Big Meadow to Dardanelles Lake via Tahoe Rim Trail

MODERATE 52 reviews

Big Meadow to Dardanelles Lake via Tahoe Rim Trail is a 7.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near South Lake Tahoe, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
7.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1358 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Directions from South Lake Tahoe: Take Highway 50 southwest to Highway 89. Go south on 89 to the Big Meadows parking lot on the left. Follow the trail at the lower end of the parking lot approximately 200 yards, where it intersects with the highway. Cross the highway cautiously and look for the trailhead signboard.

hiking
6 months ago

We only had a couple hours to hike so we did an out and back, nice mix of rolling hills and foliage. Not too busy but we did see a few other hikers.

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike through forest, meadows and across streams. A little uneven, some climbs, but the destination and swim are well worth the effort.

hiking
8 months ago

Pretty popular trail in high season, lots of people and dogs. Still an excellent hike

hiking
8 months ago

Loved the trail it's pretty much uphill all the way until you get to the second intersection to chose round lake or another trail on the right. We got confused because we didn't see the Darnell's lake sign but we back tracked and found it. Over all must because the meadow and wild flowers were amazing.

backpacking
8 months ago

Beautiful views. Trail is very well maintained and easy to follow. Getting a bit more crowded.

backpacking
9 months ago

Beautiful hike, with diverse terrain. The uphill climb is at the beginning, and then opens up to Big Meadows. Unfortunately, I went with my family the week of July 19th and the fire in Mariposa brought about an abundance of smoke that sat and disrupted what would have been an even lovelier view. I plan on going again soon, a great and easy hike!

hiking
9 months ago

Nice hike with varied terrain. Creek crossings are no longer an issue. Still some sections with nice wild flowers. Lake water was warm enough to take a dip in. Saw hikers, backpackers and a few mountain bikers both directions along the trail.

backpacking
9 months ago

Did an epic night hike with a large group... We stopped at Big Meadow, turned off our headlamps and gazed up at the stars, just pretty. Found xmas valley trail via the TRT then the junction off to Dardanelles. After successfully crossing the first stream which I thought was probably the most sketchy, the next two were pretty cake. Got to the lake and veered to the left to setup camp around 3:30am. Btw it's a huge campsite capable of accommodating a large group.

Switched campsites about midday to northwest side of the lake... absolutely wallpaper type views. Our new camp area had beveled wood bench seating placed on stone and granite slab kitchen tables for cooking and prepping. Didn't have a good area to drop a comfortable deuce due to the number of campers but that wasn't a deal breaker. The shoreline area(s) are just beautiful, have to be there too see for yourself.

PS: MOSQUITOS (100x)

9 months ago

Great hike! Wish we would have taken camping equipment.

hiking
9 months ago

A wonderful hike! We clocked it at 8 miles. The trail was clear of snow. Multiple stream crossings, but we were able to cross each one without getting wet. One section had water running down the trail, and you had to do a bit of cross-country to get around it, but not bad. WONDERFUL wildflowers along the whole way. The lake was amazing. A moderate amount of traffic on the trail, not bad (but it was mid-week). Mosquitoes were a bit of a problem in the meadow and once you got to the stream area, particularly as the sun was going down. The meadow was easy to traverse, not too wet at all. A perfect time to hike this trail. All the trail junctions were clearly marked.

backpacking
9 months ago

What a great trail. We did Dardanelles and Round Lake. Ended up with 8.9 miles.

hiking
9 months ago

Out and back yesterday. Trail clear -- A bit wet coming into Big Meadow, which has some boggy sections. Not that bad. Could smell the wildflowers coming back through in the afternoon. Patches of snow at the top of the pass. Lots of water in the Upper Truckee drainage, easily forded (rock hopping) as you approach the lake. One wet (flowing) section that requires a little route inventiveness, and some tree walking. (Lots of downed trees on the trail down to the lake.) Lovely hike, a good test for my old body. Flowers everywhere.

backpacking
9 months ago

Nice trip. But if you go anytime soon be prepared to get your feet wet. There's a lot of water on the trail--just in sections. It is passable. I took my shoes and socks off a couple of times. Big Meadow has a lot of flooding. Then there are a few spots as you get closer to Dardanelles Lake. Well worth it though.

hiking
Monday, July 25, 2016

Great hike. Beautiful meadow, lake, hike through sequoias and wildflowers. Saw people swimming in lake: wished I'd brought my stuff! Get to parking lot early: we got last parking spot at 10:30 on a Sat morning in mid-July.

hiking
Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Awesome hike. Beautiful Lake. The trail has some patches of snow (after the meadow and before the trail intersection), but it was easy to cross with just hiking boots. There were 3 river crossings (hopped on rocks) and at one point the trail turned into a river (lots of mud and water). Overall the trail was easily hiked. The wildflowers in the meadow were just starting to show. Loved this hike.

hiking
Friday, October 23, 2015

There are three lakes after big meadows. Dardanelle, round lake and I think the third was Scotts lake. All of them are around 3.7 miles from the trail head. Round lake has a huge wall of rock on the east side and the lake and the lake used to be a murky gray but this last hike It was very clear and I was told there are fish in it again. If you keep going south around the lake there are trails to an old settlement but I'm told it is easier to go from Carson pass on 88 to the settlement. Dardanelle lake is my favorite hike in the sierras so far. The lake is pristine and beautiful. I've see camps on the western side during the summer many times!

