Best forest trails in Tahoe National Forest, California

21,310 Reviews
Explore the most popular forest 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.
Map of forest trails in Tahoe National Forest, California
Park information
Park hours
Monday
12:00 am - 12:00 am
Tuesday
12:00 am - 12:00 am
Wednesday
12:00 am - 12:00 am
Thursday
12:00 am - 12:00 am
Friday
12:00 am - 12:00 am
Saturday
12:00 am - 12:00 am
Sunday
12:00 am - 12:00 am
Helpful links
Top trails (182)
#1 - Stevens Trail
Tahoe National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2106)
Length: 7.7 mi • Est. 4 h 5 m
Stevens Trail has little shade and can become dangerous during the summer months. Please do not attempt in extreme heat and be wary of the hot ground on your dog's paws. Be sure to bring lots of water for your hike. Note that the climb comes at the end of this hike. This trail is very scenic and rich in history - it is also on the National Register of Historic places. Built by Truman Allen Stevens it was used as a toll road for miners that needed to get from the mining town of Iowa Hill to the railroad town of Colfax. The trail was forgotten but then rediscovered in 1969 by a boyscout, Eric Kiel, and re-charted as part of his scouting project. Today it is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. Show more
#2 - Five Lakes Trail
Tahoe National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1019)
Length: 5.0 mi • Est. 2 h 46 m
SEASONAL CLOSURE: This trail is posted as closed for commercial filming during the winter months. Nestled in the foothills of the Granite Chief Wilderness peaks just north of Lake Tahoe in Olympic Valley, the Five Lakes Trail promises dramatic yet tranquil surroundings, along with a place to relax, fish, or swim. Best visited after the snow has retreated in the summer, the Five Lakes Trail is one of the easiest and most accessible routes in the Granite Chief Wilderness, so you're unlikely to have this trail to yourself. Don't be disheartened by this popular hike, however, as the lakes themselves allow for quiet and solitude. This trail offers great views, beautiful wildflowers, and plenty of room for exploration. It's like a playground but better. Stretching is encouraged since almost all of the elevation gain is accrued during the first mile or so of the hike. Once at the lakes, you can take it easy, swim, eat, and lay out, or you can continue on and hike around the ski resort, or head west or south and hit up the PCT and other trails. Ample parking can be found alongside Alpine Meadows Road, both before and after the trailhead.Show more
#3 - Mount Judah Loop Trail
Tahoe National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(829)
Length: 4.8 mi • Est. 2 h 45 m
Start from Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) trailhead off Donner Pass Road. Continue up to the Mount Judah Loop trail and Donner Summit. Wonderful ledges and views from the summit! Continue clockwise on the loop trail over Mount Judah and parts of the emigrant wagon trail. This leads back to the PCT and out to the trail head starting point.Show more
#4 - Loch Leven Lakes Trail
Tahoe National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(894)
Length: 7.7 mi • Est. 4 h 6 m
Loch Leven Lakes Trail is the perfect example of high alpine ecosystems in the Tahoe National Forest. Located directly off Interstate 80, this trail will have users hiking deep into the Tahoe National Forest in no time, in search of scenic high alpine Sierra Nevada lakes. The trail is difficult on the way up, with a lot of incline and rocky conditions. It is important to follow trail markers carefully, especially in the first mile, since it can be very easy to get off course in the beginning. The railroad tracks are really amazing to see, with plenty more climbing after them so stay hydrated. The first lake users will arrive is small but beautiful. Middle lake is gorgeous and the water was perfect for swimming in summer. It is highly recommended to camp at Upper Lake, the middle lake has bears that are not afraid to come close to tents, but people at Upper Lake did not seem to have any issues with bears. While camping is a great option to make this hike last, day hiking and short backpacking trips with friends and family makes it a challenging hike if not local to the elevation. Users absolutely recommend going to high Loch Leven and climbing up to one of the peak mountain rocks to the left side to get an amazing view of the mountains in every direction to see the third, the second and some smaller lakes. Eat lunch and take a dip in the water during summer, as the temperature is perfect when it’s a nice sunny day in August. In most warm seasons, users will also enjoy a few wildflowers that are still in bloom. While this spot is gorgeous in the summer, revisiting with snow on the ground during winter is a great option — and users often mention that the winter version is as good or better! Definitely wear microspikes for the first half and even snowshoes for the second, with hiking poles to make the adventure even better. Since the trail can be more difficShow more
