Floating Island & Cathedral Lakes Trail

MODERATE 34 reviews

Floating Island & Cathedral Lakes Trail is a 4.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near South Lake Tahoe, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
4.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1197 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

trail running

lake

views

hiking
1 month ago

Some snow and ice on the trail but totally manageable with shoes that have good traction. Excellent views of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake! A great way to spend a sunny and warm December day. You park at the intersection of the road so there is an extra mile of walking before you get to the actual trailhead.

hiking
2 months ago

I started this trail with my parents. The plan was just to get to Floating Island Lake. My stepdad wasn't used to the altitude, but my mom and I made it.
It was an easy hike for myself, but maybe a little steep or tiresome if you don't hike or aren't used to the altitude.
Make sure to turn around so you can see Lake Tahoe, it is a lovely view. This trail was pretty crowded on a Saturday morning. It was the day after a light snow, so there was snow patches and ice, which was nice.

hiking
3 months ago

Wonderful hike with fantastic views and lots of beautiful peaks and fall foliage. We went with our dogs, including two seniors. The hike is a bit hard for elderly dogs but since ours were small, we carried them through the rocky sections to save their knees.

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing scenic beauty and pleasurable hike. Visited this lake on the trail hike to Mt Tallac. Rating this as 2nd beautiful lake after Lake Margaret

hiking
5 months ago

Stunning views of Lake Tahoe & Fallen Leaf Lake on the way to Cathedral lake

hiking
6 months ago

From trailhead to Cathedral Lake was 5.6 miles round trip (according to my husband's Strava) with an elevation climb of 1200 feet. It took us 2.5 hours with stops at both lakes. We watched a bear swim & catch fish in Floating Island Lake. We enjoyed lunch at Cathedral Lake. Beautiful views of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. Initially climb from the trailhead was the steepest. Once you walk along the ridge above Fallen Leaf Lake the climb becomes more gradual. Easy to follow trail paved with river rocks.

hiking
6 months ago

I loved this trail! It is a little difficult, especially because of the snowfall you have to pass through some mini waterfalls. (But it is very do-able)
I hiked this trail last week and couldn't get to the lake because the trail was covered in snow. We still got a beautiful view and had a mini snowball fight! It was worth it to me, but if you feel like you need a destination to hike too then maybe try this trail in late July or August when the snow melts!

hiking
Monday, October 10, 2016

My father and I completed the entirety of this trail before sunrise en route to Mount Tallac's summit. This trail is a great, scenic option if you don't feel as if you have the stamina, determination, or materials necessary to summit Mount Tallac. However, the notorious views aren't on this trail, but rather on the trail starting after Cathedral Lake.

The incline is not as strenuous, in my opinion, as others have suggested. It's a peaceful 1,000 foot elevation gain with scenic views and occasional meadows- definitely not difficult. The trail quality, however, is not quite up to par. A great quantity of this trail is on loose and/or protruding rocks that are the product of washout from Tallac's melted snow.

The two lakes, while modest in size, are clear and extremely beautiful. They're better defined as washbowls: stagnant, melted water that collect at the base of peaks. They're great for photography, a cooling dip, or a picnic, but respect the Desolation Wilderness campers that take shelter by Cathedral Lake.

Additionally, beware of yellowjackets. Start early, at sunrise, to help alleviate some of the challenging uphill; hiking in the dark limits your visibility, meaning you take the trail one step at a time. This helps mentally due to the fact that you cannot view the incline that you have to undertake. Furthermore, the yellowjackets are only prevalent after sunrise, so go early if you wish to avoid them.

If you're feeling energetic after Cathedral Lake, I encourage you to try summiting Mount Tallac. Even if you fail, you'll always possess the indescribable views that are only seen on the stretch of trails after Cathedral Lake. Have fun, and bring enough water!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Nice hike, steep uphill to begin. Rocky once you get to the flat, I wouldn't recommend young kids. Views looking back over Fallen Leaf Lake and South Lake Tahoe were my favorite!
No fee to park but you'll need to fill out the desolation wilderness pass (free)

Disclaimer: there are a ton of angry yellow jackets the whole way so be prepared.

hiking
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The lake is more of a pond, really. My puppy is fairly young so I wanted to take her on a short trip, and this was definitely a good start for both of us. It's a big of a climb beginning from the Mt Tallac trailhead, but when you reach the higher ground you have a beautiful view of fallen leaf and Lake Tahoe beside and behind you. The lake is fairly clean and the water is warmer than I expected it to be. The number of people on the trail was a little much for me, as I went on a weekday and expected less traffic. I could tell a lot of people were gonna be turning back after the first serious gain in elevation when I told them it was a consistent uphill trek. Not a bad hike but not the most rewarding one either.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pleasant hike past several beautiful lakes.

hiking
Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pleasant hike past a pair of small lakes on the way to the top of Mt. Tallac.

hiking
Monday, August 08, 2011

pleasant jaunt up well-maintained trail with good views of fallen leaf lake and Mt. Tallac along the way.

hiking
Friday, August 05, 2011

Beautiful hiking trail that parallels Fallen Leaf Lake for a good ways. Cathedral and Floating Islands Lakes are pristine, lovely Alpine lakes that people wade and swim in. The starting at Mt. Tallac Trail is how to get to the the lakes. After seeing it, if you're going to Tallac, starting at the Glen Alpine Trailhead is an easier way to go.

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