When Tahoe is covered in snow, you may feel the urge to curl up by a warm fire instead of head out in wintry conditions but some of the best Tahoe experiences are had in the winter! In addition to skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing offers a fun way to explore a white wonderland with numerous trails in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Check out a few of our recommended snowshoe hikes below.
Snow means more fun and adventure outside! Courtesy: The Ridge Tahoe
Castle Rock: The closest snowshoe hike to the Ridge Tahoe is Castle Rock, an easy to moderate snowshoe hike with views of Lake Tahoe along the way. This trail, which includes parts of the Tahoe Rim Trail, can be accessed via Kingsbury Grade and is a 2.8-mile loop with less than 600 elevation gain.
Vikingsholm: Situated in iconic Emerald Bay, the Vikingsholm Trail is a great option for an easy snowshoe hike under two miles. Elevation gain is minimal during this hike that takes you to the shores of Emerald Bay where Vikingsholm Castle resides. This home, which was designed in the Scandinavian style, is not the only striking part of this hike – hikers will also be privy to up-close views of the only island in Tahoe, Fannette Island.
Watch Eagle Falls rush into Emerald Bay after a hike to Eagle Lake. Photo credit: Kyle McCoy / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
Eagle Lake: Close by to Vikingsholm is Eagle Lake, accessible by the Eagle Lake Trailhead. A very popular hike for families, this short trail takes hikers to a serene alpine lake and is accessible during the winter months. Stop by Eagle Falls across the highway to see where Eagle Lake’s water ends up.
Van Sickle Bi-State Park: For those interested in epic views of the South Shore and Lake Tahoe, Van Sickle Bi-State Park is an ideal setting for snowshoeing. Hikers can choose to go as short or as far as they prefer, though the trailhead to Tahoe Rim trail is just over three miles and includes stunning vistas of the lake.
The Ridge Tahoe also offers snowshoe tours, as well as rentals for guests. Other great options for snowshoeing around the Basin includes Fallen Leaf Lake, Rabe Meadows, and Nevada Beach.
Experience a new world of winter hiking when snowshoeing. Photo credit: Kyle Smaine / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
Before heading out to snowshoe, there are a few things to consider:
- Check the weather forecast before heading out to snowshoe. Though a trail may seem easy, it can become treacherous if it’s icy or temperatures are low.
- Know your limits! If you’re uncomfortable on a trail, don’t push it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Pack extra necessities including clothing, food, and water, as well as a first aid kit in case of emergencies.
- Consider using trekking poles for easier navigating through deep snow. Ski poles work great in a pinch!
After a snowshoe adventure, stop by the Bear Trap Lounge to warm up with a drink or a soak in one of our many rooftop hot tubs.
Sources: AllTrails, Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
Hiking can be a leisurely activity spent with friends or it can be a challenging adventure that can take you to the very top of the world. For those in either category, Tahoe provides many trails that travel to hidden waterfalls, crystal clear alpine lakes and the highest peaks in the Basin. Individuals looking for a real test of their endurance and strength need look no further than the following hikes rated hard in the Tahoe Basin.
The summit of Mt. Tallac offers stunning views of Tahoe. Credit: Rachid Dahnoun / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
9.6 miles | 3,323 elevation gain
Mt. Tallac is the towering peak that marks the South Shore of Lake Tahoe. Its iconic cross, which typically bears the final remnants of an epic winter, can be seen throughout the southern community. In addition to its staggering height and beauty, Tallac offers an extremely difficult, but very rewarding hike that takes you through troves of wildflowers to its summit where you can peer into Desolation Wilderness and view the many alpine lakes dotting the region.
Tips: Leave early to beat the heat and the crowds. We recommend leaving by first light.
6.2 miles | 3,228 elevation gain
Freel Peak sits at 10,892 ft. (just over 1,000 feet higher than Mt. Tallac) and claims the title for tallest peak in Tahoe. With this status, it’s easy to imagine that a hike to its summit would be, well, staggering! By many accounts, Freel is much more difficult than Tallac with sand accounting for much of its final ascent. Like Tallac, Freel provides very gratifying views of not only Lake Tahoe and its surroundings, but also of Carson Valley. If you want to claim that you’ve hiked the highest peak in Tahoe, then Freel is for you!
Tips: Take it slow when approaching the summit as it’s mostly sand and your footing may stumble.
6.4 miles | 3,018 elevation gain
For wildflowers and impressive mountain overlooks, hikers will find a stimulating, albeit thigh burning, hike in Ralston Peak. Much of the hike is uphill and steep, so be prepared for a long climb to the top. However, this hike is much less populated than Freel and Tallac, which means you’ll have the gorgeous summit mostly to yourself
Tips: Check the weather before you head out as weather can change quickly towards the top.
Take in multiple lakes and views of Emerald Bay from Maggies Peaks. Credit: Robbie Graves
3.7 miles | 1,774 elevation gain
The more moderate option of the aforementioned hikes, Maggies Peak is a fairly steep, mostly uphill hike that provides generous views of Emerald Bay and Desolation Wilderness. Choose between the north peak to see more of the bay and the south peak for more of Desolation. Butterflies abound at the top, making it the perfect picnic spot.
