Shirley Canyon is a lovely trail that includes a wonderful variety of environments. The canyon hosts numerous wildflowers, plants, immense granite slabs, waterfalls, and forest as it is a part of the Granite Chief Wilderness area. The hike begins easy with some interesting wet seeps on the forest floor, then you follow a creek that is cascading down the canyon, eventually moving back into the deep woods, and finally emerging onto some extensive granite rock scrambling – welcome to Shirley Lake. There are some steep pitches to negotiate. Hiking boots and a few liters of water are strongly recommended.
Five Lakes is an area between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows offering 5 miniature alpine lakes and unlimited exploration around them. The lakes are surrounded by impressive canyons and cliffs cascading from the high alpine overhead, and laden with the magnificent vegetation of the Granite Chief Wilderness. Some of the trees seen in the area are over 100 old and are more than 6 feet in circumference. For one looking for an easy day hike or swim, Five Lakes is the place for you. Although the trail has a moderately steep grade, it’s mercifully short making it incredibly popular with hikers during the high season. This is a perfect off-season hike. The first 1/2 mile is the steepest grade, and the next 3/4 mile continues uphill more gradually to the top of a ridge. Switchbacks make this climb easier, but there is almost no shade along the route as you climb 1000 feet.
At 1.8 miles, you reach the Granite Chief Wilderness boundary and enter a land of red and white fir trees, aging pines, and massive rocks. A signed junction 1/4 of a mile further points you left towards the lakes. This trail leads directly downhill to the largest lake. From there you can follow numerous side trails to the other four lakes, all east of the largest one. Most adventurers don’t go any farther than the first lake where the swimming is excellent. The five lakes are set at 7400 feet; remember to bring sunscreen! The sun is strong at high elevations. If you are seeking a challenge and want to hike all day, Five Lakes also gives one the option of continuing to the Pacific Crest Trail towards Squaw Valley.
Donner Peak is a 7988 ft peak in the heart of the sierra crest. The summit enjoys views of Donner Lake, the impressive Donner Pass, the sister peaks to Donner—Mt. Lincoln, Anderson Peak, Castle Peak, and Truckee. The summit of Donner Peak is very unique as it is clad with ancient Juniper (Bonsai) trees and other unique forestation. At the summit is a majestic cathedral like granite tower providing miniature canyons and stone structures perfect for exploring and scrambling. All while hosting a towering view over Donner Lake and Truckee below. This hike is a must do if you do not have a lot of time.
This trail starts on the south side of Emerald Bay; parking is available at the Bayview campground. The trail is primarily uphill and accesses various alpine lakes, Maggie’s Peak, and the wild wonderland known as Desolation Wilderness. The landscape is home to extraordinary rock and cliff structures, deep canyons, lush forest, and lake views. The trailhead offers a large map and desolation wilderness permits. You must fill out a wilderness permit. The trail immediately starts climbing from the parking lot, taking one towards Desolation Wilderness. Granite Lake is only 1.5 miles up the hill. This first section is very steep but offers amazing views of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. Granite Lake is a great lunch spot and perfect for a cool off after the climb. Maggie’s Peak is 2.5 miles further up and a gateway to many other alpine lakes in Desolation Wilderness—Dicks Lake, Velma Lakes, etc. If you are looking for a 14 plus mile day hike into Desolation, this is it. Maggie’s Peak provides an angelic view of Lake Tahoe and hosts visitors with phenomenal castle-like granite structures at the summit.
Castle Peak is a prominent 9,109 ft peak which sits at the top of Donner summit in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. The name of the peak describes exactly what the summit is like, 3 splendid granite towers which are guarded by encircling cliff faces. To access the castles at the summit, hikers are guided over a ridge which passes safely over and on top of various cliff faces—the views are breathtaking. Once at the summit, climbing said castles is a free climb and there are no trails or ropes. The views from the summit area are that of Truckee, Donner Lake, the northern high sierra, and the Mt. Rose Wilderness. Hikers who summit Castle Peak enjoy travels through the Tahoe National Forest, which invades various granite strewn canyons and valleys.
D.L BLISS TO VIKINGSHOLM APPROX. 6.5 MILES OUT AND BACK
D.L BLISS TO EMERALD BAY APPROX. 4.5 MILES OUT AND BACK
The Rubicon Trail is an 8.2 mile hiking trail that runs right alongside Lake Tahoe from the southern end of Emerald Bay to the entry of D.L Bliss state park. Though the trail in its entirety is long, one can access various sections during a day. This trail is not to be confused with the nearby 4×4 Rubicon trail.
