Lake Tahoe Hiking Trails Guide

Lake Tahoe is a haven for hikers. Glacier-carved granite cliffs protrude from mountainsides blanketed with towering Pine and Fir and Spruce trees that spiral towards the heavens. Alpine meadows engulfed in wildflowers in the spring and summer paint the perfect portrait of Mother Nature’s sheer beauty.

Whether you’re an avid hiker or a novice, you’ll discover a hiking trail in Lake Tahoe that’s suitable for your skill level. Whether you’re looking to trek through Desolation Wilderness in South Lake Tahoe, or you’re careening towards Mount Rose’s vertical and rocky terrain, for a chance to glimpse the looming view of nearby Reno and the resplendent lake waters, there’s something for everyone here. If you're planning to tackle more than just Tahoe's hikes, use our complete Lake Tahoe travel guide to put together the perfect itinerary. 

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Mount Rose: North Lake Tahoe

The hike up Mount Rose in North Lake Tahoe is epic. It’s 10 miles (16 km) there-and-back of stunning wilderness and the abundant beauty of Mother Nature. This hike starts at one of the highest elevations. You’ll begin at 8,900 feet (2,712 meters) and climb to 10,776 feet (3,284 meters), and looms over Reno and the resplendent waters of stunning Lake Tahoe.

You’ll discover this hike off Highway 431. At the peak of this trail, you’ll discover spellbinding views that seemingly stretch on forever. From Reno and Carson City to Sparks, Boca and the Tahoe Basin, you’ll see it all in full glory. From Alpine forest at the basin up towards sharp and jagged cliffs with protruding granite rocks, the steep elevation changes in this trail make it one of the more difficult ones to climb.

Mount Tallac: South Lake Tahoe

Somewhere between Emerald Bay and Camp Richardson, you’ll discover the trailhead that leads you to the day-long hike up Mount Tallac. This 9.5 mile (15.2 km) there-and-back of trails provides awe-inspiring views of the Alpine forests and Desolation Wilderness. Gaze out towards the sparkling azure-hued waters of Lake Tahoe in this fairly intense hike.

You can pick up a free permit for the hike in the Desolation Wilderness area. On your way to the trailhead, you’ll find a well-signed road after you turn onto Mount Tallac Road. Captivating views at the top reveal Emerald Bay in all its glory along with Cascade and Fallen Leaf Lakes. You’ll be mesmerized as the scenery changes from the Tahoe Lake Basin up towards granite cliffs and ridges at an elevation gain of 3,500 feet (1,066 meters) at the peak of the hike from its base.

Echo Lake to Ralston Lake: South Lake Tahoe

The Echo Lake to Ralston Lake trail in South Lake Tahoe sits between two peaks. The Echo Peak and the Ralston Peak tower above with the water resting majestically in the valley between. This provides incredible terrain through the Desolation Wilderness for hiking of approximately 6.5 miles (10.4 km) of Alpine forest and glacier-carved granite cliffs.

The hike is moderate. You’ll climb approximately 1,200 feet (365.7 meters) during the jaunt. Close to the topic, you’ll enjoy epic views, not only of the two lakes, but also of Lake Tahoe’s shimmering blue waters in the distance. You’ll find the trailhead located near Spooner Summit parking lot just off Highway 50.

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Eagle Falls & Eagle Lake Trail: South Lake Tahoe

Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake Trail is located in South Lake Tahoe. Just look for Vikingsholm Castle in Emerald Bay and simply follow the road into Desolation Wilderness from there towards Eagle Falls Trailhead. The hike is mild. That might be why it’s popular. It’s a 2 mile (3.2 km) round trip scenic beauty that includes sweeping views of sparkling Emerald Bay.

From this trail, you can discover additional hiking. Venture off towards Desolation Wilderness. Or, stay on the not-so-straight-and-narrow trail towards Eagle Falls and back down to Vikingsholm Castle on the beach. It’s a truly epic hike with breathtaking views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and deep-hued resplendent waters of Lake Tahoe.

Spooner to Marlette Lake: Glenbrook

This hike is located close to Sand Harbor along the northeastern coast of Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada side. Marlette Lake offers a heavenly reprieve into the Alpine forests and glacier-carved granite cliffs that engulf the area. Blue skies and the warmth of the summer sun offers the perfect backdrop for a hike that originates at Spooner Lake.

In total, you’ll trek 9.5 miles (15.2 km) round trip, to and fro. Look for the parking lot at Spooner Lake and locate the North Canyon Trail, which offers a gradual incline of a meer 1,200 feet (365.7 meters). Marlette is ideal for picnics, especially during the warm summer months. You’ll also enjoy blissful panoramic views of Lake Tahoe near the top.

Lola Montez Lakes Trail: North Lake Tahoe

Popular with mountain bikers, the Lola Montez Lakes trail in North Lake Tahoe is a great hike if you’re simply looking for an arduous trek through the woods. However, don’t expect any commanding views of Lake Tahoe from this hiking trail. Still, you will get to enjoy Mother Nature at its finest along with babbling creeks and granite cliffs and deep Alpine forests along the way.

This hike is roughly 6.5 miles (10.4 km) with approximately 2,300 feet (701 meters) gained in elevation along the way. The Lola Montez Lake is great for swimming, especially in the summer. Although you won’t see any of Lake Tahoe, you will enjoy blissful views of Lola Montez Lake. To access this trail, you’ll take the Soda Springs exit from Highway 80. There’s a paved road that you can find on the northern end of the freeway after the fire station.

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Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Trail: North Lake Tahoe

If you’re looking for a less arduous and much less stressful hike, then the Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Trail in North Lake Tahoe is for you. You can find this trail in Incline Village off Highway 431 at the 28/431 interchange. You’ll head up the hill towards the summit where you’ll see signs directing you toward the trail.

You won’t have much of an incline on this trail, but you’ll start at a higher elevation at around 8,740 feet (2,663 meters) and the entire journey is roughly 1.2 miles round trip. Not very much when you compare it some of the other hikes and trails you can find in the Lake Tahoe area.

Rubicon Trail: West Shore

The Rubicon Trail on Lake Tahoe’s west shore follows the shoreline of the lake. It’s one of the only trails to do so. While easy, it is long. On the way, engulf the senses in captivating views of the shimmering lake waters. Winding along the shore, you’ll also discover coves along the way for swimming. Cool off in the crystal-clear waters during those sun-soaked summer days.

There’s not much of a change in elevation on this hike. You’ll start at 6,240 feet (1,901 meters) and go up to 6,624 feet (2,018 meters). The route is 12.3 miles (19.7 km) and it rounds around Emerald Bay and up through D.L. Bliss State Park. You can find the trailhead at the southern end of the Emerald Bay Boat-In Campground.

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