Even the legendary Mark Twain was so impressed and awe-struck with Tahoe's beauty that he said "I thought it must be the fairest picture the whole earth affords." Who could argue with him that the gorgeous mountains, streams, lakes and waterfalls that Lake Tahoe provides are not some of the most amazing views that one could ever observe in their lifetime. A great way for many to become one with Tahoe's natural elegance is by hiking it's spectacular trails. From Desolation Wilderness to the Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay, there are fewer places in the world to soak up such astonishing beauty. Be prepared though because the weather conditions can change from minute to minute in this wonderland, so bring warm clothes with you and proper equipment for any circumstances that may arise.
Maps, tips and regulations can be obtained from the Forest Service Office.
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Hiking in and around Lake Tahoe
Angora Lakes Trail / South Lake Tahoe
Angora Lakes Trail Angora Lakes is a nice easy hike of approximately 1/2 mile at 7450' elevation, easy to get to and well worth the hike. This fabulous destination will reward the hiker with a wonderful day of swimming, fishing, boating or even cliff jumping (but be careful, lots of folks get hurt jumping off of Angora's steep cliffs). There are summer cabins to rent as well as boats, so there is some nice amenities there. The resort is located at upper Angora Lake.
Directions - Take Lake Tahoe Blvd. through the 'Y' (do not follow hwy 50 or Hwy 89) and then turn right at Tahoe Mountain Road (about two miles). Follow the road until you must turn. From there all you have to do is follow the signs that will lead you to Angora Ridge Road. You can also access Angora by taking Hiway 89 north approximately three miles from the 'Y' to Fallen Leaf Lake Road and turn left. Turn left at the first paved road. Continue to Forest Service Road 12N14 and turn right. Continue past Angora Lookout to the road's end at the parking lot.
Echo Lakes Trail / South Lake Tahoe
Echo Lakes Trail There is an array of Alpine lakes on these easy to moderate beautiful trails. There is boating, waterskiing, fishing and of course, breath taking views here. There are boat rentals at the resort and plenty of parking for all enthusiasts. Elevation varies from 7400' - 8400'.
Directions - Take U.S. HWY 50 to Echo Summit and turn onto Johnson Pass Road. Stay left and the road will lead you to the parking area at Lower Echo Lake. There is a boat shuttle that will taxi offered that takes a few miles off of your hike if desired. Wilderness permits are required.
Hiking distance to nearby lakes: A) 2.5 miles to Upper Echo Lake. B) 4 miles to Tamarack. C) 5 miles to Lucille and Margery. D) 5 miles to Lake of the Woods. E) 6 miles to Aloha Lake.
Eagle Falls Trail
Eagle Falls Trail This trail will lead you into Desolation Wilderness, this is a moderate to advanced uphill trail at 6600' - 7000'. The views of the Sierra Mountains are outstanding and Eagle Lake will take you about 1/2 hour to get to. If you hike further you will arrive at the three Velmas, Dicks, and Fontanillis Lakes.
Directions - Take Hiway 89 north approximately eight miles from the 'Y' in South Lake Tahoe to Eagle Falls Picnic Area on the left. Wilderness permits are required.
Hiking distance to nearby lakes: A) 4.5 miles to Dicks, Upper & Middle Velmas. B) 5 miles to Fontanillis.
Mt. Tallac Mt. Tallac is a long-time favorite at 9700' for many hikers who want to see beautiful views of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This hike will deliver awesome views and breath-taking scenery for every hiker. There is no shortage of wonderful sights, plenty of wildlife to see and Desolation Wilderness. This is a tougher hike though and plenty strenuous so make sure you're good and rested the night before because you'll need your energy levels at their peak to conquer this gorgeous mountain. Wilderness permits are required. Day hikers, pick up your permit at the self serve area at the trailhead. Overnight hikers will need an overnight permit for Desolation Wilderness. This permit must be purchased before you get to the Mt. Tallac Trailhead.
Directions - The trailhead is located approximately 3-1/2 miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89. Look for the Mt. Tallac Trailhead sign directly across from the entrance to Baldwin Beach. Turn left down the dirt road and continue to the trailhead parking.
Vikingsholm Trail This easy to moderate 1 mile hike will take you down to Emerald Bay where you will get to see an authentic replica of a Viking castle which is part of the Emerald Bay State Park. Tours are available in the summer but there are no pets allowed on this trail so you'll have to leave 'Fido' at home for this hiking venture. Don't let that stop you though because this is a wonderful hike for all enthusiasts. View the Vikingsholm as well as beautiful Emerald Bay and Fannette Island.
Directions - Take Highway 89 north from South Lake Tahoe approximately 9 miles.
Moraine Trail Moraine Trail will take hikers through a nice easy hike through the surrounding forest of majestic Fallen Leaf Lake. This is a good trail for families as it is easy to traverse and fun for kids and adults. Bring your swim suit and fishing pole so you can enjoy Fallen Leaf to its fullest.
Directions - Take Highway 89 north approximately 3 miles from the 'Y' in South Lake Tahoe to Fallen Leaf Lake Road. Continue about 2/3 of a mile to Fallen Leaf Campground. Drive through the campground and park just before campsite #75 on the right. There is no fee for day use. In the winter, when the campground is closed, you must park just beyond Fallen Leaf Campground off of Fallen Leaf Lake Road and walk to the trailhead.
Horsetail Falls / South Lake Tahoe
The Horsetail Falls hike is a spectacularly scenic hike in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The views are amazing but the hike can be quite a task if you're not in good physical shape. There is plenty of places to cool off in the creek with nice wading and swimming pools. Use extreme caution though because people have died of drowning from the streams strong current. Avalanche Lake is a spectacular Alpine lake that will delight all hikers who brave the strenuous trail to the top of Horsetail Falls.
Directions - Along Hiway 50 at Twin Bridges, 2 miles east of Strawberry. From Echo Summit go towards Placerville approximately 10 -15 miles and you'll see the falls on your right.
There is so much spectacular scenery to see in Desolation Wilderness I don't know where to begin, these scenic trails will wind you through some of the most beautiful areas that you have ever seen. With views of the Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe you will be quite pleased to traverse these trails. From Loon Lake to Twin Lakes there is plenty of serene beauty to indulge in.
Directions - There are so many entrances to Desolation that you should let the Forest Service help you get your bearings.
Clark Trail is another fantastic hike for those who like to push the physical envelope. This hike can be strenuous and has some steep grades that need to be traversed with caution and expertise. At the end of this wonderful 1 and 1/2 mile hike one can unwind in beautiful Angora Lakes.
Directions - Take SR 89 north from South Lake Tahoe to Fallen Leaf Lake Road. Parking is located at the Glen Alpine Trailhead. From the parking area, walk back down the road to the junction of Fallen Leaf Lake Road. Look for the small church to your right. A little post located behind the church marks the hard-to-find trailhead.
Cabo Wabo Tahoe
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