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Floating Island and Cathedral Lakes Trail

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Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

Floating Island and Cathedral Lakes Trail is a 5.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near South Lake Tahoe, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and running and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 5.5 mi Elevation gain 1,197 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Kid friendly

Hiking

Running

Lake

Views

Waypoints (0)
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (226)
Photos (771)
Recordings (178)
Completed (1550)
Ram Parimi
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HikingGreat!

Great trail! Can do it in 2 hrs. Beautiful views!

Amanda O.
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Great trail with beautiful views of fallen leaf lake & Tahoe. The trail is VERY rocky. Also the lakes are more like ponds, still beautiful but not ideal for swimming.

Jennifer Bingham
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 31, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful vistas of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe in the distance. Both Floating Island Lake and Cathedral Lake were pretty in their own way. Rocky trail so hiking shoes are a good idea. Next time, I’ll probably bring my trekking polls and continue to the Mt Tallac summit. Agree with another reviewer that the mileage listed is not correct - my tracker has this as 5.6 miles from trailhead to Cathedral Lake and back.

Audi Hart
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
HikingRocky

Beautiful vistas, shaded in some parts, uphill for the first half. It’s pretty rocky so bring sturdy shoes.

Jason Hatami
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HikingRocky
View Jason's Recording
John Rosenthal
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Hiking

One of our favorites. Just the right length for moderate hikers. Elevation gain is challenging but not too hard. And great for dogs who like to swim. Our calculations put this hike at 5.6 miles round trip, not 4.7.

Gustavo Carranza Jr.
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HikingRocky
View Gustavo's Recording
Nick Lawrence
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 14, 2020
Hiking

Wonderful hike, with gorgeous views of Fallen Leaf Lake and Tahoe. The lakes were more like ponds, Mostly forested so good for a hot day. Happy dog = happy dad. It is pretty much all uphill but not challenging

View Nick's Recording
Valerie Dynda
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 12, 2020
Hiking

Awesome hike, challenging but not grueling for this portion of the hike heading up to Tallac! You get to look over Fallen Leaf Lake for a good stretch of the hike about a mile in. Took me just under 2 hours to reach Cathedral and 1 hr to come back from that point. Both lakes felt so peaceful and secluded, especially when most people were already heading out of the trail. I saw some campers at Cathedral which seems like a fun idea.

Shiloh Lange Loftis
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Hiking

Great views, good exercise, highly recommend.

View Shiloh's Recording
Whit Eldridge
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Hiking

Our hike was just to Floating Island Lake and back, 4 miles total. Hiked 30 min uphill until we got to the saddle. Then along the saddle for about an hour, hot sun but some shade, magnificent views of Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe and Tallac Mtn. The last 20 min up through a thicker forest until we topped out at the small Floating Island Lake, about 100 feet across (not sure where the floating island was). Good for a refresher swim, a bit rocky to get in, then grassy where deeper. Not as cold as Lake Tahoe, but bracing. The return trip was beautiful and easier. Note: this was with a 7 year old so everything took longer.

View Whit's Recording
Kayla Baxter
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 4, 2020
HikingRocky

Amazing trail! Get there early! Parking can be hard and it’s a busy trail. Kid friendly and dog friendly on leash. The views are incredible

Brent Vogel
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HikingBlowdown
View Brent's Recording
Molly Sicard
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HikingGreat!

Awesome spots! Stopped at both on the way to Tallac and it wasn't too hard to get to either lake! Would definitely recommend it. Definitely make sure to arrive early as parking is pretty limited.

Ryan Nahe
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 21, 2020

Other reviewers are correct, the hike is about 6 miles. We got there closer to 9:30 and the parking was PACKED. There is parking along the road and you'll have to walk anywhere up to 1 mile to the trail head. I'd say get there by 8 to avoid larger crowds and to practice social distancing. The trail is very rocky and was a bit rough on our dog's paws. I'd recommend bringing some hiking booties for your dog. A group coming down said they've seen dogs get evacuated from there because they couldn't make it down. Beautiful views from the top and well worth the hike. Be prepared for the altitude and large crowds.

