Explore the most popular waterfall 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.

1 day ago

Beautiful hike
We crossed the river at the beginning and stayed on the side to avoid the people as it was pretty crowded

Super wildflowers!! Nice moderate but long hike. Did not summit, the last couple hundred yards were a little too sketchy for me, but would be completely doable for others.

Great views it’s worth it when you get to the top

It was not an easy hike. Some parts were of course but scaling the 300ft wall to get to the other section was a bit of a leg burner. We did get to the lake and we were hiking in 88 degree weather. So with that we were more than happy to jump in the lake. I would recommend this hike waterfalls and beautiful landscaping just bring water it can get warm out there. loved that we did it.

This is an amazing hike. Today was my third time. Two times have been successful to the top, and one was thwarted by snow. My husband, myself and two boys did it three years ago (they were 10 and 7), on a slightly overcast day in July. Temps were probably in the 70's. My husband and I attempted it in late April, and there was still too much snow to get to the top without snowshoes. The hike itself is really not that difficult, but a couple variables will really up the difficulty... On a hot, sunny (no relief from any clouds) day, it's quite difficult to get to the summit. Our group included two very fit grandparents in their mid 60's, two boys now 13 and 10 and a fit 43 yo. The last section past Shirley Lake was tougher than I remember, and if I could do this again, I would not bring my parents beyond the granite slope/boulder portion. If you live in altitude, it may not be an issue. If you live closer to sea level, perhaps take caution to go on a day where it's a bit more overcast, and make sure to bring plenty of water and food. The members of our group declined food, and if i knew what I know now, sandwiches at Shirley lake would have been mandatory!

5 days ago

Beautiful views! The hike will take your breath away!!!

great trail a bit tough. not for weak of heart. last section needs help. slippery steep gravel road

6 days ago

On many recommendations, four friends and I took the trail early on a Sunday morning. None of us were super-experienced hikers, but the experience was fantastic. Going early was huge—the return trip was very warm, making the ascent a bit tougher. There’s a slight fork near the river; we went right which was a rocky shortcut to some nice pools and view. As a novice wearing tennis shoes, there were a few spots on the way down that felt tricky, but the return ascent posed almost none; those same spots were much easier to go up than down, even factoring in fatigue. The reviews on here provided excellent advice: we avoided the poison oak, we brought water (though needed more than 32 oz apiece returning in the heat), and sunscreen was crucial for my fairer complexion. I had been afraid of heights since I was a little kid, so there were moments where the openness and elevation did hit me, but I didn’t actually have much trouble—I just focused a lot on the way down. Hikers along the trail were all friendly and patient with our inexperienced group, and I had a memorable time and would love to do it again in the future (wearing boots though).. Happy hiking!

7 days ago

It was difficult but enjoyable hike.

7 days ago

Fun hike! Perfect length! Good amount of difficulty, enough that makes for a good workout but not too much where you feel like you need to take a bunch of breaks. Gorgeous views and was pleasantly surprised it led down to the water! I’ll be back!

Not as bad as you think. some technical sections but we did it with our 3 year old daughter. Took it slow plenty of water to play in. 2000 feet vertical to get to the top, but free ride down, and only 10 bucks to swim in the pool.

Everything you could want in a hike. Woods, waterfalls, pools, lots of dogs, wildflowers, a swimming hole, and extraordinary vistas. Definitely worth continuing to High Camp and taking the gondola down. Beautiful!

One of my favorite hikes. It’s challenging as much as it is breathtaking. Every section of the hike brings something new whether it be hiking through a flat, forested area or climbing rocks alongside a series of cascading waterfalls or scaling a huge granite side of a mountain. A lot of people underestimate this hike. Be prepared for it to take at least 3 hours and bring plenty of water and snacks.

As others have suggested, instead of turning around at the lake we continued the final mile or so to High Camp at the top. Be prepared if you intend to do this as it does add about 800 feet in additional elevation gain to the climb. Trail was steep and technical, but well-marked, with plenty of good views. The first mile or so is more wooded and follows the stream rather closely, with plenty of waterfalls and pools to enjoy. The terrain gets rockier and steeper in the second leg, and becomes more exposed- make sure you have plenty of water and take frequent breaks. The lake is a good spot to stop for a while. The final stretch up to High Camp is unpaved road, which means loose gravel and steep inclines, and it's completely exposed to sun and wind. It's a bit of a bear to get up but is entirely worth the views of lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. There are all manner of activities in High Camp, and the gondola ride back down is indeed free. It deposits you right in the village, so you can go straight from the top of the ridge to enjoying a meal with friends in about ten minutes. Had a fantastic time on this trail, it's tough but rewarding.

