Hiking South Lake Tahoe: Must-See Views and How to Find Them

Hiking South Lake Tahoe: Must-See Views and How to Find Them
4 min read

South Lake Tahoe, with its crystal-clear waters, towering pines, and breathtaking mountain vistas, is a hiker's paradise. Whether you're an experienced trekker or just someone who loves to soak in nature's beauty, the trails around South Lake Tahoe offer something for everyone. In this guide, we'll explore some of the must-see views in the area and provide tips on how to find these picturesque spots.

  1. Emerald Bay State Park

No hiking trip in South Lake Tahoe would be complete without a visit to Emerald Bay State Park. The park's crown jewel is the Vikingsholm Trail, a relatively easy 1.7-mile round trip that descends to the shores of Emerald Bay and the historic Vikingsholm Castle. The trail offers stunning views of the bay's turquoise waters against the backdrop of lush forests and granite cliffs. For those seeking a more challenging hike, the Rubicon Trail stretches 4.6 miles from Vikingsholm to D.L. Bliss State Park, offering breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada.

  1. Mount Tallac Trail

For the more adventurous hikers, the Mount Tallac Trail presents a rigorous but rewarding journey. This 10-mile round trip hike is strenuous, but the panoramic views from the summit at 9,735 feet are unparalleled. Along the way, you'll pass through meadows, cross streams, and navigate rocky terrain before reaching the top, where you'll be greeted with 360-degree views of Lake Tahoe, Desolation Wilderness, and beyond. The trailhead is located off Highway 89, near the Baldwin Beach entrance.

  1. Eagle Lake Trail

The Eagle Lake Trail offers a moderate hike that's perfect for families or those looking for a shorter outing. This 2-mile round trip trail starts at the Eagle Lake Trailhead, accessible from the Emerald Bay area on Highway 89. The trail climbs through a forested area before opening up to reveal the stunning Eagle Lake. Surrounded by granite cliffs and lush greenery, Eagle Lake is a serene spot for a picnic or a refreshing swim on a hot summer day.

  1. Fallen Leaf Lake Trail

For a quieter, less crowded experience, head to the Fallen Leaf Lake Trail. This easy 2.5-mile round trip hike takes you along the north shore of Fallen Leaf Lake, offering spectacular views of the lake and Mount Tallac. The trail is relatively flat, making it accessible for hikers of all levels. It's a great place to enjoy the tranquility of the forest and the beauty of the lake, especially during the fall when the aspen trees turn a brilliant yellow.

  1. Desolation Wilderness

For those willing to venture further, Desolation Wilderness provides some of the most striking landscapes in the South Lake Tahoe area. Permits are required for both day hikes and overnight trips, but the extra effort is well worth it. Trails like the one to Lake Aloha, a 12-mile round trip, offer a glimpse into the wilderness's rugged beauty, with crystal-clear alpine lakes, rocky outcrops, and sweeping vistas. Start your hike from the Echo Lakes trailhead to immerse yourself in the serenity and majesty of this protected area.


South Lake Tahoe's hiking trails are a testament to the natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada. Whether you're looking for a leisurely walk or a challenging trek, the trails around the lake offer access to some of the most stunning views in California. Remember to prepare adequately for your hikes, respect the natural environment, and leave no trace behind. Happy hiking, and prepare to be amazed by the breathtaking views of South Lake Tahoe!

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Miley Munroe 2
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