During our three days in Lake Tahoe, it felt like each hike we went on was more beautiful than the last.
In reality, they were all equally stunning in their own way. It would be hard to choose a favorite! More than anything else, I was continuously surprised at the varied landscape and diversity of options. Whether you’re looking for a full-day challenge or a short break to stretch your legs, you’ll easily find the perfect trail.
Keep scrolling for five amazing Lake Tahoe hikes.
Cascade Falls Trail
This short hike gives you two-for-one lake views of both Cascade Lake in the foreground and Lake Tahoe just beyond. The falls were actually dry when we were there, but the hike was still beautiful.
The trail is clear at first but widens and becomes less obvious as you near the falls, making it a little tricky to determine the end point. (I imagine it would be easier with actual falls to aim for!) Friendly fellow hikers helped us on our way.
There’s not much elevation change on this hike and it’s less than two miles round trip, so it’s a great option for something short and sweet. There is a little rock scrambling to be done by the falls, so make sure you’re wearing sturdy shoes.
We spent the majority of our first full day on the lake hiking the Rubicon Trail. I wrote a detailed post about it here.
If you only have time for one hike on the lake I would recommend this one, even if you can only manage a section of it. Visit my post above for all of the details you’ll need to plan your trek!
Eagle Falls Trail
This is another short but sweet hike. It’s a quick walk up to the falls from the parking area. These falls were dry as well (it was that time of year!) but the views again made up for it.
This was such a peaceful way to start our day before heading to our next hostel in North Lake Tahoe.
From Eagle Falls, you can continue on to Eagle Lake and other destinations in the federally protected Desolation Wilderness.
Dolder Nature Trail
You’ll find the Dolder Nature Trail at another one of the lake’s beautiful state parks: Sugar Pine Point.
This flat, meandering loop offers lake views and plenty of forest shade. The towering trees covered in bright green moss and blankets of honey-colored pine cones made for a pretty magical setting.
You might also like: Hiking Lake Tahoe’s Rubicon Trail
Also worthwhile here is the Lakefront Interpretive Trail, a quarter-mile walk along the water. I’d recommend spending some time on the edge of the large dock here. It’s a great place to observe the lake’s famously clear water.
Stateline Fire Tower Lookout Trail
When we arrived at our hostel in Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe, we had some time to kill before checking in. I opened Google Maps on my phone and noticed a nearby icon for the “Historic Stateline Fire Lookout.” It looked like there was a trail leading up to it, so we decided to give it a try.
It was a little tricky to find the trailhead. Navigating to our original destination of “Historic Stateline Fire Lookout” led to a dead end road in the vicinity of the lookout. Make sure you enter “Trail Head for Stateline Lookout” instead and it will guide you to the actual path.
And in case that doesn’t work, here’s how we got there:
- Follow State Route 28 E out of Kings Beach. You’ll cross the state line into Nevada and drive by a few casinos.
- Turn left onto Reservoir Road. If you’re coming from the other direction, it will be a right onto Reservoir.
- Turn right onto Lakeview Avenue.
- When you come to a Y in the road, veer left to stay on Lakeview.
- As you approach another Y in the road, pull over and park (you may see a few other cars here).
- You should now see Lookout Road, with a large green gate, veering off to the left.
You made it!
Now for the trail itself. It’s paved the entire way, so it’s more accessible than the other hikes on this list. It’s also very easy to follow…or so you would think! Partway up the path we came to a forest trail leading up and to the right. A blog post I quickly scanned mentioned you could either follow the paved road or take a detour along the forest path. Always a fan of the scenic route, I advocated for the path.
As it turns out, we didn’t head down the same path that was mentioned in the blog post. Before long it became clear we were no longer approaching the lookout. The trail was pretty, but we had no idea where we were.
Luckily, we ran into a local walking his dog. He confirmed that we weren’t approaching the lookout but advised that if we kept going, turned right and continued uphill, we’d reach even better views from a higher vantage point. We were both hesitant, thinking we might just get lost again. But we went for it, climbing up and up, until we reached an unbelievably beautiful lookout, as promised.
A bonus: no one else was up there! I guess that will happen when you get yourself lost on an unmarked trail and follow the advice of a local. They always know best!
After soaking up the sunshine and views for a few minutes, we headed back down the hill. Once we reached the paved road again, we turned right to check out the actual lookout…and stuck to the road this time!
When you reach the top of the hill, there’s a circular loop with informational signs. While the solitude of our first lookout was pretty special, the views from the lookout are beautiful too. Definitely worth the short climb!
Plus, how often do you start a hike in one state and end up in another?
Hiking is a great way to get to know Lake Tahoe. From trails leading directly along the clear, teal water to rocky, uphill climbs offering bird’s eye views, you’ll be able to experience this stunning mountain setting from every angle.
What’s the most beautiful hike you’ve been on lately? Let me know in the Comments below!
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