Searching for easy hikes in Lake Tahoe? Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular destinations in the Sierra Nevada, welcoming around 15 million visitors each year.
You’ll find colossal granite peaks, secluded beaches, and tons of outdoor sports and activities to get your heart racing in this untouched paradise.
PSSST. Your travel medical insurance can now cover COVID-19!
If you grab SafetyWing Nomad Insurance, it’ll be covered just like other illnesses. I’ve been using it since 2019 and I can assure you it’s the perfect solution for nomads like you and me.
Aside from boating, hiking is the best way to explore the area as you’ll get to access hidden spots only accessible on foot. In addition, there are many short and easy hikes in Lake Tahoe, so you don’t need to be an experienced trekker to enjoy the blissful scenery.
To help you with your trip planning, we’ve compiled a list of the best beginner-friendly hiking trails in the area. The following hikes take between 45 minutes and 2 hours to complete, so you’ll still have plenty of time to enjoy the other sights and activities.
Eagle Falls & Eagle Lake Trail
- Distance: 2.5 miles (4 kilometers)
- Duration: 1 hour
The Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake trail in South Lake Tahoe is a popular short 2.5-mile (4 kilometers) route that takes you from the refreshing falls to the serene lake. There is a steady incline for most of the trail, with a total elevation of 400 feet (122 meters).
Eagle Lake is extremely picturesque as it has a mirror-like effect reflecting the surrounding mountains in the crystal clear water. Some parts of the lake are shallow enough for swimming, making it one of the best summer hikes in Lake Tahoe.
The Eagle Falls trailhead is located close to Emerald Bay State Park Lookout.
Cascade Falls Trail
- Distance: 1.4 miles (2.3 kilometers)
- Duration: 45 minutes
As Echo Falls is one of the most popular parts of Lake Tahoe, you may want to take the quieter hike to Cascade Falls to avoid the crowds. The Cascade Falls hike is shorter and more manageable than Eagle Falls too.
The 1.4-mile (2.3 kilometers) has minimal elevation, and the track is hugely scenic in a remote and untouched spot.
Along this hike, you’ll also enjoy magnificent perspectives of Cascade Lake with Lake Tahoe in the background. You’ll find the Cascade Falls trailhead at Bayview Campground opposite the Inspiration Point parking lot in Emerald Bay.
- Distance: 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers)
- Duration: 45 – 60 minutes
A castle is probably not something you would expect to find in Lake Tahoe, yet if you follow the short and easy Vikingsholm Trail, this is what you’ll find.
Vikingsholm Castle is an abandoned but enchanting 38-room mansion in a hidden spot by Emerald Bay. You might see it from your boat when sailing around the lake, but you can get up close to it via the hiking trail.
You can reach the photogenic fortress on a downhill trail. The Vikingsholm trailhead is located at the observation area above Emerald Bay.
Once you arrive there, you’ll witness incredible views of Emerald Bay. Coming back up is a little steep, but at a 1.7-mile (2.7 kilometers) round trip, it is accessible for most people.
Vikingsholm castle looks magical in the winter when the building and the surrounding trees are covered by snow. So if you’re looking for the best winter hikes in Lake Tahoe, this is undoubtedly one.
- Distance: 2 miles (3.2 kilometers)
- Duration: 1 hour
The skyline trail is another of the best easy hikes in Lake Tahoe, giving panoramic views without any strenuous climbing. This is because the accessible hiking route has a lift that goes up to the trailhead.
Therefore, you start the walk high up in the mountains and don’t have to tackle any significant elevation. Because the entire route is high above sea level, you’ll enjoy incredible views of the untouched nature from beginning to end.
You’ll get stunning vistas of Big Bear, Carson Valley, Lake Tahoe, and more. The lift to the Skyline trailhead is located at the shopping village of Heavenly Ski Resort.
Spooner Lake Loop
- Distance: 2.1 miles (3.4 kilometers)
- Duration: 45 – 60 minutes
The Spooner Lake trail is another of the best easy walking trails in Lake Tahoe, as the looped route is just 2.1 miles (3.4 kilometers) and is flat the entire way.
What’s more, like Skyline Trail, the course starts high up, 7,100 feet (2,164 kilometers) above sea level. As a result, walking the Spooner Lake Loop feels like a mountain hike without a steep climb.
Aside from being gentle and flat, the Spooner Lake Loop is a peaceful and scenic walk that you’ll likely want to complete at a leisurely pace.
There are wildflowers and aspens along the way and benches at all the best lake viewpoints. Therefore, stop off once or twice to soak up the serene ambiance and maybe even spot some wildlife.
You’ll find the Spooner Lake trailhead on the eastern Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. You can start the hike from the dedicated Spooner Lake Parking Lot.
Incline Flume Trail
- Distance: 4.3 miles (6.9 kilometers)
- Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours
The Incline Flume Trail is slightly longer than most of the other short hikes in Lake Tahoe, but it is still relatively gentle and worth the 1.5 to 2 hours it takes. The trail runs alongside the “original” Flume trail, a famous mountain biking route near Crystal Bay.
We particularly like this trail as it is one of the newest hiking routes in Lake Tahoe. As a result, it is still largely unknown to many visitors and has a more secretive, local feel.
The Incline Flume trailhead is located on Hwy. 431 above Incline Village, which means there is no challenging incline yet plenty of splendid views from the beginning.
It runs from Mt. Rose Highway to the Tunnel Creek Trail, with the starting point around 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from Incline Village Mountain Golf Course.
Skunk Harbor Trail
- Distance: 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers)
- Duration: 90 minutes
The 2.8-mile (4.5 kilometers) Skunk Harbor Trail is one of the most secluded hikes in Lake Tahoe, situated on the eastern side of the lake. The Skunk Harbor trailhead is at an unsigned parking lot close to Sand Harbor and takes you to a gorgeous hidden beach far from the crowds of Lake Tahoe.
It is best to hike the Skunk Harbor Trail when the water levels are low, as you’ll find lots of sand. However, the trail is also incredibly scenic, with fantastic sights like an old railroad and an abandoned stone house.
The trail is marked as moderate as there is a total elevation gain of 173 meters (568 feet). However, most people complete it within 90 minutes, so it’s still a short and sweet walk.
Fallen Leaf Lake Trail
- Distance: 3.6 miles (5.8 kilometers)
- Duration: 1 hour
Fallen Leaf Lake is a picturesque body of water to the south of Lake Tahoe, stretching for 3 miles (4.8 kilometers).
You can walk a section on the eastern side of this glacier lake via the 3.6-mile (5.8 kilometers) trail. The Fallen Leaf Lake trailhead begins at the campground just north of the lake.
After a very short distance, you’ll arrive at the shoreline, where you can enjoy the tranquil lake ambiance and breathtaking mountain backdrop for most of the walk. If you want to extend your hike, simply walk for longer around the shoreline before turning back.
Fallen Leaf makes for one of the best summer hikes in Lake Tahoe, as you can refresh in the cool water and enjoy a picnic with a view.
It’s also one of the best trails for hikers with dogs as the route is pet-friendly, and certain parts allow dogs to be off-leash. Therefore, your pup can enjoy a dip in the water too.
Final Thoughts On Hikes in Lake Tahoe
This list of easy hikes in Lake Tahoe will give you plenty of inspiration for your upcoming trip. Lake Tahoe is an all-year-round destination, and hiking is an activity you can do every season.
If you’re traveling here in the summer, combine some hikes with paddle boarding or canoeing. Or, if you’re visiting during the snow season, be sure to book a day of skiing in the renowned ski resorts.
Love hiking in the United States? Read one of the following blog posts: