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Awesome views of the lake on the whole trail. Leads down to a beach.

Great little hike, decent incline with a beautiful, clear blue lake at the end. Bring a picnic! Get here early or go mid week as it gets crowded and parking can be difficult. Make sure to park legally, they will tow you. Trail is marked well but the trails that link up from this trail can be hard to spot.

There is much to enjoy here year-round, but Winter and early Spring months are when you can get out your snowshoes, mountaineering gear, and/or skis and take advantage of this snowy wonderland. If you get a Snow Park pass (definitely get one of these, by the way - I believe California limits how much the pass-issuer will cost you, so they're not bad at $25.00 or so) you will have an excellent parking lot next to the trail. This gives you access to a paradise for Winter sports enthusiasts.

After 10am or so, I find that the parking lot exponentially fills up. Get there as early as you can.

Round Top Peak and other geological features, like Elephant Back (which is aptly named), tower above the relatively flat surroundings, this gives you the freedom to cross country and explore around. Kirkwood, CA and the Mokelumne Wilderness are known for high levels of precipitation. I was here recently (mid-April) and it is still dumped on. Be courteous and follow "snow etiquette and traditions", in other words don't be like me and trample parts of ski tracks and get called out for it. Duh!

Cool hike especially if you are getting ready for longer trips. I went to the top on 4/13/18 and the last rain had washed away the previous footprints towards the top so having a gps made it a lot easier to follow. While following my footsteps out I found some bear prints next to mine that weren’t there during the hike up.

hiking
11 days ago

Did this trail starting at Emerald Bay above Vikingsholm. Ample parking available ($5) fee if starting from this lot; an 0.5 mile walk down a wide road brings you to the Rubicon "trailhead." Additional parking available at nearby Eagle Falls Trailhead.

Having completed a number of short, snowy treks, I wanted to complete my Tahoe trip with a longer hike without crowds. On a Tuesday in April with sketchy, remarkably windy weather, there were few people on the Rubicon trail. The crowds thinned out substantially, opting to explore the Vikingsholm area or head up to Lower Eagle Falls. Some remained at the viewpoint near the parking lot.

Rubicon Trail runs parallel to the shoreline of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. At first, the trail periodically switches between singletrack and wide, with sporadic sections of gravel dotting the path. This continues until the Emerald Bay Campground. From there, the trail is primarily singletrack and adopts a more rugged demeanor. Though it's a mostly flat trail, there are intermittent sections of elevation gain and decrease. The heart of the trail seldom ventures more than 20 feet above the shoreline.

If any landscape can be considered objectively beautiful, this is it. Even on a cloudy day with fierce winds, Lake Tahoe retained its aquamarine hue with exceptionally clear water. Patches of snow along the shore contributed a unique wintry essence. Though the views of Lake Tahoe are vast and lack the immediate punch of a waterfall or alpine lake-and-mountain, it provides perhaps the most serene area in Tahoe. There are some small sandy strips and rugged shoreline access that allow calming breaks from hiking.

As of 4/10, there's sparse snow on the trail, mainly on the western portion of the trail. The Emerald Bay area is devoid of snow. There is snow/ice on narrow portions of the trail, however, that require some care to pass. It's completely doable in hiking boots or running shoes. Some (very) minor seasonal flooding and streams appear on the trail infrequently; this should clear up by the summer months.

If hiking from the D.L Bliss Trailhead (North), either hike through Lower Eagle Falls or don't bother with the Emerald Bay section at all. The Rubicon trail is ironically the least scenic in Emerald Bay, as some forest cover and wide paths detract from the trail's beauty. In short, there's little to see that isn't visible in the western portion of the trail. Lower Eagle Falls, however, is powerful and serves as an impactful reward to a tranquil hike. If you make it to Vikingsholm, there's no reason to not continue up to the falls.

Rubicon Trail offers the premier coastal hike on Lake Tahoe. It can be mixed with the nearby alpine Eagle Lake, paired with Cascade Falls, or culminated with a seasonal cruise to complete a full Tahoe day. Regardless of the weather, it's difficult to go wrong with this trail, and should be seen as a safe winter/spring alternative to more questionable conditions.

hiking
13 days ago

Ample parking available, fee and permit required (both supplied at trailhead). Lot filled up by mid-morning on a Sunday in early April, so arrive early, especially in the summer.

As of 4/8, the falls are at peak flow. The trail up to Vista point and the Eagle Creek Bridge is mostly clear of snow. Past the upper falls, the trail is ~90% covered in snow, but easily followable due to heavy traffic. Snowshoeing is an option, but it's entirely doable in hiking boots and trekking poles.

The lake is still frozen over with some flowing water near the Eastern tip of the lake. Snow covers the surrounding bowl and peaks, while the Eagle Lake Trail continues up (to Dicks Lake) through snow and ice. We turned back after reaching the lake despite our initial plan to ascend to vista point at 7,300; snowshoes would help that climb.

Though the waterfall was great and the gorges remarkably powerful, the trail was travelled and lacked the Tahoe backcountry feel. It's a great opportunity (especially when the snow melts) for families, dogs, etc. to visit an alpine lake, but full-day hikers should look elsewhere. Nearby Dicks/Fontanillis Lakes, Lake Aloha via Ralston Peak, or Tallac via Gilmore Lake are quality alternatives.

