Explore 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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walking
21 hours ago

Beautiful view (I went mid-August) regardless of the weather. Doesn’t get much better than a day with no clouds and high 70 degree weather. Takes about 20 minutes at a slow walk to get to a view of south lake, and then a 15-20 minute slow walk without an incline that looks over Carnelian Bay. Great little walk for families and people who want a great selfie photo.

My wife said it reminded her of hiking in the Swiss Alps! Trails have pretty good footing (no rock scrambling or too much scree). Beautiful alpine views on the way up, not overly steep ( and most of the incline is near the beginning), and the small alpine lakes are in a small forest grove with more peaks overlooking them. We enjoyed a dip in the larger lake, and it was a fast easy hike down.

hiking
4 days ago

Popular trail with lots of hikers on the weekend. Beautiful views and pristine lakes that are well worth the climb.

hiking
5 days ago

Terrific hike with great views from the trail and the summit of Lake Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness peaks. The trail is easy to follow but quite dusty at times. The hike to the peak was easy compared to most Tahoe area peak climbs, but the descent includes a long uphill section that can be tiring. We took our time and still did the entire 6.7 mile hike in under 4 hours.

Beautiful hike with great vistas. Right now they are quite muted by smoke from all the fires. Some pretty steep sections would make me rate this a bit harder. Some sections are very open making it tougher on a warm day. If it’s going to be a hot day, suggest an early start.

hiking
11 days ago

Challenging hike even for the seasoned hikers. Definitely worthy of effort for the beautiful lake view at start, during and on top! Recommend poles for balance and safety coming down.

As others have said, this is a steep one! I wasn’t able too see much because of the smoke, but I imagine it’s a beautiful eyeful on a clear day. I actually thought the trail was quite easy to navigate most of the way up. By the time the trail begins to get vague you can see the summit block in front of you so just follow the path of least resistance. Word of warning, there are cairns EVERYWHERE, plenty of them leading you off trail, so have your wits about you and don’t blindly follow every one you see.

trail running
12 days ago

It's nice out there the scenery and everything, I was able find two of the lakes. Had to use my phone to find the others since you can see it on the map. I didn't bother at first and I got side tracked which let me down the trail to PCT. It's another nice trail but had to back tracked since I wanted to view all the lakes.

hiking
12 days ago

Very doable and fun for all ages! I recommend going onto the mountain top off to the side of the back lake, gives for a great view of Alpine Meadows on a clear day!

hiking
12 days ago

I stay at Squaw Valley a lot and this is one of my favorite hikes. it’s definitely tricky to follow in the beginning I’ve done this so many times, as well as going off on all the alternate trails, that I have a good sense of it now but it took a while. Key is to always veer to the right when you get to the first sign that says granite chief trail keep following to the right there’s several other trails that intersect that are not real trails just stick to the right and you’ll find it. all trails map helps a lot. once you get in a little over a mile some people have put yellowish orange paint in certain places to mark where the trail goes over the rocks as well as some cains. but again when in doubt follow towards the right and you’ll pick up the trail.
I encourage you to go beyond Granite chief onto the PCT it’s just incredibly beautiful with amazing views. I always take this left over to High camp so I can take the tram down. note if you do this it can be very tricky/scary to get to high camp there’s two options you can climb up the hill straight after you pass tervis cup trail then take the road down to high camp, adds some extra time. or you can veer to the left to take the very very small not well traveled trail but it will require a little bit of rock climbing and scrambling down. not for the faint of heart and actually potential for injury. but I’ve made it OK each time I’ve done it.
once you are at High camp there is a pool there’s also a restaurant there’s lots of outdoor seating and the tram runs down every 15 minutes it’s free if you hike up and tram down.

Awesome hike. Moderate (most elevation climb is in first half) and once you get to the lakes, so many options to explore other trails (PCT). We went at 7am on a Sunday morning and didn’t see a soul till we hit the lakes, where we saw 2 tents and a hammock camper. No mosquitos at all and we sat in the water for a good 30 minutes. Biggest lake is definitely the only one you could feasibly swim in - the others are very stagnant, shallow and murky. We continued on to join up with the PCT for a bit and then came back to get more mileage in. On the way back down, it was about 11am when we started the descent, the trail was PACKED with people coming up. Definitely don’t plan to start this hike after 9am I would say if you enjoy your space and solitude. Most of the people coming up were city slickers/tourists.

backpacking
17 days ago

The hike itself is moderate and the trails are well kept. There was a bit more traffic than expected but the scenery is as advertised, beautiful. What did disappoint was the fishing at the lakes, specifically Stoney Ridge Lake. We saw a few decent fish cruising the shoreline early and late in the day, but we only caught a single fish. It was a very nice 23” German Brown on a fly rod but we threw everything at this lake, spinning rods with flys, spinners, we caught minnows and used those as bait (0 caught) and even power bait and worms. Very disappointing considering we had our 8-yr old sons with us on their 1st backpacking trip ever. Fishing was much better at the smaller lakes with Rubicon Lake being loaded with Brookies (8-12”). Overall, if you don’t mind seeing other hikers and if fishing is not your thing, this is a good hike. 4/5 stars for worse than expected fishing

hiking
19 days ago

Nice out and back with beautiful scenery along the way. The majority of the trail is exposed so bring a hat, wear your sunblock and be mindful of the sun/heat during summer. The large lake is a great place to find shade, enjoy a lunch, and go for a swim. Heavily trafficked and well marked trail.

backpacking
19 days ago

Great hike for new backpackers. It was my 10yr old daughters 1st backpacking trip. Two other dads and their 11 & 9yr old sons with us. We stayed two nights at Five lakes. Great hike to get exposure to climbing with a pack, but not a long hike in. Camping sites are a bit hard to find with the 600ft limitation from the lake, but we found a great little spot. There aren't any fish in the lake, but kids had a great time casting, swimming, and jumping off rocks. We did a great out and back day hike up to the top of ridge overlooking Alpine Meadows, and Five Lakes (using the PCT trail heading south). Easy hike for the kids, gradual climb but nothing too steep. Great view, and good conversations with some PCT hikers. The lakes are busy during the day, but super quiet at night.

