Best lake trails in Tahoe National Forest, California

10,025 Reviews
Explore the most popular lake 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 lake 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 (96)
#1 - 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
#2 - Mount Judah Loop Trail
Tahoe National Forest
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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
#3 - Loch Leven Lakes Trail
Tahoe National Forest
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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
#4 - 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
#5 - Paradise Lake Trail
Tahoe National Forest
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Length: 14.9 mi • Est. 7 h 45 m
An overnight backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail in Truckee, California. Paradise Lake is a classic Sierra Nevada lake with gorgeous sunsets and a pristine lake full of trout. This overnight backpacking trip is easily accessible from Highway 80 and follows parts of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Tahoe National Forest. A fire permit is required to start a campfire in an already established fire ring. You can get the permit for free at any Forest Service, BLM, or CAL FIRE offices. Or you can get one online here: http://www.preventwildfireca.org/Show more
#6 - Summit Lake Trail
Tahoe National Forest
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Length: 4.7 mi • Est. 2 h 11 m
#7 - Sagehen Creek Trail
Tahoe National Forest
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Length: 6.0 mi • Est. 2 h 24 m
Pleasant hiking although crowded beginning when weather is nice. Nice wildflowers and birds especially near the reservoir. The fastest way to get to the end of the trail is via the Hobart Mills Rd and then off onto a dirt road for a bit. Show more
#8 - Azalea Lake and Flora Lake via Donner Summit Lakes Trail
Tahoe National Forest
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Length: 2.7 mi • Est. 1 h 14 m
This trail is a portion of the PCT between I-80 and Highway 40 near Donner Summit/Truckee CA.This trail is a great hike with breathtaking scenery and granite monoliths to play on and can be started easily from either direction. Mosquitos are prevalent in spring. Donner Lake is visible from portions of the trail as well as great views of Castle peak.Show more
#9 - Crooked Lakes Trail to Penner Lake
Tahoe National Forest
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Length: 6.0 mi • Est. 2 h 54 m
#10 - Glacier Lakes Trail
Tahoe National Forest
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Length: 7.1 mi • Est. 3 h 40 m
Showing results 1 - 10 of 96