Are you looking to escape to nature on a fun-filled hiking getaway? Look no further than South Lake Tahoe! Filled with lush landscapes and over 200 hiking trails, you have endless opportunities to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. South Lake Tahoe hikes offer serene views, tucked into the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the border of California and Nevada. It is known for its crystal clear blue waters, beautiful sandy beaches, and stunning mountain vistas.
One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of South Lake Tahoe is by hiking and with over 200 trails in the area, there is something for every level of hiker. Whether you are a seasoned backpacker or a beginner looking for a scenic stroll, South Lake Tahoe has the perfect trail for you.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ve put together recommendations for the best hiking trails in South Lake Tahoe. From trail length, difficulty level, and what you can expect to see along the way, to great accommodation options. We’ll include it all to help you plan the best hiking trip.
So, grab your hiking boots and walking sticks, and get ready to explore the breathtaking scenery of South Lake Tahoe!
Hit The Trails
There are a full range of different hiking trails to choose from all throughout South Lake Tahoe. From easy to difficult, there are paths for everyone to follow.
Easy: If you’re looking for a relaxing stroll
- Eagle Falls Trail: This is a short and easy trail that leads to Eagle Falls, a beautiful waterfall in Emerald Bay. The hike is only 0.6 miles round trip and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lake.
- Cascade Falls Trail: This hike is slightly longer than the Eagle Falls Trail, at 1.5 miles round trip, but it’s still an easy hike suitable for all ages and skill levels. The trail leads to Cascade Falls, another beautiful waterfall in the area.
- Barn Trails to Cal Neva Loop: Located within the Van Sickle Bi-State Park, this loop takes on average around 1 hour 22 minutes to complete. This 2.9 mile walk takes you through areas of this popular park, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring.
- Spooner Lake Loop: This is a flat and easy loop trail that’s perfect for families with small children or anyone looking for a leisurely hike. The trail is just over 2 miles round trip and circles around Spooner Lake.
- Lam Watah Trail: This trail is an easy 2-mile round trip hike that starts at the Tallac Historic Site and ends at Baldwin Beach. The trail offers great views of the lake and is perfect for families with children or anyone looking for a relaxed hike.
Medium: If you want to break a sweat
- Glen Alpine Trail: The Glen Alpine Trail is a moderate hike that takes you to the stunning Glen Alpine Falls and past several alpine lakes. The trail is around 4.6 miles round trip and offers stunning views of the surrounding wilderness and mountains.
- Saddle to Ski Run Trail: Located within the Van Sickle Bi-State Park, this trail is just over 4 miles and takes on average around 1 hour 53 minutes to complete. This is a popular trail for hiking, mountain biking, and snowshoeing, but you can still enjoy a relaxed hike during quieter times of day. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas.
- Cal Neva Loop Via Van Sickle Trail: The Trail is a moderate hike that takes you through the forest and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and of course Lake Tahoe itself. The trail is around a 3.5 mile round trip, which starts out at the Heavenly Village gondolas, walking through the Van Sickle Bi-State Park gate entrance.
Difficult: For those seeking a challenge
- High Meadows to Cold Creek Trail: This 13 km loop trail near South Lake Tahoe is generally considered a challenging route, it takes an average of 3 h 52 min to complete. This is a very popular area for hiking, mountain biking, and running, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
- Mount Tallac Trail: This is one of the most popular hiking trails in South Lake Tahoe and is considered a strenuous hike. It is an 11.5-mile round trip with an elevation gain of over 3,500 feet. The trail leads to the summit of Mount Tallac, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
- Freel Peak Trail: This is the highest peak in the Lake Tahoe Basin and is considered a challenging hike. It is a 12-mile round trip with an elevation gain of over 3,300 feet. The trail leads to the summit of Freel Peak, which offers stunning views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountain range.
- Granite Chief Trail: Another difficult hike lasting around 10 miles, with an elevation gain of over 2,800 feet. The trail leads to the summit of Granite Chief, which offers panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area. You’ll definitely break a sweat but worth it for the views.
- Rubicon Trail: This is a challenging 17-mile round trip hike that follows the shoreline of Lake Tahoe. The trail offers stunning views of the lake and leads to secluded beaches and coves.
- Van Sickle Trail Connector: This is the longest trail within the Van Sickle Bi-State Park. This trail is around 8 miles long and takes on average 3 hours 45 minutes to complete. The trail is open all year long and is also a popular spot to go shoesnowing, so whenever you go, you’re bound to meet some fellow hikers on your travels. The trail also welcomes dogs, as long as your furry friend is on a leash.
- Dicks Peak Trail: This is a challenging hike that is 10 miles round trip with an elevation gain of over 3,500 feet. The trail leads to the summit of Dicks Peak, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountain range and Lake Tahoe.
- The Tahoe RIM Trail: The Tahoe RIM Trail is a famous 170-mile long-distance hiking trail that forms a loop around the Lake Tahoe Basin in the Sierra Nevada and ranges of Nevada and California. The trail has several outlets and connectors in South Lake Tahoe worth checking out.
Somewhere To Call Home After Your Hike
What will make your trip to South Lake Tahoe one to remember? The perfect South Lake Tahoe vacation rental – and one that exceeds all your expectations. From cozy cabins to luxurious homes with great amenities, you’re bound to find the perfect vacation rental for you and your family or friends. All our homes are tastefully decorated and fitted with state of the art kitchens to make you feel right at home.
For a group of friends looking for the VIP treatment, we have a gorgeous 6 bedroom home with a theater, game room, full bar and an outdoor hot tub. After a long day hiking, relax with a glass of wine on your private balcony boosting spectacular views, or soothe your muscles in your outdoor hot tub, sounds like paradise to us!
For those looking to bring along their furry friend, we have some great pet friendly vacation rentals available. No need to compromise on style as this pet-friendly cabin features 6 newly remodeled bedrooms and comes with a fully equipped kitchen, pool table and an outdoor hot tub. Your pet will have lots of room to roam with a private backyard patio, plus the nearby forests to explore.
After exploring hiking trails in South Lake Tahoe, come back and enjoy your trip from the comfort of your private vacation rental. With lots of options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect one to suit your taste and budget. Go and browse our selection of luxury South Lake Tahoe vacation rentals and start planning your trip today.
Commonly Asked Questions About Hiking in South Lake Tahoe
Some popular hiking trails in South Lake Tahoe include the Mount Tallac Trail, Eagle Falls Trail, and the Cascade Falls Trail.
When hiking in South Lake Tahoe, it’s important to come prepared with the right gear and supplies. This includes sturdy hiking shoes or boots, plenty of water, snacks, a map, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Perhaps a portable charger for your phone in case of emergency.
The best time to go hiking in South Lake Tahoe is during the summer months, from June to September. The weather is usually warm and dry, and the trails are generally snow-free. However, some trails are popular for snowshoeing if you want to hike during the winter months.
Yes, there are several companies that offer guided hiking tours in South Lake Tahoe. Some popular options include Tahoe Adventure Company and Tahoe Jack’s Adventure Authority.
Generally, no permits are required to hike in South Lake Tahoe. However, some trails may require a parking fee or a permit for overnight camping.