Eagle Lake Trail

MODERATE 506 reviews
#1 of 37 trails in

Eagle Lake Trail is a 1.7 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 May until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
1.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
433 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

Leading into the heart of Desolation Wilderness (a permit is required), the Eagle Lake trail offers forest, lake and far reaching views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra high country. At the Eagle Falls trailhead, obtain your wilderness permit. Head SW up the trail, climbing gently at first, then ascending a steep set of stone steps. Climb the stairs about 5 minutes to the falls and the short loop trail. Cross the high bridge and enjoy the vista back down the canyon to Emerald Bay. To continue on to Eagle Lake, follow the trail gradually uphill another half mile or so until you reach a fork. The right hand trail leads to the lake, resting in a glacial cirque below North Maggies Peak (about 20-25 more minutes, this is a good hike for children). Take a swim in the cold! Eagle Lake waters, or keep going further to reach Velmas, Dicks, and Fontanillis lakes. The trail can be crowded but offers a great workout and good places to picnic near Eagle Lake on big boulders.

2 hours ago

Great view at every stop. Great to hike up and have a picnic with your kids. Will come again.

3 days ago

Super pretty - views changed every few minutes. The lake is stunning!

hiking
4 days ago

Is there trekking through snow now? What time should you get there on a Saturday to get a parking spot?

hiking
10 days ago

Great for pictures. Good exercise. Not difficult. Moderate traffic. 50 • when we started, about 35 with light rain, sleet, and snow as we approached the lake. May 11th. Highly recommend

hiking
12 days ago

Short but sweet trail! It was quite easy and passing the falls and lake was quite nice. I would rank it on the easy end of the moderate ranking. The higher up you go, the better the views. When we went there was a fair amount of people, but not enough to disturb or enjoyment.

I agree with other reviews in that parking was a problem if the lot is full.

hiking
12 days ago

What a gem! This trail is one of the best I've been on. It is a great hike for the family. It will be challenging for kids so maybe do a little train up with them first. There are a plenty of "stairs" to climb and places to stop off and enjoy the view. The lake at the end is an extraordinary reward for your effort. The only detraction from the experience is the lack of parking. Arrive early and you are rewarded with a spot next to restroom facilities and the trail head. Arrive after the lot fills up and you get to park precariously along the road and start your hike early.

hiking
14 days ago

Great view of tahoe! Brought my 5 year old son and we took our time to get to the lake. It was worth it when we got there. It was a bit hard for my son since the first mile is uphill along with muddy paths and rocks so wear good shoes to avoid injury. But overall it is a great place to see if you are ever in the area. Before you enter the parking lot there is a waterfall across the street that you can climb down to. Great for pictures.

hiking
15 days ago

This is a great trail. I saw many people trying to complete the trail in flip flops and just want to say you definitely need good hiking shoes. There are plenty places to slip and trip here. In my opinion this trail is almost all uphill and can be quite strenuous, we are hikers and I think maybe it's the distance only being 1.7 keeping this a moderate instead of hard.
Getting to the lake is so worth it. I would recommend this trail to anyone visiting Tahoe.
Also I agree with everyone else get there before 8:30am for a parking spot.

hiking
23 days ago

Parking - Plenty of parking if you get there early. We arrived at 8:00 am and basically had our choice of parking spots. When we left around 1:00 pm the lot was packed and people were circling to get a spot. Get there early.
Paying - Since the location is still closed, there was no fee. I believe the usual fee is $5.00 per vehicle and there are self-pay envelopes available when the trail is open.
Hiking - Awesome! Easily discernible trail with plenty of signage and carved steps. Take a few minutes to go up to the Vista Point. It offers a great lookout towards Emerald Bay and then loops you right back onto the main trail. The majority of incline is when hiking to the lake, which made hiking back to the car nice and easy. Be cautious over the few patches of snow and ice remaining.
Shooting - There are several cool scenes to photograph: a walking bridge, trail lines, Eagle Creek, and of course Eagle Lake. Get a great reflection shot by walking right up to the water's edge and holding your camera low near the surface of the lake. The shots turn out pretty well.
Eating - Definitely pack a lunch, some snacks, and water. You're going to want to enjoy the view with a meal and there are plenty of granite slabs to setup for a picnic. Always pack out what you pack in.
Highly recommended trail and views. It won't be my last time, that's for sure!

