Explore lake tahoe - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
10 hours ago

We did this on our honeymoon, I was in a car accident about a month before and had back injuries so I couldn't do anything crazy but this was perfect and beautiful!

Nice easy hike, as with all hikes in this area it can get busy on weekends and during the summer. Don’t be surprised to see people hiking in flip flops. You do walk over large boulders so finding the trail in this section can be a little tricky, especially if there’s snow on the ground. Beautiful view of Cascade Lake and side view of Cascade Falls.

Nice lake views at the beginning. Had to manage walking on snow in mid April.

hiking
11 days ago

Bayview Campground closed for season, reopening in late May. Parking available at Inspiration Point and just off Highway 89. Walk through Bayview Campground adds 0.3 miles to the route; it's blanketed in packed snow as of 4/9.

Having seen Cascade Lake dotted with surrounding snow from Highway 89, I wanted to photograph it from the west (rather than north or northeast). I hadn't yet done a sunset hike in Tahoe and, even though the trail's orientation is geared towards a sunrise, Cascade Falls seemed like an inviting trek. Its short distance and negligible elevation allowed me to get on the trail less than an hour before sunset.

The first portion of the trail goes through Bayview Campground, at least during the winter. Even with the recent warm rainfall and prevalent sunlight, an icy blanket of snow covers the campground, aided by the wooded surroundings. This should mostly melt by May. I saw cross-country skiers in the campground, a concerning premonition as I expected the trail to be mostly snow-free. The path winds its way through a covered forest, easily discernible as footprints are firmly indented in the snow.

The first half of the hike is uneventful without views. However, the trail presently narrows and the landscape opens, ascending sharply up a snow-covered rock. This provides the first view of Cascade Lake. The trail narrows further along the rock face, protruding rocks and steps aiding icy footing until the trail becomes relatively exposed. As of 4/9, there's little snow remaining on the latter section of the trail; the snow/ice that remains is easily passable with hiking boots.

As the trail approaches the falls, it gradually disappears into the rocky landscape. You're free to find a route to an optimal viewpoint. There's no single "best" outlook- there are multiple, some of which offer a view of Cascade Lake primarily, others which allow you to view the falls from a side, and one or two that provide both. In the summertime, trailblazing to Snow Lake seems like an inviting full-day endeavor.

This trail provides arguably the best view-to-effort ratio of any trail in Tahoe. There are two main attractions: a Cascade Lake view just off the trail at 0.6 miles, and Cascade Falls itself. Especially during the waking or waning hours of the day, Cascade Lake is unbelievably vivid and the roaring falls somehow serene. A less crowded alternative to Eagle Lake, the Cascade Falls Trail is a wonderful opportunity to spend a 30-60 minute slot.

Keep in mind that, even though this is called "Cascade Falls Trail," there's never a head-on view of the falls as with Glen Alpine, Eagle, or Horsetail Falls. That aside, it's a great winter/spring trek with unrivaled views of Cascade Lake with the calming atmosphere a roaring waterfall provides.

hiking
12 days ago

Road conditions up to the official trailhead are questionable; no snow removal during the winter months. Parking is available both at trailhead (currently closed) and alongside the road. Ice and snow remain on last 0.5 miles of road as of 4/9.

As others have stated, the trail begins on a rocky path. The rocks are cobble rather than pebbles or boulders. After warm rainfall and above-freezing spring temperatures, this trail was flooded under ~6 inches of water for a short section. Waterproof boots worked well. After Lily Lake, the trail is a mixture of cobble and paved, wide enough for an ATV but not quite a 4x4 trail. The immediate surroundings are poor compared to other Tahoe hikes.

Since there was significant snow accumulation over 7,000 feet, I turned back at Glen Alpine Falls rather than heading up to Grass Lake. Others have noted there's little to see after the falls. I didn't travel far enough to verify this, but based on satellite and heatmap, this seems correct. Assuming you park before the Lower Glen Alpine Falls, located right past the fire station, there are three main attractions.

