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Big Meadow to Round Lake

MODERATE 204 reviews

Big Meadow to Round Lake is a 6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near South Lake Tahoe, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 6.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,197 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

hiking
6 days ago

10/12/2019, 1:00-4:00pm After trying to find parking around Lake Tahoe, we finally conceded and decide to grab lunch and rethink our plan. With 2 dogs in tow and being moderately in-shape, we decided to try this trail out. I’m so happy we did! The parking for the trail is on the other side of the highway. You have to cross the highway to get to the trailhead. It had very light traffic which we appreciated and we often found ourselves alone. The trail has some steep areas and rocky terrain at times. There were a few points where stopped and thought about turning back because we were only half way there. I encourage you to pack a sandwich and fill your canteen and do this trek. When you reach the end of the trail it is literally breathtaking. It took us about 2 hours to get there and we stopped a few times. Two-thirds of the way there is uphill, which makes the trek tiring. However, the way back was a breeze and only took us an hour because it was mostly downhill. There are so many other beautiful, lake trails around Tahoe and away from it. I recommend not going with the tourists and traveling a path less popular.

Great hike!! Trail is perfectly maintained. The lake is well worth the hike up; peaceful and quiet.

hiking
18 days ago

9/28/19 great day for a morning hike. not crowded, well maintained & a good surface. windy at the end on the lake.

hiking
22 days ago

Late September. Hardly anyone on this one. Round Lake is a pleasure on the eyes. Definitely worth the walk.

This is a one way trail from Carson Pass Parking through Meiss Meadows, Round Lake and finishing at Big Meadows. 9.5 miles

hiking
1 month ago

Super cool basalt rock garden along the way in the Forest. Daunting rusty red painted bluffs rise above the east shore of Round Lake, daring you to scale them - and taunting you for not having the nerve. While dragon flies buzz the rocky beach and light waves lap quietly . . . as the sun sets over to the piney ridge. Repeat!

backpacking
1 month ago

We took our Cattle Dog backpacking here and camped on a short cliff over the lake. Our dog can be a little reactive on leash but there was lots of space in between campsites so he didn't notice any of the other overnighters. We chose a spot on the far end of the lake to avoid other people and it was perfect. Lots of day hikers with their dogs. Hike there and back was shaded. Fish were active in the afternoon. Super windy at night due to incoming storm.

backpacking
1 month ago

Trail was great! There are bugs but not that many.

hiking
2 months ago

A perfect hike for a half day trip. We had the pleasure of encountering some trail riders on beautiful horses, also several mountain bikers and a few folks with dogs. We brought an air mattress and floated around the lake while tiny fish nibbled at our feet! Water was cool but comfortable, nice and clear with rocky bottom. Trail is in great condition and we enjoyed the different types of terrain it offered. Recommended!

fishing
bugs
2 months ago

Did this trail today. A fairly easy hike, did the first 3 miles in under an hour with a full pack on. Really nice day, but quite windy down on the water. Stayed and fished, no luck, but still a great day. Very busy trail day today with families and dogs.

recorded Big Meadow to Round Lake

hiking
bugs
2 months ago

Wonderful! Easy to moderate. Lots of bugs carry repellant! Lots of butterflies!

hiking
bugs
2 months ago

don't forget the bug spray! besides the bugs beautiful from start to finish

hiking
bugs
2 months ago

Hiking to big meadow as a six year old was my very first hike that I completed with my dad and grandpa. There were cows in the meadow back then! My husband and I are on our honeymoon and we have been revisiting all the places I spent many summers of my childhood. We hiked to big meadow this evening around five or five-thirty pm. The air was fresh and crisp and the sun was falling into a golden glow in the sky - we decided to hike the rest of the distance to Round Lake because we wanted to see where my dad and his brothers had camped with my grandfather as teenagers. We were going to be fighting the daylight, so we jogged some sections. It ended up being a totally beautiful hike with a gorgeous view of the lake and we arrived back to our car at sunset. We each had a bottle of water, bug spray, and a small pack which ended up being sufficient. I carried a light jacket with me and we both wore our hiking shoes. We hiked to the summit of Mt. Tallac a couple days ago and then rode horses for about two hours today - so we were both pretty sore to start with. I would recommend going on this hike a little more rested than we did, but I would describe it as mild to Big Meadow and Moderate if you go the distance to Round Lake. Bring a camera and enjoy the peace and quiet!

hiking
3 months ago

The first .5 mile up a rocky and steep incline had this 60 something hiker from Oklahoma in a pretty good state of tachycardia

hiking
3 months ago

No chance of getting lost, plenty of people to say hello to along the way. Had my dog with me, many others brought dogs. All good times. Beautiful hike, beautiful lake. I would rate easy. See you on the trails.