hiking
23 days ago

Hiked upper and lower Eagle Falls today. Short hikes so you can finish both in one day! The lake and waterfalls are breathtaking! I suggest arrive early. Parking lot is small and will be hard to find parking as this is one of the most popular trail. Good luck and enjoy the hike.

hiking
26 days ago

Stunning views and rock formations. A bit of snow melt on the trail, but still very do-able. Had a great day, and glad that we took the time to walk this trail!

26 days ago

Great hike many areas to take pictures spectacular views. April 24, 2018

hiking
26 days ago

As a kid growing up in NorCal hiking was just what you did on a day off be it to a lake, along a river, to a beach, or some trail in the Sierra’s or Costal range. I happened to have had the added bonus of having avid hikers for parents so the adventures were endless and I personally have hiked everything from “Are you sure we can call that a hiking trail?” to “Okay, am I going to make it out alive?” type trails.

I’m over 40, it’s the end of April so still snow in higher areas, I just had my sneaks on, no polls, and haven’t hiked more than a nature trail in ages. I would say I’m out of shape but that was pretty much my point of coming up here for 10 days and plotting out trails to do every day I was up here. I am getting back into hiking and decided to start off with some easy trails to test the waters of what I felt I could do. I call these trails the “Are you sure that we can really call that a hiking trail?” After a few of those I decided it was time to do a real trail.

Yes this is a real hiking trail it is not a nature trail, not for strollers, babies, tots, or little kids unless that kid is an avid hiker I’d probably go with a well behaved 10 and up who understands the rules of the trails. While it’s not going to kill you it does have some challenges along the way especially if there is still snow on the ground. You don’t need snow shoes but sneaks are probably not the best idea I’d go with an actual hiking shoe unless you plan to only make it to the lower falls or only do the loop (part of the “Are you sure I can call that a hike?” portion of the trail) anything above that grab a backpack, water, hiking shoes, and something to eat once you reach your destination and please be sure to stop, look around, and take in the scenery. There is plenty of wild life around if you stop to pay attention.

There are several places to go once you get further up the trail basically it’s about how far and how hard you want it to get. The higher you go the harder it gets. This is after all one of the entrances to Desolation Valley. However I can’t say it’s well marked as there are points along the way where you have to really watch where the trail picks back up. If your plan is to only make it to Eagle Lake then I’d say even the out of shape hiker should be able to make it to this point. For the avid hiker this part of the trail will be pretty easy. For those with short legs plan for high rock steps and to feel it in your thighs. Do come earlier and definitely avoid the weekends probably summers if you want to find parking and enjoy the trail with less people.

Overall for this out of shape over 40 year old it was perfect for getting back into a sport I’ve long missed doing regularly. It wasn’t boring, it wasn’t a stroll, it did require some thought, it had a good incline, it gave a slight challenge, but it wasn’t so difficult that I had to turn back. It was exactly what I was looking for and the view at the lake was worth the journey.

hiking
28 days ago

Great hike to beautiful lakes. We swam even though the water was freezing!

hiking
1 month ago

Great little hike, decent incline with a beautiful, clear blue lake at the end. Bring a picnic! Get here early or go mid week as it gets crowded and parking can be difficult. Make sure to park legally, they will tow you. Trail is marked well but the trails that link up from this trail can be hard to spot.

hiking
1 month ago

Ample parking available, fee and permit required (both supplied at trailhead). Lot filled up by mid-morning on a Sunday in early April, so arrive early, especially in the summer.

As of 4/8, the falls are at peak flow. The trail up to Vista point and the Eagle Creek Bridge is mostly clear of snow. Past the upper falls, the trail is ~90% covered in snow, but easily followable due to heavy traffic. Snowshoeing is an option, but it's entirely doable in hiking boots and trekking poles.