Because the Rubicon Trail runs directly along Lake Tahoe, the views are spectacular over its entirety. There are various shoreline access points from the trail if you wish for a quick swim or a place to put down a towel and catch some sun. The main trailheads are located in D.L Bliss state park from the end of Lester Beach Road at Calawee Cove—on the lake, or at the Pines campground in D.L Bliss state park—closer to highway 89. Hikers can easily access Rubicon Point Light from the trailhead at Calawee Cove as well. Some other trailhead locations are in Emerald Bay—at Vikingsholm, and at the furthest southern point in Emerald Bay at —Eagle Point campground.
D.L Bliss state park is one of the many areas along the west shore of Lake Tahoe that provides hiking, water sports, and beaching. What makes D.L Bliss unique is the geography which surrounds and protects it. The beaches in the park lie between massive cliffs cascading down from peaks above. They continue into the depths of the lake, creating a true “deep lagoon” feel. The hiking trails wind through thick high alpine forest laden with old-growth trees and vegetation, impressive cliff walls and rock sculptures, and various vista overlooking Lake Tahoe.
Along the D.L Bliss section of the Rubicon Trail, hikers are atop the massive Rubicon cliff wall that makes D.L Bliss so unique. The lake views in this area are paramount and display pristine blue waters going to depths of over 1500 feet. Once hikers finish the Rubicon cliff traverse, they will arrive in Emerald Bay….Show more details
Mt Tallac is a 9,700 foot peak that dominates the west Tahoe shoreline. Hikers enjoy an approx. 4.5 mile hike to the summit from the parking area through Desolation Wilderness. The trail hosts views of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake almost the entire time while passing over technical yet stunning ridgelines, through dense forest filled with ancient trees and manzanita fields, and by 2 pristine alpine lakes. At the summit, mountaineers enjoy a paramount 360 view of Lake Tahoe, magnificent Desolation Wilderness, famed Emerald Bay, and the formidable line of peaks creating the sierra crest. This hike is well worth the difficulty as the trail guides one on a journey through truly monumental terrain and views. Even if you don’t want to make the summit, simply going the first mile will treat one to amazing views of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. If you have a full day, this hike is unbeatable. Bring plenty of water and be prepared for a tough hike.
Emerald bay is the “National Geographic” shot of Lake Tahoe. The area hosts massive peaks looming over the bay, establishing their presence by providing visitors with views of building size couloirs, lush manzanita forest, and access to Desolation Wilderness. The wilderness protrudes into the Emerald Bay via Eagle Falls canyon and Maggie’s Peak, making travelers feel it’s ancient yet beautiful grip through a landscape of angelic rock structures and colossal cliffs. Emerald bay is also home to the castle “Vikingsholm”, which is considered one of the finest interpretations of Scandinavian architecture in the U.S. The castle sits in a lightly forested beach area with emerald blue waters as the floor while providing commanding views of the mountains and cliffs dominating overhead. The hike down to Vikingsholm from the main Emerald Bay parking is 1 mile.
Mt. Rose is one of the tallest peaks in the Lake Tahoe area towering at 10,785 ft. It overlooks Mt. Rose Wilderness, Reno, and Lake Tahoe. Mt. Rose Wilderness is one of the first-ever established wilderness areas in the U.S. Hikers who summit Mt. Rose cannot help but feel its sheer size. The base of the mountain goes all the way to the Reno foothills; thus, the vertical rise is quite formidable. The summit trail is 5 miles from the parking area taking hikers through wilderness clad valleys, ridgelines, and drainages to the summit. Travelers enjoy amazing views of canyons, couloirs, and cliff faces affixing the lowlands to the high peaks above. Halfway up the trail hikers will pass the Mt. Rose falls. There is a smaller, separate trail that breaks off the summit trail if you wish to explore the falls. The falls are in a large valley surrounded by dense forest. The valley hosts unique snowmelt creeks winding through thick manzanita bushes. This is a great place to rest before the final summit.
The Tahoe Rim trail circles Lake Tahoe entirely. It runs 165 miles treating hikers to unprecedented views of Lake Tahoe while traveling through various unique topographic locations. From thick forest, massive canyons, monstrous summits, pristine lakes, and epic ridgeline traverses, hikers will see things a camera could never do justice.
Because of the TRT’s size, there are various trailheads and water sources to utilize. Due to trip restrictions, we recommend exploring the stretch of trail between Spur View trail off of 267, and Mt. Rose Meadows above Incline Village. Please inquire with the front desk for more information on a good place to start based on the amount of time you have.
From the hotel get on Highway 80 West and continue until the Exit 176-Castle Peak/Boreal Ridge Rd. Once you exit, turn right. Continue on this road and follow the signs for the “PCT” or Pacific Crest Trail. There are a couple of signs on this trail at various road splits so that one does not get lost. This road is only paved for about ½ mile, then it turns into a technical 4x4 road. Travelers can drive this road for as long as their vehicle can make it. Then hike the rest. The road’s condition is based on time of year and snowmelt from the winter before. A lot of snowmelt creates ruts and puddles that are hard to pass without a lot of vehicle clearance. Consult with the front desk if you have questions on the road conditions.