Incredible hike through treed areas, along a creek, up a rock face, and past lots of wildflowers. Strenuous because of the scrambling and steepness (at times) but there are lots of kids on the trail including ours that did great. Continued past beautiful Lake Shirley to High Camp, stopping for some snow ball play. Swam at the pool and played then took the tram back down.

Breathtaking! Brilliant wildflowers are still in bloom!

This is a great hike, just please use caution when reading different descriptions about it being easy. The hike is awesome but it is not easy. There is a lot of. climbing,/scrambling over rocks and plenty of times where you put your hands down. It is not long but it is a fairly continuous climb- sometimes steep. My GPS may have been off (no surprise) but it is also longer than 2.2 miles to the lake. I highly recommend continuing up from the lake (on the left side) to High Camp. This is a destination in itself a top Squaw Valley ski resort and where the aerial tram from the bottom comes to. The key here is that the tram is free for the ride down. If you plan to do this and it is not mid summer, make sure the tram is open when you go. I think this route is a lot more fun than hiking down all of the rocks you just climbed up.

10 days ago

It's tough. Downhill almost all the way in to the canyon which can only mean uphill on the return. Use plenty of sunscreen/bring plenty of water/and bring mosquito repellent just in case. Lots of poison oak but fairly easy to avoid if careful.
The cave was very 'cool' both literally and figuratively! And the waterfall and pools of water were awesome! We enjoyed ourselves but turned back after about 2 miles when we got to a really great vista point.
I recommend it for strong uphill hikers!

12 days ago

Excellent trail. One of the best in the area- hike to the top and take the gondola down!

Nice and really shaded. Really close to waterfall but can go further.

trail running
14 days ago

My all time favoritest

14 days ago

Great trail! I would not recommend doing this in 90 degree+. Most on the trail in this heat were miserable. There is a long ridge that is direct Sun most of the day, by far the hottest part. Water makes up for it though. Mosquitos in evening alot of poison oak.

Beautiful hike with different sceneries from waterfalls, rivers, pond, wild flowers and forest. The trail has some shade on and off. Trail is marked. I would say this hike is moderate to difficult with gradual elevation. We hiked all the way to base camp and took the tram down for free. I would highly recommend this hike!

This hike is definitely hard but well worth the trip! This trail has everything; beautiful wild flowers, waterfalls, trees, lake and views with a great work out! Make it to the top and enjoy a delicious lunch at the restaurant and swim in the beautiful pool if you want to then ride the Gondola back down for free.

Beautiful views, crystal clear steams and Shirley Lake is just gorgeous. Hike is manageable and well marked. Last mile was a bit tough. Tram back was a highlight. Would do again!

Amazing hike that surprises you with a new waterfall every 5 minutes. Rated as hard, but I would consider it easy to moderate. One of the best hikes in Tahoe!

off road driving
20 days ago

We actually drove the trail. The beginning of the trail posts a sign that lets you know you can hike, bike or drive it. Really needs to be a 4x4 of sorts. Great drive and outstanding lakes. You start with one lake and then go up to a second lake. Amazing!

So beautiful! We hiked this one yesterday. The weather couldn't have been more perfect at around 82 degrees. Treking poles were really helpful, and the tram down was an amazing end to the day. We would 100% do this one again

off road driving
21 days ago

Sardine lakes did not disappoint! It’s absolutely stunning, if you’re thinking about making a trip there do it! There’s campgrounds very close to the lake and there were very few people there for it being a Saturday at noon. For those who want to go to wheel up the trail, here’s some good info for you. The trail is extremely rocky, so having skid plates will help a ton. It’s also extremely skinny, and there are only a couple points to turn around. I wouldn’t recommend taking a full size truck up. I took my 03 Ranger (3” Lift, 33’s and it’s 2 wheel drive but it has a rear locker). The trail is so skinny that my truck barely fit in some parts. There’s a few big rocks that can’t be avoided that will 100% contact the underside of your truck unless you’ve got a rig on 40’s or a huge lift. I was joined at the end of the trail by a Tacoma and 4Runner (both lifted with a/t tires) and watched a nice 4x4 f150 (stock height and Tires) get pretty messed up on this trail. He had to back down about a 1/4 of the way and banged his truck up pretty good. Overall, a fun and not very challenging trail if you’ve got a decent rig and some driver skill. If you’ve got any questions you can find me on Instagram @jakeramirez99 and I’d be happy to give you any info about this trail you want.

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