Hiking around Lake Tahoe is a perfect opportunity to bring along your family. All of the best hiking trails near Lake Tahoe surround the picturesque lake, and can be hiked throughout the year, giving plenty of opportunity to see the beauty of California. Whether you want to hike an easy route, or you decide to take a more adventurous hike, there is a trail for everyone in the North and South Lake Tahoe regions. However, with so many trails to hike, it can be hard for new hikers to determine which hiking trail is best. The answer is simple: all of the trails. This article aims to outline the best hiking trails around Lake Tahoe that are suited for hikers of all ages and experience levels.
So why go hiking near Lake Tahoe? Besides being one of the most beautiful places in California, it’s also a bit of a hotspot for tourists and nature lovers alike. The trails found around this area are phenomenal, and are great hiking trails for whole families to enjoy. Many hikers have said that their kids, some as young as 6 or 7, have enjoyed hiking near Lake Tahoe. Whether you choose to hike the area around South Lake Tahoe, or you are more of a North Lake Tahoe kind of hiker, there are enough hiking trails with many different landmarks to choose from. From crystalline lakes to roaring waterfalls, stone flats to rocky crevasses, the Tahoe area has a little something for everyone.
Mount Tallac Trail
Mount Tallac Trail is a gorgeous hiking trail near the southern tip of Lake Tahoe. This trail is considered to be one of the more difficult trails in this region, but it is not any less enjoyable for people looking for a rigorous - but rewarding - hike. The Mount Tallac trail perfectly encompasses the beauty of California, and is a great spot for bird watching, camping, or just plain day hiking. The trail is a little over 10 miles long, so bring plenty of water.
This trail passes over various small mountain lakes, but the highlight of this trip is being able to see Lake Tahoe itself. Along with other mountain sights, it’s one of the best places to take a day hike. Though it’s considered a difficult trail, dogs are allowed to be walked on this trail, so long as they stay on the leash. The Mount Tallac trail is rated as the #1 for hiking trails near South Lake Tahoe.
Fallen Leaf Lake Trail
This trail is also located around South Lake Tahoe, and features a stunning view of a gorgeous lake, as well as an abundance of trees and wildlife. This is an 8.1 mile long trek that offers a moderate experience for new and experienced hikers, and is among the top hiking destinations for Lake Tahoe hikers. Besides the lake, you can also get a glimpse at the wildlife around Lake Tahoe, specifically birds and small animals. These sights, coupled with the quiet sounds of nature, make this a very enjoyable hike for lone hikers or groups.
The Fallen Leaf Trail has moderate traffic; during peak times of the year the path may get a bit busy, but on the whole it’s not a bad trail to hike. Dogs are also more than welcome to come on this trail. It’s a great experience for a family that loves to be outside. This is one of the best hiking trails near South Lake Tahoe, and for good reason; the stunning views coupled with the decent climb are well worth the sweat you’ll spend getting through this trail.
Rubicon Trail is a 22 mile long hike through the vast wilderness the South Lake Tahoe area. This trail is located west of Lake Tahoe itself, offering scenic views and a very pleasant, if lengthy hike. It features numerous small outcroppings, and ascends through hills to give a great view of the treeline. The Granite Bowl is a landmark that can be seen by walking this trail, a vast expanse of stone and sparse vegetation that is truly a sight to behold.
Rubicon trail is most famously known as a testing ground for Jeep models. Because of the rocky terrain and open spaces, it’s very popular for testing the limits of many Jeep and other 4-runner models. The obstacles presented on this trail are great exercise, though it’s not recommended for first time hikers.
Eagle Lake Trail
1.7 miles of trees, lakes, and wildlife is what makes up Eagle Lake trails perfect Lake Tahoe hiking experience. Hiking Lake Tahoe can sometimes be a difficult endeavor, but thankfully, Eagle Lake isn’t a strenuous climb. It’s a short, moderately trafficked trail that can be hiked by people of all ages and experience levels. While it isn’t an easy trail, first time hikers will find the moderate challenge of this hike to be an enjoyable one. This trail can also be used by dogs, but they must be leashed for the safety of all hikers on this trail.
The main feature of this hike is the lake; a gorgeous, crystal clear expanse of water that is most prominent between the months of May through October. Hiking this trail in the fall offers some of the most scenic views while hiking, and makes for a great birdwatching spot for avian enthusiasts.
Five Lakes Trail
Five Lakes is one of the best hiking trails in Lake Tahoe that features moderate to heavy traffic all through the hiking season. Situated in North Lake Tahoe, this 4.4 mile stretch of trail takes you through a winding forest path, and besides seeing the local wildlife, you are very likely to encounter horses. Horseback riding is a popular choice among hikers to get through this loop, but simply hiking it on foot offers a great exercise as well.
This trail loops around a beautiful lake, offering picturesque views all through the hiking season. Birdwatching is common here, as the large trees and the calm lake offer a safe haven for native birdlife to sit and rest. Other activities are available on this trail as well, depending on the season.
Shirley Lake Trail
This hiking trail located in North Lake Tahoe is a great hike for solo and group hikers. Families will love the easy to moderate climb, and everyone can enjoy the scenic views that this trail offers. Many hikers compare this trail to the likes of Yosemite National Park because it is such a gorgeous hike. There are a few areas of this hike that may offer some challenge to younger hikers, but on the whole it’s a great experience for everyone.
If you’re planning on hiking one of the best hikes in North Lake Tahoe, this is definitely a must stop for new and experienced hikers. This hike features bubbling creeks, small and moderately sized waterfalls, as well as opportunities for wildlife and bird watching.
Eagle Falls Trail
This is another one of North Lake Tahoe hiking trailsl, and is one of the most popular trails according to hiking enthusiasts. One of its defining features is, of course, the waterfall that defines this hiking trail, and it is a gorgeous place to take pictures or have a quick rest. It is a moderately trafficked trail that is defined as an easy to medium difficulty for hikers, so while experienced hikers may find this a walk in the park, new hikers will definitely get their workout.
It’s gorgeous year round, but if you want the most from your trip, hike this trail in the months between June and early to mid October. Besides being positively lovely in the fall, the hiking conditions are best in these months. Hiking this trail in winter is also an option, though there is the possibility of snow being piled up in certain places.
The best hikes around Lake Tahoe are ones that can be experienced with family. From the popular Eagle Lake trail to the quiet and serene Mount Tallac trail, there is a hiking trail that works for every hiker. The nature around Lake Tahoe is great for birdwatchers and casual hikers, and most trails will allow dogs to hike with you. Most trails on this list are best experienced in the late summer to early fall seasons, but some trails are open through the winter as well.
No matter where you decide to go hiking, the trails around Lake Tahoe are positively gorgeous, offering numerous opportunities for the whole family to experience nature. The various landmarks on each of these trails offer many photography opportunities. The hikes themselves range from easy, to moderately difficult, and most of these trails allow dogs to walk alongside you. Hikers both new and experienced can enjoy the scenery around Lake Tahoe, but be sure to bring plenty of water in the summer months so you don’t get dehydrated.