Best trails in South Lake Tahoe, California

12,618 Reviews
Looking for a great trail near South Lake Tahoe, California? AllTrails has 91 great hiking trails, trail running trails, mountain biking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. If you're looking for the best trails around D. L. Bliss State Park or Van Sickle Bi-State Park, we've got you covered. You'll also find some great local park options, like Spooner Lake Management Area or Davis Creek County Park. Ready for some activity? There are 48 moderate trails in South Lake Tahoe ranging from 1.2 to 18.5 miles and from 6,253 to 9,717 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
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Map of trails in South Lake Tahoe, California
Top trails (91)
#1 - Mount Tallac Trail
Desolation Wilderness
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(2256)
Length: 10.9 mi • Est. 6 h 23 m
There is parking alongside the street. A wilderness permit is required. You must purchase the permit before arriving to the Mt. Tallac Trailhead. Day hikers may pick up the permit at the self-service area. The jewel in the crown of mountains which ring Lake Tahoe, Mount Tallac promises unparalleled views from its summit 9,735ft above sea level. Unparalleled vistas await the Tahoe hiker on a memorable journey to this beautiful peak. This route takes you to the top via the most direct summer route through lush forest, along scenic ridgelines, past small alpine lakes and across blazingly colorful wildflower strewn high-altitude meadows. Sure the 3,500ft elevation gain is greater than you might experience on most day hikes, but both the journey and the destination are worth every single thigh-burning step. The summit is very rocky and can be confusing. Make sure you have a good understanding of your whereabouts so you can easily find your way back down. Sunscreen is a MUST. Totally exposed for long sections.Show more
#2 - Rubicon Trail
D. L. Bliss State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(972)
Length: 16.4 mi • Est. 8 h 10 m
D.L. Bliss State Park is CLOSED to vehicular traffic for the winter (approximately mid-October). When the park gate is closed, pedestrians may park at the Visitor's Center near highway 89 and access the park from sunrise-sunset. It is an approximately 1 mile hike from the Vistor's Center to the closest Rubicon Trailhead, and a steep 2 mile hike to the beaches. All park regulations apply during the off-season. No restrooms or water available. SUMMER: $10 fee per vehicle is due for entering the park Two parks in a day - D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay State Parks. The Rubicon Trail along the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe is a gem! It's easily accessible and has some of the best views on Tahoe. It's absolutely a hike one can look forward to repeatedly. The Rubicon covers a lot of terrain. There are flats, undulating short elevation gains and drops, and twists along some stunning shoreline cliffs. The trail dips into secluded coves, and along easily accessible shorelines in Emerald Bay. At both the beginning of the trail and end are a campgrounds, also along the south shore of Emerald Bay, you can find active nesting area for Eagles. Tree coverage includes sugar pines in D.L. Bliss and overall coverage throughout the balance including ponderosa and Jeffrey pines, firs, incense cedar, and Sierra juniper. Along the streams grow alders, quaking aspen, mountain dogwood, service berry and bitter cherry, and black cottonwood. Wildflowers include columbine, leopard lily, lupine, bleeding heart, yellow monkey flower and nightshade. The bulk of the brush includes ceanothus, chinquapin, currant, gooseberry, huckleberry, and manzanita. Show more
#3 - Echo Lakes Trail
Desolation Wilderness
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(754)
Length: 5.3 mi • Est. 2 h 29 m
This is a great trail for anyone that is looking for a moderately challenging, incredibly scenic, and dog-friendly hike in South Lake Tahoe. During the winter, it makes for a wonderful snowshoe trip. Views throughout the trail are fantastic.Show more
#4 - Vikingsholm Trail
Emerald Bay State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(857)
Length: 1.7 mi • Est. 56 m
Vikingsholm Trail starts from the stone observation area above Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe, about 9 miles north of South Lake Tahoe in the northern Sierra Nevada. This is a moderate, dirt and paved road hike (with about a 400-foot elevation change) from the parking lot to bottom of Emerald Bay, but be prepared to hike back up. Parking fills up early so parking on the road may be necessary. At the end of the trail you can take the Vikingsholm Castle tour available 7 days a week from mid-June until the end of September from 10am to 4pm. All tours are guided and take approximately one-half hour. You can also hike the short trail to Lower Eagle Falls which begins directly across from the castle or relax at Emerald Bay Beach. The authentic replica of the Viking castle is part of Emerald Bay State Park which was designated an underwater California state park in 1994. In 1969, Emerald Bay was designated a National