Lake Tahoe – Hiking the Lake of the Sky

Hiking is a popular recreational activity for most visitors to Lake Tahoe. The trailheads provide an opportunity to navigate the area and explore the beauty of the lake and surrounding vegetation. Hiking trails range in length, difficulty and popularity with respect to the view allowed. Some popular trailheads are listed below:

  • The Pacific Crest Trail – The PCT is a long distance trail closely aligned with the highest point of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. It is 2,659miles long with a ranging elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon-Washington border to 13,153ft at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. It enters the Granite Chief wilderness on the north, below Granite Chief Peak and exits south of Twin Peaks. The PCT can be considered from 7 segments – Granite Chief Trail junction, Squaw Valley Trail junction, Tevis Cup Trail junction, Western States Trail, Whiskey Creek Trail, Five Lakes Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail junction. Due to the difficulty and length of the PCT, it is nearly impossible for a visitor to the Lake to explore it in its entirety. So, the trail is explored from the smaller trails (segments), some of which are offshoots of the PCT.
     
  • Tahoe Rim Trail: This 165 mile trailhead offers both biking and hiking opportunities. It is one of the most famous trails around the Lake. Its extension round the Lake makes it a unique one as it provides an amazing view of the Lake. Also, about 50miles of this trail is part of the longer Pacific Crest Trail.
     
  • Granite Chief Trailhead: It is the most used out of the 8 trailheads located in the Granite Chief wilderness. It is close to both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski areas; this accounts for its popularity.
     
  • Western States Trail is a strenuous trailhead located within the Granite Chief wilderness. It begins on the west side of Whiskey Creek and continues steadily to the Sierra crest after which it drops along hairpin bends into Picayune Valley where it follows Picayune Creek down to the middle fork of the American River. The trail terminates at Talbot campground across the river.
     
  • Eagle Falls (or Eagle Lake) Trailhead: It’s located within Emerald Bay state park on the western shore of Lake Tahoe. Families and small kids can participate in a moderate hike by reaching the Eagle Lake which is only 1 mile from the start point. Intermediate and expert hikers could also continue with the trail leading to Desolation Wilderness.
     
  • Cascade Creek Falls Hike is one of the short hikes which provide views of the Lake and the wilderness. It is very suitable for beginners and fun. Hiking on this trail provides a great way to view the Lake from the “Sky” due to elevation. The trail terminates at the beautiful Cascade Falls.
     
  • Glacier Meadows Loop is another short distance loop which is only 0.5 miles in length. The informational signs along the path provide details on how the surface landscape became polished by glacial action.