still require some extra walking on either end due to the trailheads not being located right by the road.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

As for the aforementioned tricky part of the shuttle: it simply doesn’t run very often. If your timing doesn’t work out, you may end up waiting by the side of the road for a while to catch the next one.

There are also times the shuttle may not run at all. There’s a small stretch of time from late June to early July where it runs daily. Aside from that, it runs from Friday through Monday or on Saturday and Sunday only.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
Waiting for the shuttle – not too shabby of a spot, really!

This might sound like a lot of planning for one hike, but don’t let the fine print deter you! As I mentioned above, there are plenty of ways to break up the hike – including walking a smaller section round trip – to make it easier logistically.

And in the end, our one-way route worked out really well!

We caught a bus about twenty minutes after we arrived at the shuttle stop. It was running a little late, but there is a set schedule you can plan from.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

Plus, our walk through D.L. Bliss to the park’s entrance was absolutely beautiful, if not slightly confusing at times for lack of signage.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail
A quick detour along the Lighthouse Trail before continuing to the park’s entrance and our shuttle ride
Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

We had so much fun hiking the Rubicon Trail. Whether you decide to walk the entire route both ways or tailor a smaller piece of it to suit your needs, it’s an amazing way to experience the varied terrain and gorgeous views Lake Tahoe has to offer.

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

Have you visited Lake Tahoe? How about the Rubicon Trail? Let me know in the comments below!

Pin it for later!

Lake Tahoe Rubicon Trail

I’m sharing this post to one of my favorite blog link-ups: the Faraway Files, with Fifi + HopHilary StyleOregon Girl Around the World, and Suitcases and Sandcastles. Follow the links to check out their sites!

You Might Also Like

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Tanja/The Red Phone Box travels
    January 10, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    gorgeous scenery #farawayfiles

  • Reply
    Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)
    January 14, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Wow Caity, this hike looks absolutely incredible! I’ve seen photos of Lake Tahoe before but hadn’t realised that it had beaches as amazing as this. I’d happily wait a bit longer for a shuttle if that’s the price to pay for doing such a beautiful walk. Thanks for inspiring me on #FarawayFiles

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.