Great hike and scenic at the peak. Dusty trail but worth it.

19 days ago

Great trail! Steep rocky climb to top but worth it for the beautiful lake (the big one). Lots of open trail with sun exposure so bring sunscreen and a hat. We ate lunch and then swam before hiking back down. It was a Sunday so quite crowded but not bothersome since everyone is so friendly. We had an easy time parking despite lots of cars already there.

this trail was incredible! we were astonished at how many different terrains and environments we encountered on our hike. if you want to walk through meadows, alpine forests, rainforests, deserts, boulder fields, and mountain ridges all in the span of 4 hours, then this is the trail for you.

we hiked up granite chief trail, then hooked up with the pacific crest and walked down to high camp to take the tram down. it was definitely a long hike, especially with the elevation gain, but not overly technical or difficult. if you're okay with a steady uphill and you've got sturdy shoes, it's a really satisfying hike. i would recommend starting out early--we started around 10 and it was already pretty hot (until we got up to the PCT).

a lot of other reviewers mention that the trail is difficult to follow, and in some places i agree--there are a few stretches of boulders where the trail mostly disappears. when in doubt, keep going up the mountain (you'll find the trail again before you get lost) or check the alltrails map. there's great service all the way up and the app's trail is accurate. i would argue that the easiest place to get lost is at the very beginning--if you don't know what to look for, it's very easy to end up on the shirley canyon trail.

overall, this hike was amazing. it had great views and scenery all the way up. if you have enough food and water, you can hike the ridge all the way around the ski basin--the PCT links to a trail that will take you farther up. it's also nice having high camp there to refill water/get food/take the tram (for free!). if i were to recommend one tahoe hike to a visitor, this would be it!

hiking
21 days ago

What a great hike we had. the first two miles are basically uphill and get your elevation gain out of the way right off the bat. I only logged a 1100 ft change on two different programs so not sure about that 1500 ft. so anyway the top of the trail is nice and flat and comes out at the lakes. We looped around all the lakes which made it a nice 5 mile round trip. Trail was pretty busy. I would do this again. Beautiful lakes that you could actually swim in. Saw a lot of dogs on the trail.

hiking
21 days ago

Nice hike with some gorgeous views. The first and last stretches are pretty steep, and be prepared for a lengthy uphill on the return trip. With the elevation and altitude it felt like an advanced intermediate hike, though the mileage is not too great. I’d definitely recommend this hike. The drive to the trailhead is very pretty as well.

hiking
22 days ago

The hike was steep and therefore difficult. We went up to the top of the Rubicon. There were only very few people doing the hike. The hike path is marked with stones. And we went up to the peak. It’s a bit dangerous and getting there isn’t really marked because I guess it’s not a part of the hike. But we made it up there and enjoyed the view. It took us 6hrs up and down but we made a lot of stops. And the stops weren’t short.

hiking
22 days ago

This trail has amazing views of Lake Tahoe! It is a workout with the steep inclines going up but quick and easy going back down! Family and dog friendly. Quick hike / walk unless you stop and read all the signs with historical info about the lake or just sit and enjoy the view. Definitely a must! The trail head is marked with a green gate, parking is on the road next to it. There is a bathroom at top.

hiking
23 days ago

Great view of the lakes along the interpretive loop.

Absolutely wonderful mix of sun and shade and smells of pine with a swim in stony ridge lake to top it off. Mellow up and down. A new favorite.

hiking
24 days ago

Steep all the way up making it a perfect training trail. As good as it gets!

Awesome hike. Saw helicopter dropping water on nearby fire

Great hike! Beautiful scenery. The climb is strenuous but not hard. Our older Golden Retriever would not have been able to handle this hike. We didn’t see any dogs and we saw only a few kids on the trail. Bring a towel and maybe swimming gear - the lake at the end of the trail was gorgeous and looked really inviting.

hiking
24 days ago

That first .5 miles is a B*+%# to get up, but it’s not too terrible after that. Still a steep hike. A good portion is without shade so come with sunscreen, plenty of water, and maybe something with electrolytes. It’s mildly difficult, but totally worth the climb. The lakes are a nice temperature and so pretty!

I hike with my border collie and he was out like a light afterwards! And we only reached the first lake before we had to turn around and hike back. I highly recommend this hike for people looking for a challenge with an amazing reward at the top.

I probably should have said this first, but there are no bathrooms at the start of the trail. Use the gas station off the main road before the hike to be sure you won’t have an emergency midway through.

Quick easy walk, moderate climb to beautiful lake views. Fun markers describing history of area on loop.

hiking
29 days ago

Beautiful view!
Well marked, different site seeing, and fun facts along the way lots of fun.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this with my two sons as I was trying to get them outdoors. Beautiful views! They loved it!

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