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Tahoe Day Hikes - South Lake

Whether you are an avid hiking, or just out for a day stroll in the wilderness, Lake Tahoe (California) offers some beautiful areas to enjoy the outdoors.

If you have only one day to hike,  Emerald Bay along the south western edge of the lake offers an array of opportunities.   


VikingsHolm Beach Walk

Difficulty : Relatively Easy (short downhill walk to the site and beach).  

The Vikingsholm walk is a nice, short, sightseeing walk from the parking area down to the Vikingsholm building and beach.  There are bathrooms, some tables, and lots of beach area to sit back and enjoy the site.  Water is available during the summer season, but is shut down prior to winter.  Tours of the Vikingsholm building are offered during the summer seasons.  Here is an additional link for more information on the Vikingsholm site :

Eagle Lake

Difficulty : Moderate but short (~0.8 miles one way, fairly steep).  

Eagle Lake is above Emerald bay leaving from the trail head directly off the tip of the bay.  The trail is fairly steep, in many places having stairs.  It is a fairly heavily traveled trail so it is well maintained and easy to follow.

Eagle Lake is the first of the upper lakes.  If you are on for a shorter hike this makes a nice lunch destination.  Be sure to look back along the trail as there are nice views of Lake Tahoe as you climb into the mountains.





Velma Lakes

Difficulty : Challenging (3.8 miles one way.  steep assent, longer miles, plus altitude).  

The area around Velma lakes is beautiful if you are up for the challenge of getting there.  The trail is steep for the first 2.9 miles and if you are out of shape or not used to the altitude, you will have to work to get there.  Once to the saddle you will reach a trail marker pointing to Velma or Dicks Pass.  From there turn right, and the trail is much more gradual up and down as you hike out to the lakes.

If you are searching for an alternate hike, turning left at the sign leads you back around to highway 89 at the Emerald Bay scenic overlook.  I've hiked this trail a few times in the past and particularly enjoy Maggies Peak where there is a nice overlook to sit for lunch.  Be sure to take a map and plan your hike as there can be areas that are less clear in terms of trail direction.  A word of caution: this is high altitude so the snow can stay on the upper trails into the summer.  While this is not to difficult to hike through, it does make following the trail challenging at times... 

Rubicon Trail

Difficulty : Easy - Moderate (Out and Back up to 10 miles.  generally gradual along the lake).  

There are two main places to join this trail - either from Vikingsholm or at DL Bliss state park farther north along the lake.

This is a beautiful day hike trail that meanders along the lake shore.  There are a few points where it climbs briefly, but you never get more than about 100-200 feet above the lake. The trail is generally hiked as an out and back route.  It is approximately 5 miles one way from Vikingsholm to DL Bliss so hike as much as you are up for.

I was fortunate enough to stumble onto a new trail this last visit.  There is a camp ground approximately two miles south from Emerald Bay along 89.  Although it was closed late in the year, I parked along the road and hiked through the camp area toward Emerald Bay.  Once you get to the lower camp area there is a trail that follows Emerald Bay around to Vikingsholm. From the road to Vikingsholm beach was about 2.5 miles.  This trail offered a few nice overlooks and few other hikers.  From Vikingsholm you can continue your hike around the Rubicon trail to increase the miles if desired.

Tahoe Photos

Here is a link to some additional photos of the Emerald bay area.  

This article provided by  Visit our site for other photos and travel information.   

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Last modified: September 03, 2007