Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Tahoe National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Love this trail into Round Lake from Carr lake. The drive is tough up to Carr for the last couple miles. But the hike in is easy and beautiful. Round Lake is kind of secluded and hidden from the wind. A great place to base camp and explore from.

This trail will be GREAT in about a month. It’s got great elevation gain and beautiful views, but you can hear the freeway for much of the hike. When I went in early May and there was enough snow that I started to post hole in places. Once my feet got cold and wet I turned around. I would definitely try this hike again when it’s not covered in snow.

backpacking
7 days ago

Tough trail in parts with steeper climbs and downed trees, but worth it for beautiful views of the American River.

My favorite place!

hiking
9 days ago

Nice walk up to the first snowfields, but had trouble finding the trail. Trust the footprints in the snow to keep you on track. Got as far as the first lake, but the snow started to get rotten and we turned back to avoid post holing. Only saw a couple other hikers.

hiking
11 days ago

Fantastic hike as always. Still a few feet of snow beyond the railroad (as of May 5, 2018), but getting up to the first lake is entirely doable in waterproof shoes or boots.

Did this trail as an extra mileage add-on to an overnight trip on the Halls Ranch trail. I went about 2 miles beyond the junction of the two trails. The path was nice, consisting of relatively moderate grades along the ridge once the initial climb from the trail head is endured. The first part is relatively shadeless among manzanita, but that soon gives way to taller pines. There are some nice spots to see the surrounding ridges and also the canyon of North Fork of the Yuba River below.

backpacking
26 days ago

I did this as a solo overnight backpacking trip to test new gear for an upcoming long distance trip (JMT) in the summer. 2800 up and 1200 down on day 1, 1600 up and 3300 down on day 2 (including side trip on Fiddle Creek Ridge Trail). On this April day, I started encountering snow around 4000 and found significant coverage at 4300.

Trail started at Highway 49 rising 1500 feet up over several switchbacks to the top Fiddle Creek Ridge. From there one can get a view of the surrounding mountains. Continuing on, I went 500 foot down to Fiddle Creek. There is no bridge here, and early spring runoff prevented any rock hopping. I crossed in my water shoes with no issues, about 18 inches deep. Next, up the hill 700 feet to about the 4300 foot elevation. Started to see snow, but after a short level section the trail went down again 600 feet to Little Fiddle Creek and another creek crossing (shorter crossing but slightly deeper). Then up again 600 feet to the snowline, which was encountered right after the single track trail transitioned to fire road. I did not want to trudge through the snow, so I found a camp spot on a section of old fire road, just off the main trail. Next morning I went back the other direction, crossing two creeks and back up to the main ridge. I decided to travel along a couple miles of the Fiddle Creek Ridge trail in order to increase the total mileage of the trip.

What I liked: I enjoyed the lack of people on the trail. A dirt biker passed me on day 1, and didn't see anyone else until noon the next day when I crossed paths with a small group of day hikers.

Things I didn't like: There were a few vistas but overall less scenery than some of the higher Sierra trails. Also a lack of suitable camping locations. I didn't find anything easily accessible by the creeks. The best spot was on a ridge at 4100 feet near the end of the trail, and was not near any water.

This trail would be suitable for an early season trip when the higher elevations are still snowed in.

Great hike. Still a lot of snow to trek through.

backpacking
1 month ago

Our family has enjoyed this both as a day-hike and as an overnight.

Went on an overnight out and back backpacking trip, camping about 7 miles in, near a creek crossing on Deadwood Ridge. The trail was definitely challenging but had no other redeeming qualities, other than a nice creek to rest at early on the trail. The trail is well shaded, but because of that there are few opportunities for good views. The trail was well graded and appreciated at first, but I found it to be monotonous after crossing El Dorado Creek, relentlessly marching up the side of the mountain. In addition, the trail going up towards the ridge was very narrow. There were few places to take a break. On the ridge, there were few good places to camp. I would not recommend the place I camped (creek crossing along ridge), I was running out of daylight. If I had more time I would have backed up a half mile and camped at the water pump. If you want to camp closer to the trailhead, there is at least one good spot (probably more) along El Dorado Creek.

I did not encounter any bears on my trip. That was a good thing because I forgot to put all my food in the bear canister. The food was not touched.

Some folks have mentioned parking issues but I had no problems parking at the end of the pavement, about 0.2 mile before the trailhead.

This trail is best for trail runners. Lots of elevation change and consistent grades. If I was trail running I would rate it 4 stars. I would not recommend for backpacking except as an early season shake-out.