Tips: If you’re new to more difficult trails, try Maggies before attempting any of the first three hikes.
See you out on the trails!
There is no bad time of year in Tahoe and each season provides a new way to explore the Lake of the Sky. Spring offers flowing waterfalls and abundant wildflowers that are sometimes only accessible by hiking… So pull out your Keens and hit the trails this Spring!
Horsetail Falls is a popular moderate trail that takes you 3.3 miles through Desolation Wilderness and back. Named for the waterfall that spills from the mountains and unsurprisingly resembles a horsetail, this hike offers beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This trail is ideal for beginners and moderate hikers, but it does have some tricky footwork so watch your step. In the summer you can take the dip in the alpine waters at the base of the falls.
Fallen Leaf Lake/Glen Alpine Falls
A hidden gem only a mile south of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake provides a quick and easy hike for individuals of all experience levels. Towering trees and the serene silence of the forest will guide you to the crisp cold waters of Fallen Leaf. Snag a spot of secluded beachfront property for an impromptu picnic or continue on to Upper Glen Alpine Falls, the home of one of Tahoe’s earliest resorts.
Views of Mt. Tallac at Fallen Leaf Lake. Credit: Squatch Photography
If you seek wildflowers, then Big Meadow is your hike. This appropriately named meadow is one of the best places to take in the ephemeral appearance of Tahoe’s beautiful wildflowers. Feast your eyes on flora after a mile and a half hike up steep terrain to the meadow.
Tahoe Rim Trail
The Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) is an iconic trail that extends 165 miles around the entirety of Lake Tahoe. And luckily for Ridge guests, the TRT is accessible from your hotel.
Views from the Tahoe Rim Trail. Photo credit: Travel Heals
Bloggers Bailey and Mark of Travel Heals explored the TRT from Ridge. If you need more convincing beyond the above picture, just read a snapshot of their experience:
“Since the trail elevation ranges from 6,240 to 10,338 feet, we were able to see amazing views whenever the trees would open up. On one side was the mountains and the valley, and on the other was the magnificent view of Lake Tahoe from so high up. All along that part of the trail were pockets of cleared trees just waiting for us to sit and soak up the view. And we obliged each time.”
The Ridge Tahoe provides guided hikes and you can always venture on your own – as long as you are prepared! For hiking tips and guides in Tahoe South, click here.
Whether you prefer to traverse with a walking stick, power hike with ski poles or enjoy the company of your dog on a leash, there are ample hikes around The Ridge Tahoe.
Tahoe South is crossed with an extensive network of backcountry trails that is sure to lead you to a place of discovery when you let your feet do the driving. So lace up your hiking boots and prepare to breathe in that clean mountain air, it’s hiking time at Lake Tahoe. (These are in alphabetical order because we can’t possibly pick a favorite!)
Echo Lakes is a beautiful, mellow hike in South Lake Tahoe.
Photo: Erin Leigh Frederick.
- Angora Lakes: An easy half-mile hike leads to two small lakes. Picturesque Upper Angora Lake is framed by cliffs and due to its shallowness it makes for a great swimming spot. Stop at the Angora Lookout on the drive up for a 360 degree view of the basin. To get there take Highway 89 north approximately three miles from South Lake Tahoe to Fallen Leaf Lake Road (just past Camp Richardson) and turn left. Turn left at the first paved road. Continue half a mile to Forest Service Road 12N14 and turn right.
- Castle Rock Trail: Wonderful views of Lake Tahoe require a short hike through the trees and a little bit of rock climbing. The reward is magnificent if you’re versed in technical climbing skills which are necessary to scale the fourth-class rock and to reach the 7,904 foot summit. For those not so technical, there a lower pinnacle nearby offers similar views with a little scrambling required. To get there, take Highway 207/Kingsbury Grade to North Benjamin Drive and continues into Andria Drive. Follow it until the US Forest Service gate.
- Echo Lakes: Many different hikes can be taken from this trailhead. For a short walk, hike to the far end of Upper Echo Lake. Many longer hike options await you farther down the trail. For a nominal fee, a boat taxi operated in the summer by Echo Lakes Resort cuts three miles off your trip. Day hikers can pick up permits at the self-serve area at the trailhead.
- Fallen Leaf Lake: Hiking to Fallen Leaf Lake is best found just past the Fallen Leaf Campground. There are a number of well-maintained trails which all lead to the lake’s north shore with awesome views of Mt. Tallac. Being almost flat and from 3/4 to 2 miles round trip, it is a perfect hike for small children or older adults. The trail is wide and easily navigated with virtually no chance of getting lost. After reaching Fallen Leaf Lake, it is possible to extend the hike by taking a trail that leads first to the dam and then along a scenic stretch of Taylor Creek.
