Best Easy Day Hikes Lake Tahoe  by Tracy Salcedo-Chourre

Best Easy Day Hikes: Lake Tahoe Guide Book

by Tracy Salcedo-Chourre (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Lake Tahoe  by Tracy Salcedo-Chourre
Best Easy Day Hikes Lake Tahoe includes concise descriptions and detailed maps of 27 of the premier easy day hikes in northern California’s most popular recreational destination. The hikes circle the lake, from the west shore to the east; from the slopes below Mount Rose to South Lake Tahoe. Whether you want spectacular Tahoe views, secluded rambles, alpine tarns, or journeys through historic resorts, you’ll find them in this guide. Discover the Tahoe basin’s natural wonders by dropping into Skunk Harbor, cruising to Galena Falls, climbing along the storied Tahoe Rim and Pacific Crest Trails, and catching your breath in secluded mountain meadows.

© 2015 Tracy Salcedo-Chourre/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Lake Tahoe" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 27.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 27.

Throw the suits and towels into the day pack and bring the kids: The Angora Lakes Trail is short, sweet, and lovely—the perfect introduction to the pleasures of hiking in the mountains around Lake Tahoe. A short romp up the Angora Lakes Resort access road, with just enough elevation gain to get your heart pumping, leads to the sandy shoreline of Upper Angora Lake. The setting is postcard-perfect, with the blue-green lake pooling in a basin at the base of the stark gray-and-black rock faces of Echo and Angora Peaks.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 1
This wander through the woods, through a state park with no hoopla—in fact, no facilities of any kind other than trails and markers—leads to a secluded meadow frequented by deer, ducks, and not a whole lot of humans. Burton Creek State Park, home to Antone Meadows and the preserve that protects it, is the shy sibling of the flashier state parks around Lake Tahoe. This is the park where you can come for quiet, where you can retreat for a long, peaceful walk in the woods. That doesn’t mean you’ll be entirely alone, however. The dirt roads that crisscross the pine and fir forest that sprawls west of the lakeshore are popular with mountain bikers, who may ride singly or in packs but are, without fail (at least thus far), friendly and easy to share the trails with.
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 6.1
A quick climb along a churning creek leads to the seductive expanse of Big Meadow, alive with wildflowers that change color with the seasons. The waterway becomes a meander among the grasses, where you are likely to find yourself alone with its chatter and the wind rustling the pines. Mountain meadows witness the passage of the seasons in magical ways. In springtime and early summer, wildflowers erupt in pockets of red, purple, pink, orange, blue, white, and yellow, and the grasses vibrate with butterflies and bees harvesting nectar. By late summer and autumn, the flowers have faded, but the grasses have absorbed the warm hues of the summer sun, glistening gold and rattling in the breezes. Even in winter, blanketed in thick snow, a mountain meadow is meditative and impressive.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2
Though the falls cascade out of sight, the views of Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe from the smooth granite slabs at trail’s end crown this moderate trek. Though not in view until the end of the trail, boisterous Cascade Creek spills out of the high country to fuel Cascade Falls and fill secluded Cascade Lake. The dark, still lake, cupped in a wooded bowl and surrounded by private property, is off-limits to hikers. The falls are off-limits too, rendered inaccessible by steep granite faces.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
Iconic Mount Tallac, which dominates nearly every South Lake Tahoe vista, is a powerful presence on this hike. Cathedral Lake, a peaceful tarn cupped in jumbled rock and thick-trunked evergreens, lies at the terminus of one of the 9,728-foot peak’s talus fields. The daunting rampart of Mount Tallac shadows every foot of the rustic trail to Cathedral Lake. Though the elevation gain is significant, the climbing is never painfully steep, and is mitigated by great views, shade, and a stop to rest and refuel (or turn around) at Floating Island Lake. The ultimate des- tination is Cathedral Lake, set in a talus-rimmed bowl near treeline on Tallac’s southeast flank.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.6
Dark and clear, Eagle Lake pools in a basin bordered by steep talus slopes and black-streaked rock walls. The lake’s classic high Sierra setting makes it one of the most popular destinations around Lake Tahoe.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
Climbing onto the ridge above Blackwood Canyon is, without question, not an easy undertaking. But the distance is short and the views from the top are a significant reward: Lake Tahoe lies broad and blue to the east, and the granite domes of the Desolation Wilderness shimmer to the west. Those with thighs of steel can continue to peaceful Ellis Lake.
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
The surprise of summertime at a ski area reveals beauty viewed through a different lens. And it requires effort: Slopes traversed easily when covered with snow require work when their rocky bases are revealed—and you have to hike up them as well as come down. The climb to Five Lakes offers access (not lift-served) to the slopes near Alpine Meadows, then mellows in the shady forest surrounding the first of the Five Lakes. Three distinct settings, and thus three distinct moods, lie along the trail to Five Lakes. The most arduous part of the trek is at the outset, where switchbacks climb through a sun-fed thicket of manzanita, mule ear, and snowberry. The second section features great views of the Alpine Meadows Ski Area, metal ski lift towers punched into smooth, colorful granite slabs, as well as an exposed traverse of a shallow granite-walled canyon.
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
A lovely stretch of the Tahoe Rim Trail traverses the base of Tamarack Peak to Galena Falls, a rocky spill at the head of a willowy valley sheltered by the pink slopes of Mount Rose. Mount Rose is an obvious hiker’s target. It is among the highest ramparts of the Carson Range and, with its neighbor Slide Mountain, is an iconic element of the Lake Tahoe basin’s north rim. But tucked away near the base of the mountain climb is another, easier goal: Galena Falls, a whitewater cascade about 50 feet high.
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
