lake tahoe with trees surrounding it

best hiking trails with lake tahoe views

By

Ted Schlater

If you’re planning a trip to Lake Tahoe, you’re likely going to spend time on some of the many trailheads in the area. There are many gorgeous Tahoe views for both dedicated hikers and fun seekers looking to spend a couple of free hours connecting with nature.

Choosing the trailheads that offer the best Tahoe views can be a challenge when there are so many good options!

Monkey Rock is well known when it comes to scenic options on the North Shore. Located close to the East Shore Trail, it is accessible for hikers of all experience levels and is the perfect option if you’re looking to have a picnic lunch while taking in the beautiful Tahoe views. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the Monkey Rock Tahoe hike and many more scenic trails in the area, making it easy for you to create an itinerary for your trip.

incline village hiking trails

Incline Village is one of the most popular places in Lake Tahoe for people to stay. It is home to numerous mountain retreats, stunning beaches, and scenic trailheads. The East Shore Trail is easily accessible from Incline Village – you can rent a bike from Vista Trail Bikes, exit from the Starbucks parking lot, and get to the trailhead (located about 2 miles away) by way of a quick scenic ride!

Monkey Rock

As mentioned above, Monkey Rock is one of the most popular trails on the North Shore and, in fact, all of Lake Tahoe. Monkey Rock Tahoe is named after the iconic rock at the top of the trailhead, which hikers say resembles a monkey. The Monkey Rock hike is an easy one  the elevation is moderate, and the trail isn’t too long. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie looking to start off easy or an experienced hiker hoping to take in the stunning Monkey Rock view  this trail has something for everyone.

Directions to Trailhead: If you’re staying in Incline Village, you can drive to the Starbucks lot and park in the area. If you’re renting from Vista Trail Bikes, you can also park in our parking lot. After parking, you can ride your bike to the trailhead which is located at the Tunnel Creek Cafe. Bikes are not allowed on the hiking trail but you can lock the bikes up with the free bike locks we provide and enjoy the North Shore’s most popular hike from there.

 

Length: 2.6 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation Gain: 152 m

Estimated Time: About 1 hour 15 minutes round trip, without stopping.

Is Monkey Rock dog friendly? Yes, as long as your dog is on a leash.

Why is it called Monkey Rock? The trail is named after the rock at the top of the trailhead. It’s a common pastime of hikers to try and see if they can catch the resemblance between the rock and a monkey. Local legend holds that the rock’s features aren’t naturally as monkey-shaped as you can see today – but that a local hiked to the top of the trail and carved out the features to make them more prominently monkey-like. If you’re hiking with kids, you can play a guessing game when you reach the top of the trail and ask them if they can spot the monkey!

 

Other tips: Once you get to the top of the monkey rock hike, you can climb the large stack of rocks if you want. It offers a great view of the area and is also a nice place to snack. Additionally, there’s a rock shaped like a sitting chair you can recline on, but that tends to be busy, and there’s often a line to sit on and pose in it. That said, you should always be careful when climbing or sitting on the rocks.

monkey rock overlooking lake tahoe

Incline Flume Trail Head

The Incline Flume Trail is not just a hiking trail, it’s also a biking trail. It was only recognized by the Forest Service as an “official” trail in 2017 but has been well-used and loved for years before the recognition. The trail offers stunning views of Lake Tahoe, and it’s also a gorgeous trail to hike up, thanks to the numerous wildflower patches in the spring.

red and blue poppy flowers along incline flume trail

Directions to Trailhead: Incline Flume Trail can be accessed from Mt. Rose Highway, and is about 2 miles outside Incline Village. Ideally, you should drive there, and you can park opposite the trailhead. You can also bike this trail, so bring your bike along if you want!

Length: 4.3 miles round trip

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: 63 m

Estimated Time: About 1.5 hours, without stopping

Is Incline Flume dog friendly? Yes, as long as your dog is on a leash.

Other tips: While walking this trail, you can still see remnants from the old wooden flume used by The Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company to transport timber during the mining boom of the late 1800s. These remains generally look like formed wood and rusty nails.

other north lake tahoe hiking trails

Lake Tahoe is generally divided into North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe. North Lake Tahoe is the quieter section of Lake Tahoe, and it’s the option of choice for people looking for a tranquil getaway from the city. Both sides of Lake Tahoe offer stunning views – although, when it comes to hiking, North Lake Tahoe generally has the easier, shorter trails, while some of the longest trails in the area are on the south side.

