Time to dust off the favorite hiking boots, bundle up, and embrace the solitude and beauty of Lake Tahoe in the fall. Locals know autumn is one of the best seasons to hit the trails because an array of colorful foliage, cooler days, and fewer crowds are all the motivation we need. From Mount Tallac to Five Lakes, here are some top picks for Tahoe’s best fall hikes.
Mount Tallac, one of Tahoe’s highest peaks is a favored destination for hikers and has been called the jewel in the crown of the Sierra Nevada Mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe. From the Mount Tallac Trail Head there are three options. The first two options provide easy to moderate hikes, Floating Island Lake is just over one and a half miles one-way and Cathedral Lake is two and half miles one-way. The spectacular climb to the top is classified as difficult, but well worth the ten mile round trip. The summit delivers unparalleled vistas from 9,735 feet above sea level. The picturesque route takes you along scenic ridge lines, through lush forest and meadows, and skirts high alpine lakes.
Marlette Lake, an intermediate uphill hike, boasts one of Tahoe’s most dramatic displays of fall colors.The trail winds through the aspen lined North Canyon to Marlette Lake. Striking color defines this five-mile round-trip hike provides the biggest bang for the boot.
Mt. Rose offers spectacular views of the Lake, Reno, and the Tahoe basin. The hike is strenuous with the last two miles following switchbacks to the soaring ridge line. Listen to the rustle of the breeze through the mule ears the first few miles as the trail meanders up to a meadow that signals the half way point. Don’t forget to sign the log book when you make it to the top.
Eagle Falls Trail Head is accessed from Highway 89 at Emerald Bay and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in California. The short moderate two mile round trip hike provides spectacular views as you follow a creek bed up through a ravine toward the desolation wilderness trail. This popular hike offers breathtaking views of some of California’s most gorgeous landscapes.
Five Lakes, one of California’s best day hikes can be crowded with hikers and dogs on busy summer weekends making this hike an ideal choice for fall. Five miles round trip, the trail climbs aggressively the first quarter mile with switchbacks becoming more gradual as you climb through a magnificent granite canyon. At the top, five pristine alpine lakes are scattered, flanked by granite boulders, towering red fir trees, and large rock outcroppings. Pack a lunch and spend the day exploring, can you find all five lakes? Know before you go as this hike has been temporarily closed durning construction of the new gondola connecting Palisades Tahoe.
Contact the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit at 530.543.2600 for more information.