Walk in the footsteps (or ski tracks) of Olympic biathletes along this woodland loop, which follows gentle General Creek into Sugar Pine Point State Park’s backcountry. The General Creek Loop follows part of the route biathletes traversed in the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympic Games, offering hikers a chance to gain a new appreciation for (or sense of astonishment at) one of the oddest sporting events ever conceived. In the biathlon, cross-country skiing—exhausting even when you are not racing—is paired with marksmanship; speed and accuracy determine the winner. Hiking time: 3–3.5 hours station hours vary. Difficulty: Moderate is open from about 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Best seasons: Spring, summer. Other trail users: Mountain biking brochure available at the campers, trail runners. Trail amenities: Restrooms, online water, camping, and information available.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.7
Though the native Washoe were the first to enjoy the springs at what would become known as Glen Alpine Springs Resort, it was Nathan Gilmore, prospector and cofounder of the Sierra Club, who would turn the area into Lake Tahoe’s first bona fide upscale getaway. This easy walk up a forest road paved in river stones leads to the remnants of the resort.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
Lake Tahoe’s natural history is juxtaposed with its human history on this pleasant meander, which begins with an exploration of the Taylor Creek Marsh and ends among the spectacular vacation homes of turn-of-the-twentieth-century tycoons.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2
Lake Tahoe gets all the glory, but this satellite lake, also deep and blue, is traced by an interpretive trail that shines a spotlight on both the spectacular setting and the remarkable, disturbing history of the infamous Donner Pass.
Truckee, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
Follow trail and boardwalk through meadows and stands of Jeffrey pine from Stateline’s busy casino district to Lake Tahoe’s sprawling Nevada Beach. Linking the busy casinos of Stateline with Tahoe’s shoreline at Nevada Beach, the Lam Watah Trail traverses swatches of meadow and open pine woodland, a wide and gentle walk-and-talk route perfect for a sunset stroll or a short family hike. Though the route never wanders far from civilization— houses are visible along Kahle Road at the outset and the towers of the casinos and the Heavenly Valley gondola rise against the mountain front on the return—the essence of the trail is in the woods and the meadows. Wildflowers light the grasses in spring, and the trees provide shade and a distinctive windblown song played only in the high country.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.3
Wildlife abounds around Martis Creek, thriving in the biggest expanse of meadow and marshland in the Tahoe area. The birds dominate, chirping, flitting, and soaring over the landscape. Whether you love birds or not, an exploration of the enormous grassland is a heavenly hiking experience. Willow-lined Martis Creek cuts a sinuous path through acres of wetland meadow southeast of Truckee, carving deep into the turf, its branches watering a springtime bloom of wildflowers and providing sustenance for a variety of creatures. The birds are most prominent, their songs loud enough to be heard over the hum of cars passing on the nearby highway. Songbirds flit from willow to rose to thatch of grass in flashes of brown, black, red, yellow, and sometimes vivid blue; watch for raptors stilling in the clear mountain air and swallows shooting in and out of the highway underpass. Fish, amphibians, and mammals large and small also call the Martis Creek Wildlife Area home.
Truckee, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
This leg of the famous Pacific Crest Trail stretches from the exposed granite slabs that border Lower Echo Lake to the forested shore of the Upper Echo Lake. The hiking is easy and the views arc north into the craggy silver heights of the Desolation Wilderness.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
A favorite hike of Tahoe locals and visitors alike, Page Meadows hosts one of the best wildflower blooms in the basin. It greens up after the snow melts, glows with color by late June, and remains a restful, scenic destination through the rest of the hiking season. A steady climb on the Tahoe Rim Trail leads to the meadows. High-country wildflower displays are generally modest, with clusters of flowers erupting in patches among verdant meadow grasses. The blooms of Page Meadows, situated above Ward Valley at nearly 7,000 feet, are no exception. The brilliant mule ears, with their bright-yellow sunflower-like blooms, and the tall white umbrellas of cow parsnip border on flamboyance.
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.2
The Taylor Creek Stream Profile Chamber is the main attraction along this charming and popular paved path, but there’s more to recommend the Rainbow Trail, including vistas across the marsh surrounding Taylor Creek, bowers of quaking aspen, and comprehensive interpretive signage.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.6
A lovely trail leads through wildflower-filled meadows and woodlands to the shoreline of an arm of Stampede Reservoir. This gentle ramble leads through meadowlands alongside Sagehen Creek to a remote arm of the Stampede Reservoir. The trail is flat and straightforward, with plenty of wildflowers in season and wonderful views across the reservoir year-round. Begin by rambling along the creek side, avoiding the side paths leading to the right, down to the stream. Willows and small aspen crowd the path. Bend to the northeast and the creek drainage widens, skunk cabbage growing amid grasses in the gentle valley.
Truckee, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.7
Take a quick stroll along the boardwalk at Sand Harbor and indulge in unimpeded views across Lake Tahoe. The path also hooks around rocky shoreline coves, and interpretive signs describe some of the components that make the lake’s environment beautiful and unique. The loop is perfect for families. Fees and permits: Day-use fee. Schedule: The park is open from 8 Special considerations: The a.m. to 9 p.m. daily from Memorial trail is wheelchair accessible. Day to Labor Day. From May 1 to The parking lots fill by mid-morning Memorial day, restricting to Sept 30, hours are from 8 a.m. access to the park and trail. The to 7 p.m. From Oct 1 to Apr 30, Tahoe Transportation District runs a shuttle between Sand Harbor hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Maps: USGS Marlette Lake NV, and Incline Village daily during but no map is needed.
Incline Village, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4