hiking
rocky
snow
3 months ago

Hiked this trail 6/30/19. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Set out from the parking lot- Tahoe Rim Trail, Big Meadow Trailhead. Big Meadow has lots of wildflowers, birds and butterflies! Just to stand, and take in the 360 deg view is ... wow. Beyond the Meadow, are some steep inclines, switchbacks and snow banks covering the trail in parts that can easily be walked over to reach Round Lake. Quiet, peaceful, wonderful! Hiked out and headed to Dardanelles for lunch! Highly recommend this hike!

hiking
3 months ago

Saw a lady on my to Scott’s Lake today. She just finished Round Lake & said the trail is clear. I plan on checking it out in a couple days.

hiking
4 months ago

We hiked this trail on June 15th, and the trail is clear. There were slushish parts that were easy to scramble over and find the trail afterwards. There were more snow around the lake, but the lake is not frozen over; there was a guy fishing.

hiking
4 months ago

In some spots of the trail it was still covered with 6 to 8 feet of snow along the path of the trail. Although the trail was somewhat hard to keep up with, my husband and I made it to the lake which was still partially iced! Be prepared to wade through cold water along the trail in the meadow. All in all it was a beautiful hike!

hiking
4 months ago

the meadow is a bit flooded so i took the trail to Scott's lake for a little bit. it is very dry.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike! Still quite SNOWY, (as of 6/1/19), so if you go— be prepared to test your navigation skills since the path is completely lost at times due to a good ~3ft of snow through much of the trail. Didn’t make it to Round Lake on account of time and approaching thunderstorms, but passed hikers who said the lake is completely frozen! Looking forward to coming back to this trail in the fall when it’s less snowy :)

hiking
snow
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

A great work out. Great views and a great payoff view. Wildflowers ❤️

hiking
10 months ago

The parking lot is pretty slippery. I attempted the hike, but had to abort after 1.2 miles in because the snow was falling pretty good and I didn't want my truck to be stuck the next morning. That said, it is a pretty hike in the snow. If you are thinking of accomplishing this hike this time of year, I suggest chains and 4 wheel drive (of which, I have neither (yet)).

hiking
10 months ago

Seemed that the trail is a lot longer than noted on the map so be prepared with extra water and snacks. We hiked during a smokey day from nearby fire so could be it was a bit more difficult to breathe that day. Lake is surrounded by volcanic geology so not the typical sierra granite style lake. Eagles nest in the cliffs so you might get to see them fly over the lake if you are lucky!

hiking
11 months ago

Very nice well marked trail. Pretty much all uphill on-way but nothing too hard. Very pleasant scenery. Would be awesome around october because of all the aspen trees. Although I hiked it, it would be a nice beginner MTB trail. Some rocks at the beginning you could walk but a good trail without death cliffs. :)

hiking
11 months ago

The lake is beautiful and peaceful! The trial there had varying terrains with some steep sections and a beautiful meadow. Amazing in the fall.

backpacking
Monday, August 13, 2018

Came here instead of Aloha Lake because we couldn’t find a permit. Absolutely gorgeous, totally manageable hike leading to an absolute playground. Round Lake itself is a tiny Oasis with an absolutely gorgeous view of the entire Tahoe Valley if you’re willing to do a little climbing. Despite camping relatively close to the lake we experienced no bugs, the weather was perfect, and we even caught a little meteor shower. What more can you ask for? Make sure you check out the other Lakes too.

backpacking
Monday, July 23, 2018

We came to Lake Tahoe hoping to do a 1-night backpacking trip in Desolation Wilderness. Permits for the easy hikes were sold out. So we tried Big Meadow / Round Lake trail. Best decision. My favorite 1-night starter backpacking trip I’ve ever hiked. I lead groups on outdoor treks. This trail was fantastic. We had a first time backpacker, as well as some seasoned trekkers, and this loop satisfied them both. It fits a short schedule. 2 and half hours one way with loaded backpacks and multiple breaks. Saturday night trip. Plenty of parking. No backcountry permits required. Easy to start. The trail starts with a terraced incline leading up to Big Meadow, which is an impressive midway spot. Continue a gradual incline along aspens and fir to the top of the ridge, with nice views of the Tahoe Rim Trail and Sierra backcountry. The peaks still had some spots of snow, mid-July. Beautiful. Yet trails were dry. Then a quick descend into a basin with a small incline up to Round Lake. The lake is surrounded by interesting rock formations. So much to explore. Small warning, the ground is rocky with a natural cement aggregate like soil so finding a flat camp spot can be tricky. But we found one, if you continue on the left side of the lake about half-way you may see our spot. This lake is good for rock Jumping, photos and more. Cool areas to explore. The right (west) side is better for swimming and diving. The area is quiet, yet had a few other backpackers that made us feel safe enough yet away from crowds. We could hear a bear crunching through the woods late at night, but no issues or encounter. We felt fine with the handful of other backpackers scattered around the lake. Bring your swimwear Bring good shoes Don’t miss the sunset One of our hikers had some slight soft knees and the trekking poles came in handy for the whole hike. This hike is a must for Tahoe area backpackers. Also would make a good half-day hike

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