The first is Lower Glen Alpine Falls, which can be reached by car and is a popular tourist attraction. Some call it the most popular waterfall in Tahoe (debatable, since Lower Eagle Falls commands attention). The second is Lily Lake, a swamp-like flooded basin that beautifully reflects Echo Peak. Lastly, the true Glen Alpine Falls, around 0.5 miles up the trail, is a rushing fall at the base of Tallac. Beyond that, there's Grass Lake an additional two miles further.

Even though the waterfalls are beautiful and Mount Tallac is always a surreal sight, this trail is little more than a decent outing. Paved portions and operational cabins/houses detract from the backcountry feel. Similarly, the two-mile section of relative uninterest combined with a wide track falter when compared to vicinity hikes, especially Aloha and Ralston. Keep in mind that I didn't hike the full trail, though, so take this review with a grain of salt.

on Bassi Falls

hiking
13 days ago

Great hike, even with the younger kiddos. Still quite a bit of snow on the ground, but in patches. The falls were amazing. So happy we made it out there.

hiking
14 days ago

Permit required to enter Desolation Wilderness (last 1/3 section of hike), parking available at trailhead during open season. As of 4/7, the trailhead is closed, and parking must be found elsewhere; there are some spots just off the highway to park.

After a deluge of rain powerful enough to trigger flood warnings for Tahoe and Yosemite, a waterfall hike seemed optimal. Paired with snowmelt from March storms, the American River was nearly flooding on the drive up from Sacramento. The highway was thankfully unaffected. There were multiple waterfalls active along the drive up, ranging from Bridal Veil Falls (El Dorado) to rushing redwood streams.

This rain managed to wash away a good portion of the snow below 8,000 feet. On the Pyramid Creek Trail, there were intermittent patches of snow between long sections of granite rock. At this point in the season, snowshoeing isn't an option, crampons won't do much, and hiking poles aren't required. However, the route up to Horsetail Falls in the latter third section of the hike isn't established, as snow covered the path for most of the season. We turned around before the waterfall due to both flooding and weather.

On 4/7, the water level was high enough to flood sections of forest and force us off the trail. The Cascades were incredible; the sheer force of the water was the greatest I've seen in Tahoe. Leading up to Horsetail Falls, the redwood forest was flooded by a seasonal stream pouring down from Peak 8141. Some route finding and stream crossings were required. This shouldn't be an issue in the summer months, but waterproof boots are always prudent.

For photography, there are four points of interest: the bend of highway 50 (rocky waterfall), Cascade Viewpoint, Desolation Wilderness Boundary (small waterfalls), and Horsetail Falls itself. Long exposure opportunities are prevalent and decent, while the immediate surroundings aren't as photogenic (still beautiful to the naked eye)!

Fantastic views over Lake Tahoe.

Have hiked this a couple of times; went today and it is totally snowed in so snow shoes are a must. Last time I hiked it in the snow it was Spring Time so just enough melted off to where it was passable in hiking boots. Be prepared for a weird parking situation until the trail officially opens!

hiking
1 month ago

beautiful views, got a little warm in February! Love the calming sound of the falls.

hiking
1 month ago

I will admit, we didn’t get the ascend part right, we were sort of all over the place! But what a great place to get lost. Appropriate hiking boots and an open mind are a must. The whole surroundings look like a painting, it’s so surreal.
Best advice: look for trail markers like stacked rocks, treaded paths and other giveaways because you could be easily deterred every 500 feet or so if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. The nice thing is, because you’re in a bowl like setting, you know which way is back to the start.
What a reward, though, when the waterfall is at full blast! Amazing experience and highly recommended.

1 month ago

I love this hike! although we went yesterday and all I can say is bring your snowshoes! guess we've got wait a couple of months to enjoy again.

