Top 10 Hiking And Trekking Spots In South Lake Tahoe, California

hiking in south lake tahoe

Nature lovers from all across the world share one thing in common – their passion for hiking to scenic locations and getting lost in the arms of Mother Nature. Such exotic locations are scarce in today’s world, and dedicated travelers go to great lengths to explore each one of them. In California, South Lake Tahoe is one such place that is entirely worth mentioning and makes it to the list of many passionate trekkers, owing to the place’s serene beauty and calming effect. A few of the best trails are found surrounding this area. Plan a trip to these hiking and trekking spots in South Lake Tahoe, California as they just cannot be missed.

1. Fallen Leaf Lake

Fallen Leaf Lake
Source: Photo by user Jonathan Cook-Fisher used under CC BY 2.0

Fallen Leaf Lake is like a heaven on earth for swimmers or water-lovers. You can also enjoy the excellent trails with an easy walk, a trail run, or a strenuous hike. There are numerous hiking spots in this area; depending on what you want to experience you can choose the trail. Most trails are easy, but if you want to challenge yourself, you might have to drive a few miles on the Fallen Leaf Road and park your vehicle close to the fire station. After a few hundred yards towards the Angora Ridge on the Angora Lake trail, you will find a mesmerizing view of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe.

Fallen Leaf Lake

Address: South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States

Website: Fallen Leaf Lake

2. Van Sickle Bi-State Park

View of Lake Tahoe
Source: Photo by user Vanessa Vancour used under CC BY 2.0

As one of the most accessible parks near Lake Tahoe, this park welcomes trekkers and cyclists in full vigour, and the scenery that awaits them is quite easily breathtaking. From the South Lake Tahoe casino, you can walk up the trailhead. These 3.6 miles (5.7 kilometers) takes about 20 to 30 minutes at an average pace. After 10 minutes of the hike, it becomes a little steeper, but worth the efforts. You will be able to see Mt. Tallac, Edgewood Tahoe golf course, and the South Lake Tahoe casinos. Proceed further to continue beyond the fantastic waterfall and reach the head of The Tahoe Rim Trail. This is where this trail ends.

Van Sickle Bi-State Park

Address: 30 Lake Pkwy, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States

Website: Van Sickle Bi-State Park

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

3. Tahoe Mountain Loop Trail Head

Mountain Trail
Source: Pixabay

This trail presents spectacular views at their finest. A person who loves challenges and looks them in the eye would enjoy this beautiful trail. It’s a smooth ride with a steep slope on one side that overlooks diverse vegetation. Little rocky sections adorn the path and visitors can set up camps near them as they prove to be effective seating areas. It’s rated as one of the best mountain trails in California. The 7.6-mile (12.2 kilometers) trail loop has mesmerizing wildflowers while bird-watching is also of keen interest for many visitors. The wildlife is moderately diverse and the mountain biking scene has been a rage for quite some time. As the area is vast, you may rarely find other hikers; hence every visitor can enjoy their privacy. Overall, it is a must-visit for serenity lovers!

Tahoe Mountain Loop Trail Head

Address: 03204001, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States

4. Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls Trail
Source: Photo by user Ben Myers used under CC BY 2.5

Cascade Falls Trail is known to be one of the best hikes in the Emerald Bay area. This round-trip 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) hike from Bayview Campground has the natural beauty that mesmerizes every visitor. The trail takes you to the top of the 200-foot (60.9 meters) waterfall, providing a breathtaking view of Lake Tahoe and Cascade Lake. The waterfall is becoming just as famous as its other counterparts as it provides relief from the heat waves of the day. The trail is public and does not require any special permit. The path is a rocky but an otherwise easy one. You need to have sturdy hiking shoes for comfortable hiking.

Cascade Falls Trail

Address: 138 Emerald Bay Rd South Lake Tahoe, California 96150

Website: Cascade Falls Trail

5. Balancing Rock Nature Trail

Balancing Rock
Source: Pixabay

Granite rules the terrain here. Balancing Rock Nature Trail is located in D.L Bliss State Park and houses rock sculptures like no other. The path is down-faced and a bit steep with a little creek at the end. The visitors especially love this part as it’s like a smaller version of Lake Tahoe itself. As the trail offers an amazingly spectacular view of rocks above and below, people who are remotely interested in textures or architecture surely visit this place. The trees mostly include ferns and pine trees which are moderate in height. Overall, this would be a good experience!