Andrea Campion
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We took our kids 12 and 13 - agree with steady incline but easy to pass time with the rewards of first - stunning views of fallen leaf from the ridge, then the first small pond around mile 2 and then the last pond up at mile 3 (and if you go just a few feer beyond /up where the trail continues you will find a great set of rocks to sit on and overlook the little pond - great place to eat at!) Agree with someone's estimate of 6 miles (I logged it at 6 two days in a row).

Mila Zernich
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Hiking

Steady incline but very manageable and even doable for families.

Amy Brown
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Hiking

Beautiful, well kept trail with stunning scenery. The elevation gain is steady throughout the hike, but nothing crazy, making it great for families with young kids. As of the end of May 2020, there’s a tiny bit of snow on the trail, but it’s almost completely free of snow/water. We tracked this hike at 6 miles.

Cam Wiebe
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HikingRocky
View Cam's Recording
Madi Griffin
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HikingMuddyRocky

Backpacked into Floating Island Lake on this trail and it was awesome! With a 30 lbs pack it was hard but it should be perfect for any beginning/moderate hiker to accomplish. The second half of the trail got muddy but it was not that bad, hiking shoes would definitely help on this trail through the loose rocks but not necessarily needed.

Sebastian Gonzalez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 21, 2020
Hiking

Very beginner/intermediate hiker friendly, especially for those who might've even forgotten the proper shoes Nice vistas with an overlook above both Lake Tahoe and Cathedral Lake. We didn't hike all the way down, just up to the "peak" which rises above Cathedral Lake with giant cliffs behind you. Amazing spot to get a good 360 degree all around view. Highly recommend for intermediate or family friendly any age trail

View Sebastian's Recording
Theodin User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 13, 2020
HikingIcySnow

I hiked this route Sunday 1/12/20 (without crampons or snowshoes) Difficulty: Strenuous 75% uphill, moderate to steep grades depending if you stay on path or not. The trailhead started at the parking lot just off the street due to the gate being closed, so it's about .5 of fairly icy paved road to get to the actual Mt. Tallac Trailhead. The conditions going up were icy and slick in spots, but if you're from a winter climate you shouldn't have much trouble, if not, here's a tip!: take smaller, tighter steps. After the first overlook of Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake (breathtaking scenery from every direction) the snow became more pronounced and became significantly less icy (except for a couple of spots). I'm 6'2 205lbs and after reaching Floating Island, without snowshoes, I sank boot deep, and to my knee a couple times on my approach to Cathedral. Including a detour up to a nameless peak on the way which was difficult, but every bit worth the experience!

charis anderson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 29, 2019
HikingRocky
View charis's Recording
Rouben C.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 21, 2019
Hiking

Lovely trail, parking lot was full, but lots of parking on road. First 3/4 mile is uphill. Then flat on a ridge with Fallen Leaf Lake to the left and Tahoe behind. The trail them veers into the forest and clumbs up. Floating Lake is at 2 miles with Cathedral Lake another 1/3 mile. Very nice scenary. Enough people so we were not alone without being crowded.

Jeff Larson
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Hiking

awesome trail, busy so get there early

Syd R
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 26, 2019
Hiking

Nice views! It’s same trail as mt tallac so it’s up all way. Also lots people going to mt tallac so not alone. Also get parking lot before 9am as it fills quickly. It’s a good trail, lots to see. Worth doing.

View Syd's Recording
Alexis Murray
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 25, 2019
HikingBugsRocky

This trail is rocky and steep, but so worth it! There was no actual floating island when I got there but I have seen pictures of the floating sod islands that can occur. Cathedral lake is deffinitely deep enough to swim in and feels wonderful! I did see a bear there today foraging berries but it didnt seem to interested in any of us hikers. This is a popular trail and you're likely to see lots of hiker friends all around. I broke my femur about a year and a half ago and so generally dont push myself to hard.....it took me aprox. 2 hours to get up there.

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