Big Meadows Trail to Dardanelles Lake is a 7 mile out and back trail located near South Lake Tahoe, CA that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from March until September.
Directions from South Lake Tahoe: Take Highway 50 southwest to Highway 89. Go south on 89 to the Big Meadows parking lot on the left. Follow the trail at the lower end of the parking lot approximately 200 yards, where it intersects with the highway. Cross the highway cautiously and look for the trailhead signboard.
There are three lakes after big meadows. Dardanelle, round lake and I think the third was Scotts lake. All of them are around 3.7 miles from the trail head. Round lake has a huge wall of rock on the east side and the lake and the lake used to be a murky gray but this last hike It was very clear and I was told there are fish in it again. If you keep going south around the lake there are trails to an old settlement but I'm told it is easier to go from Carson pass on 88 to the settlement. Dardanelle lake is my favorite hike in the sierras so far. The lake is pristine and beautiful. I've see camps on the western side during the summer many times!
This is a great hike but the first 2 miles (from the Big Meadow trailhead is a continuous uphill climb and definitely not "easy". It's challenging the first 2.5 miles until you get to the switchback down. It's ip and down from that point - a little longer and tougher than the route to Round Lake. You cross the creek via stepping stones 3x and it's a great break for the dogs! The lake is lovely but I think around Lake is the most beautiful of the three (Scott, Round and Dardanelles). The turnoff to the lake is almost hidden - marked by a small stack of rocks - but for the dogs, I would have missed it! The last leg takes you over some rock face and then the lake appears! Gorgeous lake! But I'd rather hang out at around Lake. It's crystal blue and a bit shorter hike. My "map your hike" app had it at 8 miles round trip! Bring lots of water and a hat! Super fun!
Enjoyable hike with lots of nice wildflowers. My mapping app said it was a bit longer 8.8 miles round trip. Be sure to be aware and watch for the last turn off the trail there is no marker only a pile of rocks. Beautiful lake! Oh and bring bug spray.