Hiking & Camping

6 Must-do Hikes in Lake Tahoe for All Levels of Hikers

Tim Gillespie
January 16, 2024

A long sought-after vacation destination, Lake Tahoe’s sparkling blue waters and fantastic mountain scenery continuously exceed the expectations of those who come to visit. From lake adventures in the summer, to scenic foliage drives in autumn, and world-class skiing in the winter, Lake Tahoe welcomes outdoor enthusiasts all-year-round. Discover sandy shores tucked away in tiny coves, boulder-strewn summits, and vast fields of wildflowers on these must-do hikes.

Lake Tahoe, hiking viewpoint

Monkey Rock; easy

Located on Tahoe’s East Shore near the town of Incline Village, this 2.6-mile out and back trail is a gradual climb up to one of the more impressive overlooks of Lake Tahoe. This trail’s short distance and great viewpoint make it one of the more popular trails, so do not expect to find much solitude. When you reach the granite boulders at the top, keep an eye out for the trail’s namesake rock formation.

Camping Tips: A Beginners Guide to their First Trip

Eagle Lake; easy to moderate

Located in the heart of Desolation Wilderness, this 4-mile out and back trail is well marked and can be quite popular, especially on the weekends. The trail passes by waterfalls and underneath towering granite peaks as it leads to the lake. Eagle Lake rests in a glacial cirque at the base of North Maggies Peak, which can be accessed by connecting another trail to the summit. Whether you plan to hike further or not, be sure to take a swim in the chilly waters and enjoy a picnic on the lakeshore. A wilderness permit is required, which can be obtained at the Eagle Falls/Eagle Lake trailhead.

Five Lakes Trail; moderate

Located to the north of Lake Tahoe, this 5-mile out and back trail travels through pine forests and fields of wildflowers making its way to alpine lakes nestled in the foothills of the Granite Chief Wilderness. Though the trail is mostly uphill, there is nothing too steep, and the extra effort is worth the tranquil settings you’ll find at the lakes. Enjoy a swim, set up a picnic on the shore, or cast a line and hook a fish. Whatever you choose, you’ll find yourself at peace.

Lake Tahoe swimming hole, hiking California
Enjoying hidden coves for a swim on Lake Tahoe hiking trails

Rubicon Trail; moderate

Located in the southwest corner of Tahoe, this is one of the only trails that navigates the shoreline of Lake Tahoe. The entire trail is upwards to 12-miles, though it can be broken down into portions. The 5-mile section of the hike that connects D.L. Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay is considered the most scenic, and the most heavily trafficked. Along the way, there are numerous coves to stop at for a mid-hike swim.    

Tamarack Peak Loop; moderate

This 6-mile loop trail offers up expansive views of beautiful meadows and the Tahoe Basin as it encircles the base of Tamarack Peak. At the halfway point there is a magnificent waterfall that serves as a great place to have lunch and take a rest. If you want to add onto this hike you can opt to climb up to the summit, though keep in mind that there is not a maintained trail.

Mount Rose; challenging

If you are interested in tackling one of the higher peaks in the Lake Tahoe region, then Mount Rose is your best option. This 10-mile loop trail includes waterfalls, alpine meadows full of wildflowers, and rocky peaks offering picturesque views. Standing at 10,776-feet, snow patches are often found on this trail, especially after a decent winter season. On a clear day, you should be able to see Reno from the summit.

lake tahoe hiking, California
Snow capped peaks hovering over Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is an iconic destination for those looking to explore the mountains and lakes of California and Nevada. These hikes are best in the warmer months from June through October, before the winter snows arrive and after the snow patches have cleared the trails in late spring. Please remember to respect wildlife and other fellow travelers when out experiencing nature, and enjoy your adventure.  

After visiting Lake Tahoe be sure to explore some other hiking destinations around San Francisco.

Interested in discovering other parks in California, read our article on The Top 14 Best Parks to Visit in California.

For more hiking adventures don’t forget to check out Under30experiences hiking trips.

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Tim Gillespie
Tim is U30X's Thailand Manager & Community Builder, and has been living, traveling and accumulating experiences in SE Asia since 2009. He loves being in the outdoors, immersing himself in local cultures, and tasting exotic foods.


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