Cascade Falls Trail

MODERATE 336 reviews

Cascade Falls Trail is a 1.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Tahoma, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
1.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
236 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

This is a great short, moderate/easy hike to a beautiful waterfall within Emerald Lake State Park on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe. The trailhead is located off of Highway 89 north of South Lake Tahoe across from Inspiration Point. There is a small parking area with limited parking. The trail navigates through forest and over stone steps. There are many vantage points with excellent views of Cascade Lake, Emerald Bay, and Lake Tahoe along the way. Although there is not a lot of elevation change, there are challenging spots along the trail with large rocks/small boulders to navigate. Once at the falls, it is a good place to eat lunch, relax, and take in the views. The surrounding large granite rock outcroppings are impressive. There are multiple pools you can put your feet in. This is one of the more popular hiking trails Emerald Bay State Park and parking fills up quickly. Make sure to get there early to secure a parking spot. The best time to see the falls is in spring/early summer when Cascade Creek is roaring from the snowmelt that feeds it.

7 days ago

The view is amazing and not a hard hike at all

7 days ago

A fantastic Kid friendly hike! Like most hikes, wear appropriate foot wear. Our 7 and 9 year old had a great time and were able to vear off the trail a little to enjoy the area. There are some areas where you will need to use your hands a little, nothing major. Pack a lunch to relax at the falls area. Its beautiful!

7 days ago

Wouldn't say it's an easy trail as while quite short (1.4m/2.2km roundtrip) almost all of it is rocks and boulders. Don't wear flipflops. The views are breathtaking, a must-do/see

10 days ago

The views are amazing, and it isn't a long hike, but who ever called climbing the boulders in the path an easy hike... Some people aren't that tall!

hiking
13 days ago

Beautiful trail; just watch where you step

17 days ago

This is one of the best short hikes in the Tahoe area. Big Bang for small amount of effort. Amazing views. We went later in the early evening and had it all to ourselves. Great views as sun fades in the west and colors hills with a red hue.

hiking
18 days ago

easy hike with lots of foot traffic. parked in the campgrounds near the trail head. the falls are awesome, lots of places to sit right by the water.

hiking
19 days ago

Fun Little Hike!!

20 days ago

Nice quick hike - about 1 to 1.5 hours round trip with a snack/pix break at the falls. Starts shady in tall pines for 1/4 mile then 1 mile of a rocky hillside trail that was not flat per se’ - so you go up and down a bit but not long and not difficult. Wear boots to grip the rocks. Falls were pretty and view from falls was spectacular.

20 days ago

Really fun hike to take lunch and do with some friends

hiking
21 days ago

A must hike while in the area!

21 days ago

Great hike.. More difficult on the way back. Do not bring young children (under 3). Saw so many people struggling with young children due to many rocks/boulders along the trail.

29 days ago

Great views and slightly challenging

hiking
1 month ago

Very pretty - very easy for a first hike. We did it when I had a fever and cold so didn't explore much but it was manageable. Parking is fairly limited. Go early.

1 month ago

Wonderful hike! Parking is limited

1 month ago

The hike back is a workout if you don’t hike a lot. However the views were worth it! Road construction by the entrance with a one lane road so be careful.

1 month ago

Great trail, but beware as there is a lot of rock climbing along the edge of the mountain. Be extra careful if it is raining and definitely wear boots! If you make it to the end, you can try and climb higher for better views!

1 month ago

The super rocky path kept two kids, even one who complains on all hikes, engaged and happy. Parking difficult with the campground closed for season and road construction. Come early. Awesome view. Wear appropriate footwear and layers. We'll be back.

1 month ago

Pretty good trail challenging but the waterfall was great. April 25, 2018

hiking
2 months ago

Nice easy hike, as with all hikes in this area it can get busy on weekends and during the summer. Don’t be surprised to see people hiking in flip flops. You do walk over large boulders so finding the trail in this section can be a little tricky, especially if there’s snow on the ground. Beautiful view of Cascade Lake and side view of Cascade Falls.

hiking
2 months ago

Bayview Campground closed for season, reopening in late May. Parking available at Inspiration Point and just off Highway 89. Walk through Bayview Campground adds 0.3 miles to the route; it's blanketed in packed snow as of 4/9.