The most popular hiked portion of the Rubicon Trail is a 6 1/2 mile roundtrip section from D.L Bliss to Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay. It is 4/12 miles roundtrip from D.L. Bliss State Park to the start of Emerald Bay. Because of its location, the trail is probably the most popular hiking trail around Tahoe. Therefore, avoid it on weekends if you can. Due to its elevation (near lake level), it is one of the area’s first hikes to melt out from the winter snow. D.L. Bliss State Park offers a beautiful beach in Calawee Cove after hiking for relaxation. Unfortunately, the Rubicon Trail does not allow dogs.
From the hotel, turn left onto Old Brockway RD. Continue on Old Brockway and turn left on West River Street. Travel on West River Street until it dead ends on highway 89. Turn left (you will be traveling south). Stay on 89 south and when you reach the first roundabout, turn right (the 1st exit), then continue until the next traffic circle. Also take a right here—the 1st exit. Then continue on 89 for 16 miles and the state park entry will be on the left. Once inside the park, stay on Lester Beach RD until you get to the Calawee Cove parking. The trailhead starts from this parking lot. You can also park at the Upper or Lower Pines campsites and use the Pines trailhead; Or start the trail in Emerald Bay at either the Vikingsholm parking—the hike down from the parking lot to the trail is approx. 1 mile; Or Eagle Point Campground, which is on the left-hand side of the road after you pass through the majority of the bay.
From the hotel, take highway 267 into Kings Beach, followed by a left turn on highway 28. Continue on highway 28 until you reach Incline Village, NV. Here you will take a left on highway 431 (AKA Mt. Rose highway). On 431, travel approx. 9 miles until you see the Mt. Rose summit parking on the left. Mt. Rose will be very visible to your north from the parking area as it looms over and across the valley where the parking lot sits. The trailhead starts on the other side of the restroom structure in the parking lot and is heavily signed.
From the hotel, drive to highway 89 south and continue on 89 south through Tahoe City, past Emerald Bay, then look for Mt Tallac Road on the right, turn right onto Mt. Tallac Road, and continue until it ends at the parking area. There are permits at the trailhead which you must fill out. A large map of the trail is also displayed at the trailhead. Dogs are allowed.
From the hotel get on Highway 80 west and continue until exit 176-Castle Peak/Boreal Ridge RD. Once you exit, turn right. Continue on this road and follow the signs for the “PCT” or Pacific Crest Trail. There are a couple of signs on this trail at various road splits so you don’t get lost. This road is only paved for a half mile, then it turns into a technical 4x4 road. Travelers drive this road for as long as their vehicle can make it, then hike the rest. The road’s condition is based on time of year and snowmelt from the winter before. A lot of snowmelt creates ruts and puddles that are hard to pass without a lot of vehicle clearance. Consult with the front desk if you have questions on the road conditions.
The Donner Peak Trail is accessed off the Pacific Crest Trail south of old Hwy. 40. From the hotel, take Interstate 80 to Donner Pass Road. Continue on Donner Pass Rd all the way to Donner Lake. Donner Pass RD will go to the end of the lake before turning into Hwy. 40 traveling uphill. At the top of the summit, you will pass Sugar Bowl Academy; turn left after Sugar Bowl Academy into a gravel parking lot. From here a paved road goes downhill—follow this road to the parking lot for the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT starts by climbing steeply up a granite headwall then flattens and follows the contours of the mountain, climbing moderately. Approximately one mile from Donner Pass, there is a junction for Judah Loop Trail and another unmarked trail. Turn left onto the unmarked trail. This trail gently climbs to an existing jeep road near Coldstream Pass (between Mt. Judah and Donner Peak). Turn left onto this scenic jeep road and follow the trail until you reach a junction where the PCT goes right and another trail continues straight up to Donner Peak—you will be able to see the summit. From here, scramble up the rocks to the summit.
Travel to Emerald Bay via 89 south, then once you go through Emerald Bay, look for Bayview campground on the right. There is parking at the campground and across the street at Inspiration Point. The drive is approx. 45 minutes and is about 35 miles.
From the hotel, travel to highway 89 south and continue past Squaw Valley. Turn right onto Alpine Meadows Road and continue for 2 miles until you see the trailhead on the right. The trailhead is directly across the street from Deer Park Drive.
This trail starts in Squaw Valley at the end of Squaw Peak Rd. The entrance to Squaw Valley is 8 mi. south of Truckee on Hwy 89. The trail can be a bit confusing, but you can't go too wrong. Keep the large creek on your right on the way up the canyon. Look for blue paint marks on rocks to help you stay on the trail. Keep heading up and up and up, until you get to Shirley Lake, which is at the bottom of a ski lift. This portion of the trail is about 2.5 miles in length. If you choose to continue up to High Camp from Shirley Lake, it will add approximately 1.5 miles to your journey.