Keep in mind that the trailhead is near Lower Eagle Falls, Vikingsholm, Emerald Bay, and Cascade Falls. Pairing this hike with nearby landmarks would make for a full day.

walking
13 days ago

Lovely loop walk, currently still covered in snow so wear good shoes!

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)!

snowshoeing
17 days ago

Absolutely beautiful trail! We tried it out last weekend (beginning on April) and brought snowshoes. I don’t think you necessarily NEED snowshoes but I think it made it a lot easier and more fun because we were sliding around or falling into the slush. This trail is dog friendly and my dog had a BLAST. The views on the way to the lake are breathtaking, and getting to the lake was so gorgeous. My dog got to swim around a bit and it was just a 3-ish mile hike round-trip. There are a few parts that have slight incline but overall it was a pretty mellow hike. I will definitely be back!

hiking
17 days ago

Did this from Spring Creek trailhead via North East ridge.. which is half the mileage(~5 miles round-trip) and same elevation(~3.3-3.5K), so a lot harder, but totally worth every step. Had a very clear/sunny day and had to wear snowshoes all along.

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
27 days ago

One of the best hiking spot in the Tahoe area. The last couple miles before reaching the summit kicks ass forreals. The view is definitely worth it though. Hiked this 3x.

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.

on Rubicon Trail

1 month ago

Amazing trails. Beautiful view

High return on investment in this short hike to a beautiful lake. Right now there’s a lot of packed snow and some ice on the second half of the trail. Micro spikes were helpful.

This was a nice hike with a variety of terrain: quiet wooded trail (North/Northwest), steep and rocky (West), and paved road along nice cabins (South/Southeast). As others have noted it can be hard to follow in places. Specifically about half way around the West side we lost the trail and you eventually find a paved road going past the firehouse and other cabins. Also about half way around the East side you leave the road and walk through some private property to again find the trail. It’s really helpful to have an offline map downloaded on your phone to stay on track.

There was a little bit of packed snow and ice in places but otherwise conditions were very good.

This is the second time I have been on the trail. Two days ago the weather was perfect but yesterday it warmed up and the snow melted and turned to ice. The entire trail was icy and dangerous. We made it there and back and still had fun but just a warning to be careful after warm days!

Still beautiful and would do again!

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.

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

hiking
2 months ago

I loved everything about this trail. It's right behind Emerald Bay and you can view the Vikingsholm at the bottom. The drive alone was worth it. The trail was easily accessible even with the snow. It lead to Eagle Lake which was entirely frozen over. The trip took about an 1.5 hrs, and we took our time and made a few stops! Really enjoyed this trail and would love to do it again.

backpacking
2 months ago

Great backpacking trip! Although trail is hard to find at times! Beautiful at top!

Super awesome hike!!! A little snowy at the bottom but clears up pretty quick! Great view at the top!

I think the instructions for accessing the trail may be wrong. The map shows you should start about a mile past the CalTrans station, in a parking lot that is inaccessible in winter. Looked beautiful though!

hiking
2 months ago

At the moment, this trail is snow-covered almost the entire way up. But the snow is firm enough that we were able to make it all the way to the lakes in regular hiking boots. Highly recommend making it to Upper Angora Lake, which I think is prettier than Lower.

I'm not sure I would love the hike without the snow because it is mostly paved road, but the snow made it lovely (and a good workout!) when I went yesterday.

hiking
2 months ago

Such a beautiful and tranquil place! It took me 1.5hrs to hike 2mi. Not because it was difficult- by any means- but, because I kept stopping to soak in the beauty of the environment! Listening to dogs splash in the water, ducks quacking, birds chirping, dip my toes in the cold lake water and filled my lungs with fresh mountain air! It was amazing. Not too many people, either. The trail itself was all parts snowy, muddy, dry, contained puddles, etc. I did this hike in tights and hiking shoes. Definitely recommend if you want to have quiet day hike.

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.

snowshoeing
2 months ago

I went around the lake on 1/28/18. I was hopeful about the snow from a couple days prior but had to take my snowshoes off after about 10 minutes. There’s not enough snow for them to be necessary. This lake is a gem, you don’t have to hike long before seeing amazing views! Definitely recommend!

Now that Tahoe finally has snow, decided to check this trail out and what a view! For the fairly tame profile and duration, this trail has some incredible view starting with the now frozen / snowed over Winnemucca lake (this route is direct to the mountain, 4th of july as an optional detour on the return though we made it on the way out) and then of Round Top and the Sisters at the end. Lots of great powder currently making for a fun day even on snowshoes (but they are a must) and certainly a great one on skis. The view from the saddle below the summit is incredible with Pyramid Peak, Freel, and the south Sierras all visible. We didn't push up for the true summit but the rocks of the upper mountain look like a fun reason to return.

hiking
2 months ago

This was a beautiful and fairly easy trail. Most of the beginning is uphill, with lots of stone steps that are covered in icy snow right now. We got lucky because the trail was fairly easy to see even though it had just snowed the day before. The lake is completely frozen over right now, so it’s definitely a beautiful sight. Would highly recommend!

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