backpacking
Saturday, October 10, 2015

This is a great trail. This was the first time my wife of 35 years had joined me on an overnight backpack trip. I wanted a trail that would be scenic, but not too difficult. This trail and location fit the bill. She had a great time and promised to join me next year.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The hike in was not too hard and there was plenty of downed trees to rest on along the trail, if needed. Once we arrived, the lake was amazing. We were fortunate enough to be the only ones out there and had our pick of any location to set up camp. I would highly recommend this hike!

hiking
Saturday, September 05, 2015

I would rate this as an easy hike. The trail is well marked and the lake was beautiful. The trail has some steady inclines but nothing to tedious. Great hike for the family.

hiking
Thursday, August 06, 2015

This is a great hike but the first 2 miles (from the Big Meadow trailhead is a continuous uphill climb and definitely not "easy". It's challenging the first 2.5 miles until you get to the switchback down. It's ip and down from that point - a little longer and tougher than the route to Round Lake. You cross the creek via stepping stones 3x and it's a great break for the dogs! The lake is lovely but I think around Lake is the most beautiful of the three (Scott, Round and Dardanelles). The turnoff to the lake is almost hidden - marked by a small stack of rocks - but for the dogs, I would have missed it! The last leg takes you over some rock face and then the lake appears! Gorgeous lake! But I'd rather hang out at around Lake. It's crystal blue and a bit shorter hike. My "map your hike" app had it at 8 miles round trip! Bring lots of water and a hat! Super fun!

hiking
Friday, July 31, 2015

Beautiful hike with a gorgeous destination. 4.5 miles one way on the GPS, with the first 2 miles going up hill. There is a nice break in the climb at .70 miles when you reach Big Meadow. My 6 yr old son had a bit of a hard time but he caries a 15 pound backpack and made me proud by powering through his longest hike to date. My wife and 10 year old daughter thought it wasn't bad. Starting off by attacking the trail up hill warms you up fast. The trail to Dardenelles is not marked but once you make a right at the maker for Round Lake go .25 miles and keep an eye on the left side and you see the trail.

We spent 2 nights and 3 days there exploring and fishing, no fish were caught due to the department of forestry netting the lake and streams to remove non-native species. They are to replant at a later date with Lahontan Cutthroat trout. Round Lake has already been restocked.

Great hike, beautiful scenery, plenty of camping spots and friendly people.

Friday, July 24, 2015

This is my new favorite hike, so beautiful! We hiked to Round Lake first, then Dardanelles. There were so many wildflowers and little streams, it was incredible! We got there late in the day and there were dark clouds rolling in, so we didn't get to stay at Dardanelles as long as we would have liked. We will definitely go back! My Garmin clocked it at 9 miles to both lakes.

hiking
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Beautiful trail, well marked, and a wonderful 8 mile hike with my big dog. It's an easy trail; we went to Round Lake and then to Dardanelles Lake on the way back. This section of the trail was gorgeous, there were more wildflowers than anyone could imagine this time of year. There were tons of water crossings to keep the dog hydrated and cool, so the next time we go out this way we will for sure camp. This out and back hike took Roughly 3 hours.

camping
Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Great hike! Beautiful and very varied terrain. We carried packs in and camped at Dardanelles Lake, then hiked out the next day. Lots of mosquitoes that (mostly) responded to DEET. Sunset at the lake was beautiful, water was warm enough to swim in, and overall we had a great time. Somehow, our GPS said 4.5 miles each way. Moderately difficult for us raw beginners with packs, but nothing we couldn't handle.

hiking
Monday, July 06, 2015

Enjoyable hike with lots of nice wildflowers. My mapping app said it was a bit longer 8.8 miles round trip. Be sure to be aware and watch for the last turn off the trail there is no marker only a pile of rocks. Beautiful lake! Oh and bring bug spray.

Monday, June 29, 2015

One of my favorite trails so far. The trail itself is so diverse and beautiful. The meadow is so peaceful and tranquil. You cross three different creeks by jumping rocks and it's a steep uphill. Once you reach the top you go down again to reach the lake which is a nice break, but that means you will have to go uphill on the way back too. A moderate (strenuous for beginners) trail but totally worth it. Dardanelle lake is breath taking. But bring bug spray! We did 8 miles and got bit multiple times by Mosquitos. Amazing hike.

camping
Friday, June 19, 2015

Just backpacked this trail the other day from Carson pass to Dardanelles lake and out Big Meadow. Left one car at one end and drove back to the other. A perfect trail for the beginner backpacker, I took my sister for her first overnighter. Dardanelles lake is a beautiful, secluded place to spend the night with plenty of already established campsites. Beautiful views along the way of both canyons and fields.

camping
Saturday, August 27, 2011

This trail is absolutely beautiful. I originally learned of it from my pop. We now make a trip to hike it once a year, or do an over nighter at the lake. It can be challenging at times, depending the weight of your pack. People of all skill levels, ages, and interests hike this trail. I highly recommend this trail and I try to invite a new friend every time to come along.

hiking
6 months ago

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