Having seen Cascade Lake dotted with surrounding snow from Highway 89, I wanted to photograph it from the west (rather than north or northeast). I hadn't yet done a sunset hike in Tahoe and, even though the trail's orientation is geared towards a sunrise, Cascade Falls seemed like an inviting trek. Its short distance and negligible elevation allowed me to get on the trail less than an hour before sunset.

The first portion of the trail goes through Bayview Campground, at least during the winter. Even with the recent warm rainfall and prevalent sunlight, an icy blanket of snow covers the campground, aided by the wooded surroundings. This should mostly melt by May. I saw cross-country skiers in the campground, a concerning premonition as I expected the trail to be mostly snow-free. The path winds its way through a covered forest, easily discernible as footprints are firmly indented in the snow.

The first half of the hike is uneventful without views. However, the trail presently narrows and the landscape opens, ascending sharply up a snow-covered rock. This provides the first view of Cascade Lake. The trail narrows further along the rock face, protruding rocks and steps aiding icy footing until the trail becomes relatively exposed. As of 4/9, there's little snow remaining on the latter section of the trail; the snow/ice that remains is easily passable with hiking boots.

As the trail approaches the falls, it gradually disappears into the rocky landscape. You're free to find a route to an optimal viewpoint. There's no single "best" outlook- there are multiple, some of which offer a view of Cascade Lake primarily, others which allow you to view the falls from a side, and one or two that provide both. In the summertime, trailblazing to Snow Lake seems like an inviting full-day endeavor.

This trail provides arguably the best view-to-effort ratio of any trail in Tahoe. There are two main attractions: a Cascade Lake view just off the trail at 0.6 miles, and Cascade Falls itself. Especially during the waking or waning hours of the day, Cascade Lake is unbelievably vivid and the roaring falls somehow serene. A less crowded alternative to Eagle Lake, the Cascade Falls Trail is a wonderful opportunity to spend a 30-60 minute slot.

Keep in mind that, even though this is called "Cascade Falls Trail," there's never a head-on view of the falls as with Glen Alpine, Eagle, or Horsetail Falls. That aside, it's a great winter/spring trek with unrivaled views of Cascade Lake with the calming atmosphere a roaring waterfall provides.

hiking
3 months ago

beautiful views, got a little warm in February! Love the calming sound of the falls.

hiking
5 months ago

Easy hike if you have the appropriate footwear. Went in Dec and lots of the rocks were icy, a few other visitors turned back before they reached the falls. Short beautiful hike with views of Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe.

hiking
6 months ago

Make sure you have a good pair of hiking shoes. You will have to climb through the rocks at some point.

hiking
7 months ago

Great bang for your buck. Pretty easy walk, comes out to a beautiful waterfall overlooking some lakes

hiking
7 months ago

Hike was pretty easy and not crowded at all! Because of the snow melt the waterfall is rushing and creates a stunning view. A very family friendly hike. The only tricky part is finding parking

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike! Easy to follow trail with rocky sections. Crossing the waterfall requires some rock-hopping and has slick rocks. Beautiful overlook of Cascade Lake. Recommended to people of all ages.

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike! Definitely some areas where you begin to wonder where the trail is though. But it was a fun out and back hike that led to some amazing views. We had a great time scrambling around the waterfall area and trying to get the best pics. A little crowded, but it was also the middle of a Sunday afternoon. Definitely recommended!

8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

Pretty cool trail which ends in multiple water falls across granite rocks. There are multiple pools you can put your feet in. I brought my dog and she did a great job navigating. Make sure you bring sun cover as it's hot out and plenty of water or bring a filter. It was a pretty easy trail but gets a bit in marked at the end and takes time to find way back to trail when leaving as not really marked but eventually can be picked up.

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