This listing is pretty mislabeled. This is a part of the Western States Trail and this portion should be labeled Michigan Bluff to Last Chance. Since you are going in and out of 2 canyons I would also label as Hard. Especially if you're backpacking and have a pretty heavy pack.
Here are some things we learned: There is no parking next to the trail head. We parked next to the old cemetery and the Michigan Bluff monument. We left our car for 3 days and it seemed fine. We talked to some locals when we got back to our car. They thought we were just going out and let us know about several locals recently losing dogs to mountain lions.
BRING BEAR SPRAY. It is also a good idea to have a bear bell and make plenty of noise on the trial. We saw a lot of trail runners out so the trail is well traveled. You will also do a lot of stream crossing depending on how much it has rained recently and how much snow is still melting.
Trail breakdown: 2.5 miles in is entirely downhill and takes you to the first bridge and river. Almost 6 miles from the trail head and just before Deadwood Cemetery you will find a decent place to camp. For an even better place to camp and a little more walking, head on to an established spot between Deadwood and Devil's Thumb. There is a great area with a picnic bench and water pump with potable water (if we had gotten an earlier start on day one we would have camped here). Ditch your pack at the water pump to lighten your load and make your way to Devil's Thumb. A closer look shows that it is not one big rock but many rocks. Head down the canyon from Devil's Thumb to get to the swinging bridge. Lots of switchbacks but the pay off is worth it.
What we did:
Day one: hiked in and camped right before Deadwood.
Day two: packed up and ditched packs at Deadwood. Made way to water pump and filled up. Hiked all the way down to the swinging bridge and had lunch. Made our way out of the canyon back to our belongings. We then hiked down to Eldorado Canyon (aka 2.5 miles from trail head) and made our camp near river in an established spot.
Day three: hiked out.
Things I wish I had known:
-how steep the trail was
-the amount of mountain lion and bear activity in the area
-how bad the ticks are
-the different points of entry for the trail and the relative location of established camping spots
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I know this review is long, but I'm hoping it helps someone who is looking at this trail.

This is one of my most favorite trails. I always go counterclockwise. Be mindful of the time of year you're going - because it crosses through Sugarbowl, you'll need an Uphill pass to stay on the trail during ski season.

As others have mentioned, trail is a little hard to follow at first. look for footprints in the snow and cairns. Lots of ice on the trail, recommend yaktrax. Snow is deeper after the foot bridge. I turned around just below the first lake as the trail disappeared and I began postholing to my knees, snowshoes would be helpful here. Fairly strenuous trail and good views along the way. Dog loved it and I was the only one there on a Tuesday.

Warning! In order to cross Sugar Bowl terrain during their ski season, a uphill pass is required. Even with an uphill pass, only some uphill routes are approved and unfortunately this is not one of them. I ran into a ski patrol while attempting this trail and was turned around. They told me to visit Sugarbowl.com and read the uphill policy for more information.

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing Trail here one of my favorites so far!!

snowshoeing
3 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous! Park right off the highway as the road to the trail head is narrow and there is no closer parking. Trail was easy to follow the tracks until it crossed the ski runs.

snowshoeing
3 months ago

We did this backpacking on snowshoes over 2.5 days - could have been two.
On the way in we followed this trail, and on the way back we went up the ridge route from the south-end of Paradise Lake.
The semi-frozen swamp with the invisible four-wheel drive trail at the end was the 'downside' of this trail for snowshoeing - at least on our trip. We were on top of the trail according to the GPS, but I have no idea where it was. At the end of a long day, that was the biggest downer of the trip - wet freezing boots and leaping creeks with a pack and snowshoes on :/ I recommend getting to the Paradise Lake sign early, and taking your time with route finding to skirt the swamp.
The ridge trail out, our ' I am not doing that again reroute', was beautiful, but also very hard work on snowshoes! It is a lovely area, and once away from the highway noise, a peaceful winter trip with the option to stop by the Peter Grubb Hut for a little Sierra history.

This time of year the PCT underpass is a knee-high frigid drain! Walking under the highway on the road shoulder from the SnowPark was much better on the way back.
Also note, for overnight trips you are required to park at the SnowPark, so remember to get a permit.

snowshoeing
3 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

snowshoeing
3 months ago

It’s a good hike , very moderate- not to hard . Views are great.

You can’t go wrong with a trip here. Fun to get too from both trails.

off road driving
4 months ago

Fairly easy trail when dry. Views are absolutely stunning. Great family fun. View from Lookout Point is breathtaking. Would definitely go again. Loved it.

Great hike! This area is beautiful

hiking
4 months ago

Nice hike. Some of the trail could be marked a little clearer. This one had enjoyable views and the dog enjoyed the water. The drive up to the trailhead is steep so drive slow!

Almost missed the trailhead as its named something else, a connector (I'll post the picture). heads up pretty quick and it's like a rocky dry creek bed the bends around through the trendline until it breaks out along the ridge. amazing views!! gets pretty steep toward the end of the Sardine Lakes section. But the views.......

on Five Lakes Trail

hiking
4 months ago

Although there were a few spots I wished I had yakttax on, this was a wonderful hike. I was amazed by the frozen lake with a snowman built on it. The views are spectacular.

horseback riding
4 months ago

Beautiful views and had it all to ourselves. Creek is gorgeous! It’s single track with sharp switch backs and pockets of rock scree on steep slope sides that would feel technical and challenging for some horses and riders.

We did the loop counterclockwise. Micro spikes were definitely in order on some of the lower parts and all of the upper. Once over the summit and past the ski lift, the backside was too steep and unstable to try. Getting late so we came down the ski area in the woods. Treacherous in spots but at least there were trees to stop you (which we did not need).

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful mountainous hike.

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