Spring around Lake Tahoe offers beautiful scenery wherever you go. The melting snow bursts into waterfalls and quenches the forest thirst. This allows for waterfalls and wildflowers to peak with beauty and stir the high sierra awake. There is no better time for a quick trail run, river hike, or waterfall viewing mission. Afterward, take in a local happy hour at one of North Lake Tahoe’s relaxing and unique eateries or pubs.
This trail starts at the top of Mountain Rose highway (431) at 8700 feet. The trail is in the heart of Mt. Rose Wilderness area. The Mt. Rose waterfall is located approx. 2.5 miles from the summit parking area on the Mt. Rose summit trail. The waterfall treats visitors to pristine clear water roaring down a granite rock face. There are manzanita bushes and other high alpine shrubs scattered throughout the fall area. From the top of the waterfall, one can enjoy a window seat view of Reno and the Washoe valley below.
After enjoying the waterfall, hikers can go back to parking via backtracking on the summit trail, or continue from the falls on the Mt. Rose summit trail and summit Mt. Rose. This is only advisable if the snow is clear. From the falls, the summit is an additional 2.5 miles further with at least 2,000 elevation gain. Besides the beauty of the falls themselves, the valley in which they preside is abundant with wildflowers and striking wilderness.
Cascade Falls is located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, by Emerald Bay. 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 trailhead is located in the Bayview Campground parking and offers a large map, and Desolation Wilderness permits. You don’t have to fill out a permit if you’re only going to the falls. The trail starts winding along a forest-clad ridgeline overlooking Cascade Lake. The ridge provides amazing views of the lake and wilderness below. As you near the end of the trail you will be able to see the waterfall. From the fall, the views are breathtaking as one can look back and see Cascade Lake, Emerald Bay, and Lake Tahoe at the same time. Cascade Falls is also the perfect start to a day hike into Desolation Wilderness because it starts alongside the Bayview Trail. Granite Lake is only 1.5 miles up on the Bayview trail. Maggie’s Peak is 2.5 miles up Bayview and serves as the gateway to many other alpine lakes, like Fontanilla’s (which offers another waterfall), Dick’s Lake, Velma Lakes, and others.
Eagle Falls is also located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, by Emerald Bay— and is a great representation of the regions superior beauty, as it roars out of Desolation Wilderness down a steep granite face, clad with the area’s colorful shrubs and greenery.
Eagle Falls Trail takes one into Desolation Wilderness via a massive canyon created by the monstrous peaks overhead. Hikers enjoy a well-maintained trail all the way to the falls. There is a bridge that goes over the waterfall, making it really easy to view and to take pictures. Eagle Falls, like the other falls in the area, are massive in the spring. Be aware of the slippery granite if you bring children or your dog. Keep children close and your dog on a leash. Eagle Falls Trail like Cascade Falls, is also a perfect starting point for a day hike into Desolation Wilderness and access to Eagle Lake or Maggie’s Peak. You can fill in a wilderness permit at the trailhead. Dogs are allowed.
John Muir described this area in the following quote, “From no other valley, as far as I know, may excursions be made in a single day to so many peaks, wild gardens, glacier lakes, glacier meadows and alpine groves, cascades, etc.” Glen Alpine Falls is the gateway to the famous Glen Alpine hiking trail, which connects to the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail can be used to access Mt. Tallac. Desolation Wilderness is a protected wilderness area made up of towering granite peaks connected by impressive canyons. The various lakes, valleys, and mountain passes in the area are affixed to the formidable summits of above, thus creating this unparalleled canyon country. The famous Lake Aloha is also accessible from the Glen Alpine Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail link and would make for a 12-mile day hike. This hike is voted one of the best hikes in the Tahoe area. The snow does need to be clear to do this. The waterfall is located off of Fallen Leaf Road, and is right along the roadside. There is no hiking necessary to reach this waterfall, and you can hear it roaring as you drive close. After you park, you can walk right up to the falls and feel the mist on your face. From the waterfall, hikers can easily access the Glen Alpine Trail trailhead and head into Desolation Wilderness.