(Cover photo courtesy of Total Shape)
Camp Richardson is no more than 10-20 minutes from five of the best hiking trails around South Lake Tahoe. And when we say best, we mean the world-famous kind of best—the types of trails that always seem to make their way to the top of most people’s must-do lists. That said, we thought it was our due diligence to give you the lowdown on these five epic uphills—ranging from beginner to expert.
1. Mount Tallac Trail
Often referred to as “the best hike in Tahoe,” the Mount Tallac Trail winds through some of the most breathtaking alpine scenery on this side of the Pacific. At its summit, hikers are rewarded with spectacular views of Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe, and the expansive Desolation Wilderness. This hike is on the tougher side and can be subject to rapidly changing weather conditions, so head out prepared.
The Mount Tallac Trail is 10.5 miles in length, has an elevation gain of 3,274 feet, and is an out-and-back type of route. Local hikers describe this trail as a pretty rocky trail, so a pair of decent hiking boots are highly recommended. It is also recommended that you begin your hike early to give yourself plenty of time for water and snack breaks!
For more info, check out the Mount Tallac Trail U.S. Forest Service page.
Mount Tallac Trail Tips/Info
- The ideal season to hike Tallac is from June through October. Snow may fall at higher elevations until late July, although this is unlikely to give hikers any issues.
- Mid-afternoon thunderstorms are typical in the summer. We recommend getting up early to prevent being exposed at high elevations during these periods.
- Remember to register at the trailhead for a free Desolation Wilderness permit.
2. Van Sickle Bi-State Park
This fantastic set of hiking trails is just a quick jaunt from Stateline, Nevada, and is within Van Sickle Bi-State Park, one of the Tahoe Basin’s most accessible recreation areas. As the name suggests, this park’s trails take you through both California and Nevada. Trail difficulty ranges from easy to moderate, making it a great option for families. The coolest thing about Van Sickle is that it offers a connector to the Tahoe Rim Trail, named one of the nation’s top ten trails by National Geographic Adventure magazine.
The top trails at Van Sickle Bi-State Park include the Van Sickle Rim Trail Connector, the Barn Trail to Cal Neva Loop, the Cal-Neva Loop via the Van Sickle Trail, and the Saddle to Ski Run Trail. Before you start adventuring, make sure to look at the length of each hike and the estimated time to complete each hike!
For more info, visit the Van Sickle Bi-State Park Nevada State Parks page.
Van Sickle Bi-State Park Trail Tips/Info
- Keep an eye out for the signs, as there are a lot of paths crossing
- The entrance to the park is at Heavenly Village and Lake Park Way
- Trails range from 3 miles to 8 miles
3. Eagle Lake Trail
This hike is, hands-down, the best South Tahoe hiking trail for kiddos. While it is decently steep, the distance is reasonable, at under two miles round trip. The best part of the Eagle Lake Falls hike is the epic reward at the top (the falls and the lake, of course). Ask just about any kid, and they’ll tell you the water’s chilly, but the swimming’s great! Another favorite surprise on this hike is a super cool pathway of stairs that cut right into the granite mountainside. Be sure to arrive at this trail early if you want more of a secluded adventure, as the Eagle Lake Trail is very popular!
Check out this Eagle Lake Trail blog post on TahoeSouth.com for more details.
Eagle Lake Trail Tips/Info
- Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash
- This is a very popular area for hiking, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring
- It takes an average of 1 hour to complete this route
4. Fallen Leaf Lake Trail
Located just off Highway 89 near Camp Richardson, Fallen Leaf Lake is one of our nearest and dearest trails. Depending upon your destination, you’ll enjoy a pleasant walk around Fallen Leaf Lake, to wonderful views of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf, and Angora Lakes, and all the oohs and aahs in between.
Fallen Leaf Lake Trail is 3.6 miles and has an elevation gain of 137 feet. This is a moderately challenging route and takes an average of 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete. Locals say that Fall Leaf Lake Trail is usually not as busy and is mostly flat terrain.
For more info, take a look at this Fallen Leaf Lake post on TahoeSouth.com.
Fallen Leaf Lake Trail Tips/Info
- There is a $10 day use fee for parking
- This trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit any time of the year
- When Fallen Leaf Campground is closed in the winter, you must park off of Fallen Leaf Lake Road and walk to the trailhead
5. Cascade Falls Trail
Last but certainly not least is best-trail number five—Cascade Falls. Offering up awe-inspiring views of Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, this trail is considered one of the most awesome short hikes in Tahoe. At only 1.5 miles round trip, the trail boasts big rewards at the top, with expansive views of Cascade Lake, Lake Tahoe, and, of course, 200 feet of the roaring falls to take away what little breath you have left (trust us: it’s worth it).
This moderately challenging route takes an average of 40 minutes to complete, which is perfect for hikers looking to kill a little time! There is an elevation gain of 255 feet, and it navigates through the forest and over stone steps.
You can get more Cascade Falls Trail info on TahoeSouth.com.
Cascade Falls Trail Tips/Info
- There is a parking area, but it is small and limited
- The parking lot fills up quickly, so be sure to explore early if you want a spot
- This trail is very family-friendly and great for beginners
Book Your Stay Minutes from The Best Hiking Trails Around South Lake Tahoe
Camp Richardson is just minutes away from the best hiking trails in Lake Tahoe! As a bonus, our Mountain Sports Center has maps and guidebooks to help you navigate your next hiking adventure.
Be sure to download this awesome Forest Service trail map PDF, which includes info about all the above trails and more!
Call (530) 542-6570 or Send a Lodging Inquiry to reserve your spot today!
Don’t Forget to Pack the Essentials!
- Hiking backpack
- Plenty of food and water
- Weather-appropriate clothing
- Comfortable hiking boots or shoes
- Navigation tools like a map and compass
- First-aid kit
Forget to pack something? Stop by our General Store and Deli for any basic necessities you need!