Natural Landmark for its brilliant panorama of mountain-building processes and glacier carved granite. The natural beauty, geology and history of this unique island make it one of the highlights of any visit to the Lake Tahoe area. A nominal fee is charged. Bring a lunch and enjoy the fabulous view of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island from the shoreline picnic area. Pets are not allowed. Swimming, camping and boating are also popular Tahoe activities at the park. Visitors can access nearby hiking trails including the Rubicon Trail in D.L. Bliss State Park and Cascade Falls and Eagle Lake in Desolation Wilderness. Accessibility: This trail is not considered fully wheelchair/mobility equipment or stroller friendly because it has a steep grade (between 8% and 15%). The trail surface is partially-paved and partially-dirt. Only the first 0.03 miles of the south side of the Vikingsholm trail is considered accessible, as well as the first 0.03 miles of the trail to the Visitor Center from Vikingsholm. However, there is a special shuttle service that escorts people with mobility disabilities down to the Vikingsholm area. Call (530) 525-7232 for availability and more information.Show more
#5 - Floating Island and Cathedral Lakes Trail
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(273)
Length: 5.5 mi • Est. 2 h 42 m
#6 - Tamarack Lake
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(297)
Length: 7.4 mi • Est. 3 h 35 m
Delightful secluded lake on Tahoe Rim Trail. Trail is short, but the climb is rocky. There is often a water taxi available at Echo Lake for some of the journey back. Please note that the water taxi does not run when water levels are low. Don't let the modest distance/gain to Tamarack fool you. This is such a rocky climb you can wear out just trying to keep your footing, especially if not used to hiking at almost 7,800 ft. Views of Echo lakes and surrounding peaks are incredibly breathtaking, with flowers, aspens, pines, critters. Tamarack Lake is a perfect destination for beginners, small children, or the 1st overnight hike trip. Horses are allowed but trail is very rocky, with large boulders & many smaller, loose rocks covering the trail (hard on dog paws). The water taxi is great fun, but waiting for it may add up to an hour to your hike. Thrilling when the boat slows in narrow channel between upper & lower Echo lakes. Continue on the Tahoe Rim Trail past the signed turn to Tamarack, you'll reach Lake Aloha just past the meadows -- worth the longer, more strenuous hike. Permits are required to hike in the Desolation Wilderness (n/c) & are available at both upper/lower Echo lakes.Show more
#7 - Glen Alpine Trail
Desolation Wilderness
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(325)
Length: 6.8 mi • Est. 3 h 39 m
#8 - Granite Lake, Dick's Lake, Velma Lake, and Eagle Lake Loop
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(189)
Length: 11.7 mi • Est. 6 h 33 m
A trek through Lake Tahoe's Desolation Wilderness past several lakes including Granite Lake, Dick's Lake, Velma Lake, Fontanillis Lake, and Eagle Lake. This hike provides a great tour of some of the best features of Desolation Wilderness. It is great for a 2-day, 1-night backpacking trip on a weekend or for a long day hike. All lakes along this hike are spectacular and are great for swimming. There are a number steep sections, particularly near the beginning and end of the hike, but the views make up for it. For a customizable summer weekend backpacking trip, this loop is a solid choice. With six lakes along the route, you don’t need to decide in advance how far you want to go, just start hiking from the Bayview Trailhead and see how you feel as you go.! This loop is challenging in terms of elevation, but it’s a good choice for newer backpackers. If you wind up getting tired early, there will be a lake nearby waiting to raise your spirits and the trail is easy to navigate. The views, the opportunities for swimming, and the ability to spread out away from other campers make this a weekend worthy trip you will love. Get there early to ensure that you get a parking spot, and print out your free permit in advance. Overnight permits are subject to a quota from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend to September 30, and must be carried with you. Permits can be reserved up to six months in advance. Outside of the quota season, permits can be booked and printed on the day of entry. Dogs are welcome, but need to be under control. Campfires are prohibited in Desolation Wilderness and group sizes are limited to 12 people or less. Camping is dispersed camping and there are no facilities. Show more
#9 - Angora Lakes Trail
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(272)
Length: 1.2 mi • Est. 38 m
Note: the road to this trailhead is subject to seasonal closures. Although you can drive into the lake itself, this small out-and-back hike will give you more reason to relax in the cool water of Angora Lake once you arrive. $10 parking feeShow more
#10 - Emerald Point Trail
Emerald Bay State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(178)
Length: 4.4 mi • Est. 2 h 7 m
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