- Fourth of July Lake: Backpackers who don’t mind regaining lost elevation will appreciate the Fourth of July Lake semi-loop trip through the northeast section of Mokelumne Wilderness, which includes several ponds and lakes, wildflower-covered slopes, sweeping vistas and a deep canyon. There are four bright lakes along the way set into granite bowls, each with fabulous vistas, and nature’s finest flower gardens combine in this not-to-be-missed excursion. Pick up this trail at Carson Pass. Campsite permits must be obtained from the Carson Pass Information Station before starting the hike.
- Grass Lake: With numerous waterfalls and creeks all over the place, the Grass Lake hiking trail is full of liquid scenery that makes for great photos. This trek along this mellow hike is suitable for all ages, as it doesn’t require much energy, only the desire to experience nature at its finest. Grass Lake sits among granite slopes at 7,000 feet in the Desolation Wilderness. The hike to Grass Lake passes Lily Lake, crosses Glen Alpine Creek and includes several waterfalls and a swimming hole. To access the trailhead to Grass Lake, take Highway 89 north from South Lake Tahoe to Fallen Leaf Lake Road. Watch for bicyclists and other cars on this narrow, one-lane road. Continue until you see the Glen Alpine trailhead sign and turn left.
- Mt. Tallac: If you’re ready for a strenuous challenge, there’s Mt. Tallac, which provides a spectacular view of Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Desolation Wilderness. A wilderness permit is required. Weather conditions can change rapidly in the Sierra; bring a jacket, carry lots of water and allow plenty of time for your trip. Day hikers, pick up your permit at the self-serve area at the trail head. Overnight hikers will need an overnight permit for Desolation Wilderness. This permit must be purchased before you get to the Mt. Tallac trail head.
- Round Top Lake Trail: A beautiful hike in subalpine forest with stretches of trail above the tree line. Watch for incredible wildflowers in late spring. Round Top offers views south towards Ebbets and Sonora Pass, east toward Hope Valley and the Carson River, west overlooking Caples Lake and the Kirkwood Ski area and north to Lake Tahoe. From Highway 88, take the Woods Lake Campground road.
- The Tahoe Rim Trail: A 165-miles of hiking trails which form a loop around Lake Tahoe. The trail ranges in elevation from 6,240 feet at the outlet of Lake Tahoe to 10,338 feet at Relay Peak in Nevada. About 50 miles of trail above the lake’s west shore are also part of the much longer Pacific Crest Trail. Bring your camera, download some maps, and prepare to spend the day viewing some of Tahoe’s hidden gems.
- Van Sickle Bi-State Park: Located minutes from The Ridge Tahoe, the park, which straddles the Nevada and California state line, allows for hiking with some great sightseeing views. The lower level is easy as it winds through some boulder outcroppings but then it builds and becomes steeper, ideal for a strenuous leg of your workout. You will see views of Mt. Tallac, the South Lake Tahoe casinos, Edgewood Tahoe golf course on up to the Tahoe’s north shore off in the distance.
Which hike will you take on your next stay at The Ridge Tahoe?
Lace up your hiking boots and prepare to cleanse your lungs with clean mountain air, it’s hiking time at Lake Tahoe.
Heavenly Mountain Resort provides amazing scenic views throughout the year as many of their ski trails serve as hiking trails in the summer.
Make plans this spring and summer to stay The Ridge Tahoe and then spend a few days hiking into the back country along dozens of Lake Tahoe area trail systems. The South Lake Tahoe region is crossed with an extensive network of back country trails that are sure to lead you to your happy place. You can also check with the staff of The Ridge Tahoe to see if there are any organized hikes planned during your stay.
Here are our top three nearby hikes:
- Heavenly Mountain Resort: You can take the Gondola and Tamarack Express chair up 9,800 feet to access some of Tahoe’s most scenic and highest hiking trails. Heavenly offers trail options from beginner to expert, so you can’t go wrong.
- Van Sickle Bi-State Park: Located minutes from The Ridge Tahoe down Kingsbury Grade, the park allows for nearby hiking with some great views. You can take this easy to moderate hike up to a small waterfall in about 20 to 30 minutes at a moderate pace. The lower level of the trail is easy as it winds through some boulder outcroppings. The park is open to hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. There is parking for horse trailers at the day use/parking lot area. This is the only park that crosses into two states, 575 acres of the park is within Nevada and 150 acres in California. The California-side area has accessible wheel chair parking, restrooms, trailhead and picnic tables. The hike gets a steeper and becomes more of a moderate hike about 10 minutes in. You will see views of Mt. Tallac, the South Lake Tahoe casinos, Edgewood Tahoe golf course, to the Tahoe’s north shore off in the distance.
- If you are ready for a longer hike then continue beyond the waterfall from the Van Sickle trail and head up to catch the intersecting The Tahoe Rim Trail. This is an extension of the 165-mile long-distance hiking trail which forms a loop around Lake Tahoe. The trail ranges in elevation from 6,240 feet at the outlet of Lake Tahoe to 10,338 feet at Relay Peak in Nevada. About 50 miles of trail above the lake’s west shore are also part of the much longer Pacific Crest Trail. Bring your camera, download some maps, and prepare to spend the day taking in one of Tahoe’s hidden gems.
Where will you hike during your stay at The Ridge Tahoe?