Balancing Rock Nature Trail

Address: 01706110, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States

Website: Balancing Rock Nature Trail

6. Bayview Trailhead

Seen in the marsh on the Bayview Trail at Mason Neck (14316101036)
Source: Photo by user vastateparksstaff used under CC BY 2.0

This trail is credited as a difficult one but is surely rewarding. This trail leads to Granite Lake first and then to Miggie’s Peak. This 5-mile (8 kilometers) trail is challenging, hence you should be an experienced climber for this trail. Most of the times you have to hike a long distance to get the gist of the entire place. This is what makes Bayview different. An utmost serene view of wilderness and vegetation can be enjoyed from ground level itself without having to hike up great slopes and hills.

Bayview Trailhead

Address: Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States

Website: Bayview Trailhead

7. Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail Scott Mountains
Source: Photo by user Mkauffmann used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Pacific Crest Trail is a forest paradise for nature lovers. This is a long hiking trail that is very close to the highest portion of Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges that stretches for up to 150 miles (260 kilometers). The trail is about 2,650 miles (4,265 kilometers), going from Mexico to Canada that passes through numerous national parks and forests, where diversity is seen at its best. It avoids the surrounding civilization and the city traffic, bringing you closer to the heart of wilderness. During the spring season, hikers are seen in hoards and the area is bustling with activity. There are specific re-supply points situated, stretching across the trail and handing out refreshments to the hikers and trekkers. For this hike, make sure you find all the relevant information while planning.

Pacific Crest Trail

Website: Pacific Crest Trail

8. Desolation Wilderness

Aloha Lake, Desolation Wilderness, Lake Tahoe, CA. July 2017. (35805600972)
Source: Photo by user Jeff P used under CC BY 2.0

This is the place where wonderment rules. Desolation Wilderness is a place with intense elevation and depression points. This is one of the most widely used wilderness trails in the entire country. For adventure lovers, there are some incidences of mountain lions in the area so you have to be extra careful. There are many paths to choose from. You can select from a 1-day hike to a hike of 2 to 13 days. You can choose from sitting by a campfire to going for a mountain biking. Come in a group of 12 or more people and have a gala time in the lap of the nature. You need to avail permits that are available throughout the year.

Desolation Wilderness

Address: 138 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States

Website: Desolation Wilderness

9. Washoe Meadows State Park

Washoe Meadows State Park hiking is opened throughout the year. During the summer, enjoy the hike through the park. In winter, you can enjoy cross-country skiing. The terrain is moist because of the Upper Truckee River and Angora Creek. This trail is about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) long and has hard-packed sand as well. The views from the park are serene and include glimpses of Freel Peak, Mount Tallac, and some other points. Cinema buffs will be glad to know that some famous Hollywood movies were shot here. Overall, it is an enhancing experience amidst nature!

Washoe Meadows State Park

Address: Sawmill Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States

Website: Washoe Meadows State Park

10. Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay
Source: Photo by user Michael used under CC BY 2.0

Emerald Bay State Park is a paradise of vistas and hiking trails. This park is located about 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) from Lake Tahoe. There are many hiking trails in this area; you can witness some of the best and unique views of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. Consider the Vikingsholm Trail, as this would tick off getting Emerald Bay views from your bucket list. The trail leads you downhill to the shore of the lake and opens up both the breathtaking views of Vikingsholm Castle and Lake Tahoe. Hike and enjoy nature without any automobile interference. This is quite an effective way to relish nature’s rare treats!

Emerald Bay State Park

Address: 138 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, United States

Website: Emerald Bay State Park

Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (daily)

The best hikes in South Lake Tahoe

The places mentioned above are a must-go as they are entirely worth the trip, even if it is from halfway across the world. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your seats on the next plane to California and prepare to see these amazing places firsthand!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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A Wellness Coach by profession, a Writer by Passion, and a Fitness Enthusiast by Choice. Always looking for new opportunities to share his knowledge and wisdom by helping more and more people to...Read more

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