Eagle Lake Trail

MODERATE 476 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.

hiking
3 days 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
13 days 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
13 days ago

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

snowshoeing
17 days 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!

2 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.

2 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
2 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
3 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
3 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
3 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!

3 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
4 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
4 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
5 months ago

Views every step of the way

5 months ago

Good and easy go.

5 months ago

Great

hiking
5 months ago

Fairly difficult beginning up the granite stairs but the climb is so worth it. amazing views along the trail and the lake is gorgeous. Will defiantly revisit this trail and the desolation wilderness area.

5 months ago

Love this hike! Great views and good balance of challenge and leisurely

hiking
5 months ago

Great end of October, crisp and beautiful view !

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike! We took our time, stopping here and there to enjoy the view. A little crowded (end of October). Wish more people kept their dogs on leash, not because I don't like doggies, but some part of the trail are a little narrow and a dog running into you could be dangerous, specially for kids. We'll do it again with friends, for sure :)

hiking
5 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike with beautiful views.

hiking
5 months ago

Very mellow hike up to Eagle Lake with gorgeous views of fall foliage this time of year. Plenty of hammocking trees surround the lake as well !

hiking
6 months ago

This is a very nice easy trail. We encountered a grizzly bear on the way and were lucky enough that he decided to go the other way!!! It was awesome !!

hiking
6 months ago

We did the exact same route as Emily Collins. Check in the recordings to find her trail.
We kept on going after the eagle lake and we did a loop via the granite lake. There was nobody on the trail after we passed the lake.
About 11km loop, such a good loop! Thanks Emily!

6 months ago

Excellent hike! Beautiful views. Would do this again for sure!

6 months ago

Easy trail, beautiful view of lake on top, a bit rocky at the very top.

hiking
6 months ago

We got there at about 9:30 am on a Sunday and it was CROWDED. We almost left. As soon as we got up past the falls there was hardly anyone on the trail. So glad we kept going, so beautiful and so worth while!

We started on the Eagle Lake Trail then continued on into the Desolation Wilderness and made a big loop taking us to Maggie's Peaks and Granite Lake. The last part on the roadway was not the best due to narrow shoulder, but there are lots of other folks walking and it is doable. Definitely recommend doing it in this direction, I think going around the loop in the other direction would be much tougher.

Load More