Glenshire Lake Trail

If you’re looking for a beginner trail to introduce your kids to hiking, the Glenshire Lake Trail is the perfect option. It’s a relatively flat trail but offers gorgeous views of a meadow with wildflowers and the lake itself. This is the ideal place to catch a stunning sunset.

sunset over lake shore glenshire lake trail

Directions to Trailhead: This trail is in the town of Truckee. To get there, turn right on Glenshire Drive and drive until you get to the Glenshire Clubhouse. The trailhead is right behind the clubhouse. You can bike this trail as well.

Length: 1-mile round trip

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: 13 m

Estimated Time: Approximately 30 minutes, without stopping

Is Glenshire Lake dog friendly? Yes, as long as your dog is on a leash.

Other tips: You can’t bike to the trailhead because Glenshire Drive is not bike-friendly. However, you can use your bike once you’re on the trail.

Loch Leven Lakes Trail

Located on the California side of Lake Tahoe, Loch Leven Lakes Trail is the perfect option if you’re looking for a day of adventure. It offers gorgeous views of the mountains in every direction! You can go cliff jumping at the upper lake or go fishing in the area (catch and release only).

Mountain Lake with Surrounding Forest

Directions to Trailhead: Drive west on the I-80 from Truckee and take the Big Bend exit. Turn left at the bottom of the exit ramp and follow the road until you reach the parking lot. The trailhead is directly across the parking lot. You can also bike this trail if you prefer biking to hiking.

Length: 7.7 miles round trip

Difficulty: Hard

Elevation Gain: 475 m

Estimated Time: Approximately 4 hours without stopping

Is Loch Leven Lakes dog friendly? Yes, as long as your dog is on a leash.

Other tips: Although this trail is a difficult hike, it’s considered an easy backpacking trail. There are camping sites you can spend the night at, giving you more time to enjoy the area and its many offerings. You will need a permit if you plan on having a campfire while camping.

South Lake Tahoe Hiking Trails

South Lake Tahoe is the more traditionally “touristy” side of Lake Tahoe and offers tons of water sports, nightlife options, and restaurants. However, it also offers some gorgeous trails for hikers. While some of the longer trails in Lake Tahoe are in South Lake Tahoe, not all the trails here are challenging or lengthy.

Rubicon Trail

The Rubicon Trail is a hiking trail in South Lake Tahoe that offers beautiful Tahoe views of waterfalls, sand beaches, and even a Scandinavian mansion. There are several diversions you can take, including smaller trails that lead directly to the water, an offshoot that takes you to Lower Eagle Falls, and more.

Directions to Trailhead: There are three different access points you can access the trail from. The most common is at the Vikingsholm parking lot, located in Emerald State Park. From the parking lot, you’ll need to hike about 1 mile down to reach the trailhead. You can also access the trail from Eagle Point Campground and DL Bliss State Park. The paved portion is bike-friendly.

Length: 16 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation Gain: 703 m

Estimated Time: Approximately 7 hours

Is Rubicon Trail dog friendly? Dogs are not allowed on this trail.

Other tips: If you make it to the Vikingsholm Mansion, you can take a tour of the property. It will cost about $15, but it’s a lovely pit stop during your hike. The Mansion also has a vistor center where you can rest or use the bathrooms, and a water refill area you can take advantage of before continuing your hike. Despite the length, the trail is incredibly popular, and the parking lot tends to fill up quickly, so make sure to get there early.

rubicon trail in the forest

Fallen Leaf Lake Trail

Fallen Leaf Trail offers beautiful views of both Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe. You’ll be treated to views of waterfalls, wildflowers, and more. The trail is accessible year-round and hikers can go swimming, kayaking, and fishing here.

lake with mountains surrounding it fallen leaf lake trail

Directions to Trailhead: From Camp Richardson Resort (located near Highway 89), drive onto Fallen Leaf Road. Keep driving past the campground and you’ll soon see the trailhead with a parking lot close by. You can also bike this trail.

Length: 3.6 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation Gain: 42 m

Estimated Time: Approximately 1 hour 10 minutes without stopping

Is Fallen Leaf Lake dog friendly? Yes. Generally, dogs should be on a leash, but they are allowed to be off-leash in some areas.

Other tips: Fallen Leaf Campground closes seasonally, so you’ll have to park off Fallen Leaf Lake Road instead and walk to the trailhead.

These are some of the most stunning trails in Lake Tahoe. There are very few trails that offer anything less than spectacular views of the lake, the mountains, and the rest of the gorgeous natural scenery. While these are 6 of the most scenic, they’re definitely not the only ones in the area.