#5 - Shirley Canyon Trail
Tahoe National Forest
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1026)
Length: 5.6 mi • Est. 3 h 16 m
The aerial tram is not operating in 2020. Please check here for updates: https://squawalpine.com/plan-your-visit/aerial-tram-rides This beautiful route takes hikers from Olympic Valley up into the mountains above. There is a tram that hikers can use during the summer. You may choose to make this trail a point-to-point by hiking up, and then taking the tram back down to the village. Please check with Squaw Valley for more information about the tram.Show more
#6 - Castle Peak Trail
Tahoe National Forest
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(863)
Length: 6.0 mi • Est. 3 h 38 m
One of the easiest peaks (9100') to hike in the Tahoe area and is doable as a day hike from the Bay Area. As you approach Donner Pass from the west on I-80, you can't miss Castle Peak on the left. To get to the trailhead, take the Boreal exit (between Soda Springs and Donner Lake.) From the Boreal parking lot go under the freeway and follow the road up to the right and find a place to park. If you have a 4WD with high clearance, you could follow the dirt road and shorten the hike by a mile or two. Start the hike by following the dirt road. In a mile and half the trail will start to climb and you'll reach a junction at Castle Pass. The PCT crosses this junction. Turn right and follow the ridgeline up to Castle Peak. From the ridgeline you look to your left (north) and see a beautiful green valley and ahead and to the right you can see your destination. Simply follow the well defined trail to the top. The climb gets quite steep (1300' gain, mostly in the last 2 miles) and hiking poles can be useful. If you have the time, you can also hike over to Andesite Peak or Basin Peak.Show more
#7 - Tahoe Rim Trail to Picnic Rock Viewpoint
Tahoe National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(979)
Length: 3.1 mi • Est. 1 h 45 m
Great day hike off the TRT to the Spur Trail Viewpoint (Picnic Rock) often thought of as the best views for the least amount of work. Moderate gain in elevation with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and surrounding peaks makes this a must do short hike in the Tahoe area. The trailhead is up the hill from Northstar, between Truckee and Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe. Park in the lot on 267, or if you have 4WD or a higher clearance vehicle, you can also drive a ways up the dirt road across from the parking area to another lot. The trail is smooth single track and can easily be extended into a longer hike if you stay on the Rim Trail. If you just want to go to the viewpoint, about a mile in you will see a tree with an arrow shaped sign that says "Picnic Rock Lake View" letting you know you are almost there. There is no water along the trail, but there is a bit of shade to keep you cool on warmer days. Show more
#8 - Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail
Tahoe National Forest
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(474)
Length: 4.8 mi • Est. 2 h 59 m
Views of three lakes to fire lookout where you can see the Sacramento Valley. Trailhead is about 1/4 to 1/2 mile after the end of paved road. Beyond trailhead is OHV-only. Trail is mostly uphill but not too steep with plenty of flat ground. As you approach the first ridge, you'll see wildflowers & butterflies galore. Around the bend are the Tamarack Lakes, reflecting the sky, clouds, & trees. A little ways farther is Young America lake, which is just as reflective. Finally, you'll meet up with the 4WD trail that has 4 or 5 switchbacks, and finally reach the bottom of the lookout tower. If you're afraid of heights, you might not want to climb, but if not, be prepared for the views! Approximately 200 steps later, you'll be atop the lookout tower, with 360-degree views of the entire Sacramento Valley. On clear days you can see as far as Lassen! You also have a wonderful view of Upper & Lower Sardine Lake.Show more
#9 - Stateline Lookout
Tahoe National Forest
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(739)
Length: 1.7 mi • Est. 40 m
This paved trail begins in Nevada and ends in California at an old fire lookout with beautiful views of the Lake and mountains. Although this trail is paved, it is steep with a grade of 8% to 12% for much of the trail so it is not considered wheelchair or stroller friendly. It typically has a width of at least two feet. It may be too steep or narrow for some manual wheelchair or stroller users without assistance.Show more
#10 - Donner Peak Trail
Tahoe National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(689)
Length: 3.8 mi • Est. 2 h 8 m
You will need snowshoes for this trail in winter! Road to the trailhead is not plowed regularly and so you may need to park at Summit Haus. Show more
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