Great loop route with spectacular westerly views of Lake Tahoe. We hiked through approximately 6” of fresh snow which was fine. Beautiful forest.

Did this yesterday, 2/18/2018. The trail starts off slow along the stream. Then at the base of the waterfall there's not much of a trail, go your own way, It's a rock scramble up the side of the waterfall. Not too difficult, but very fun. Then you reach the first lake/pond. There was snow up at this elevation. Great views of the valley, Pyramid Peak, and Ralston Peak.

The way down though... huge pain scrambling down the waterfall. I got stuck twice where I had to then scramble back up about 100' the come down a different route. I tried coming down literally along the waterfall. Bad idea. I suggest going over to the waterfall for some photos, but then go lateral back away from the waterfall. Dont try going down the waterfall.

Completed on 2/18/18. Used microspikes for a little more than half of the hike, snowshoes for about the last quarter mile. Saw many people without spikes or snowshoes that were hiking so doable just harder. Great views at the top.

Great for climbers (once you get to the rock). Short & perfect hike. Enjoy the view at the end!

hiking
2 months ago

Short steep walk with a great view at the top! It’s a paved trail that allows dogs. You can see the lake the whole time. Beautiful!

Beautiful views! But the trail is fairly easy to lose.

hiking
2 months ago

Great day up at Castle Rock, 2/10/18. Minimal snow and ice on trail, but really no need for yak tracks. A dozen other people hiking the trail. View is always amazing. Got a little windy, so wear a hat. When you get to Castle Rock stay high to right to see the lake view :)

Close to accommodations, easy access and decent parking. No big elevation change, so it is good for the first hikes to help acclimate at this altitude. Spectacular scenery, trails well maintained but slippery at times. Not crowded. Great for dogs! Great for photography!

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful hike with incredible views of the lake the entire way. Would definitely recommend it! Went during first week of February and the trail was snow covered but easily walkable in regular hiking boots (though notably this was after a week of no snow and 50 degree temps). Note that you have to turn off the main road and drive an additional 1+ mile to get to the actual trail head- would need all wheel drive to do this, at least during the winter. Otherwise can park in the lot right off the paved road and walk to the trail head. You have to have a Sno-Park permit to park there between November and May. This can be purchased at nearby gas stations or online and print in advance ($5 for day pass).

hiking
2 months ago

Loved this hike! Pretty easy but a great hike. lots of different terrains. The falls are fabulous!

hiking
2 months ago

This was beautiful hike but I sure wish I had done it in spring. There was alot of snow and we kept losing the trail. We are experienced hikers and to so often lose the trail was frustrating. we had to keep pulling out the GPS.
The falls were amazing and parts of the hike was challenging for sure a good workout and breath taking views. strange it was right off the freeway. will do this one again with no snow.

Absolutely amazing❣️
One of my favorite local trails.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing Trail here one of my favorites so far!!

snowshoeing
2 months ago

I chose this trail and location for my first foray into snowshoe backpack winter camping.
Before I describe the trip and trail I will leave a word of caution: don’t park at the trailhead anywhere during the winter months. You will get “snow towed.“ I did!
Despite that headache, I had an awesome time blazing Pristine trails through 8 inches of fresh powder, which had just dropped the preceding week prior to my Saturday morning trip.
Despite being obscured by the snow, the trail was easy to follow and AllTrails map is spot on.
Gorgeous winter-scape and views. See pics.

Beautiful hike not to bad of an elevation gain

hiking
3 months ago

There is no access to the parking lot until April so park on the side of Ice House Rd. and walk the rest of the way up to the trail access. A friend and I did this hike on Wednesday morning/afternoon in January and we did not encounter any other hikers along the way. It is really easy to get lost but there are trail markers on the trees on the way up. However, there are not as many trail markers on the way back so I highly recommend downloading the offline map. Easy hike with gorgeous views. will be back in the summer for a swim.

Great hike beautiful view.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike once we were on the path but it is hard to find the path.

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