The lake is still frozen over with some flowing water near the Eastern tip of the lake. Snow covers the surrounding bowl and peaks, while the Eagle Lake Trail continues up (to Dicks Lake) through snow and ice. We turned back after reaching the lake despite our initial plan to ascend to vista point at 7,300; snowshoes would help that climb.

Though the waterfall was great and the gorges remarkably powerful, the trail was travelled and lacked the Tahoe backcountry feel. It's a great opportunity (especially when the snow melts) for families, dogs, etc. to visit an alpine lake, but full-day hikers should look elsewhere. Nearby Dicks/Fontanillis Lakes, Lake Aloha via Ralston Peak, or Tallac via Gilmore Lake are quality alternatives.

Keep in mind that the trailhead is near Lower Eagle Falls, Vikingsholm, Emerald Bay, and Cascade Falls. Pairing this hike with nearby landmarks would make for a full day.

walking
1 month ago

Lovely loop walk, currently still covered in snow so wear good shoes!

snowshoeing
1 month ago

Absolutely beautiful trail! We tried it out last weekend (beginning on April) and brought snowshoes. I don’t think you necessarily NEED snowshoes but I think it made it a lot easier and more fun because we were sliding around or falling into the slush. This trail is dog friendly and my dog had a BLAST. The views on the way to the lake are breathtaking, and getting to the lake was so gorgeous. My dog got to swim around a bit and it was just a 3-ish mile hike round-trip. There are a few parts that have slight incline but overall it was a pretty mellow hike. I will definitely be back!

3 months ago

High return on investment in this short hike to a beautiful lake. Right now there’s a lot of packed snow and some ice on the second half of the trail. Micro spikes were helpful.

3 months ago

This is the second time I have been on the trail. Two days ago the weather was perfect but yesterday it warmed up and the snow melted and turned to ice. The entire trail was icy and dangerous. We made it there and back and still had fun but just a warning to be careful after warm days!

Still beautiful and would do again!

hiking
3 months ago

I loved everything about this trail. It's right behind Emerald Bay and you can view the Vikingsholm at the bottom. The drive alone was worth it. The trail was easily accessible even with the snow. It lead to Eagle Lake which was entirely frozen over. The trip took about an 1.5 hrs, and we took our time and made a few stops! Really enjoyed this trail and would love to do it again.

hiking
4 months ago

This was a beautiful and fairly easy trail. Most of the beginning is uphill, with lots of stone steps that are covered in icy snow right now. We got lucky because the trail was fairly easy to see even though it had just snowed the day before. The lake is completely frozen over right now, so it’s definitely a beautiful sight. Would highly recommend!

hiking
4 months ago

We walked this trail last summer with our little ones in the backpack carriers. It was beautiful and the lake itself was perfect for the babies to play in.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike with views of Tahoe and Eagle Lake. The lake itself was still frozen and was stable to walk out on. The trail has some extremely icy patches, with the worst section right after the bridge crossing at Eagle Falls - make sure you have hiking boots and take it carefully!

4 months ago

Very beautiful hike,but need to be careful with icy paths.

Make sure to wear micro-spikes or similar if you’re doing a winter hike. It gets icy! Worth it to go to the vista and out to the lake, but you’re asking for a broken arm if you don’t have spikes!

hiking
5 months ago

I will never forget this as it was my first ever and favorite hike. It was breathtaking every step of the way!

Beautiful hike. A bit icy in parts making some parts a bit treacherous. I guess that's one (only) advantage of a dry December that you can get to experience this area. Once it starts snowing the road can be closed. Amazing views on Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, and this entrance to the Desolation Wilderness. Hockey players were enjoying the lake in the am but right now I wouldn't go out on the ice after midday.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike. There are some icy parts now (mid Dec) - but the extra caution in those areas is well worth taking for the view of the lake. Ice skaters were enjoying the lake as well. Don’t be put off by the numerous cars - most visitors don’t go beyond the entry to the park.

hiking
6 months ago

Views every step of the way

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