Snowshoeing in Lake Tahoe
By: Jared Manninen
Snowshoeing in South Lake Tahoe. With a quick learning curve (walk a little wider and pick up those knees), snowshoeing is an enjoyable way to experience Tahoe’s backcountry. There are many places to snowshoe in Lake Tahoe, ranging from flat and easy to steep and strenuous.
You’ll find flat areas to snowshoe at Pope, Kiva, and Baldwin Beaches, as well Camp Richardson (no pets, trail pass required), Tallac Historic Site, Fallen Leaf Lake Campground, Taylor Creek Visitor Area, and Taylor Creek Sno-Park (permit required). Park at Mount Tallac Road to access Floating Island and Cathedral Lakes and Mount Tallac. If you plan to conquer Tallac, you’ll have to contend with over 3,000’ of elevation gain and a lot of exposure.
At Emerald Bay, snowshoe down to Vikingsholm and have a look around the bay, or head back into Desolation Wilderness via Eagle Falls Trailhead. For a view that’s second to none, hike up to South Maggie’s Peak via the Bayview Trailhead (at the back of the campground). Maggie’s Peaks are challenging with roughly 2,000’ of elevation gain.
West of the “Y” you’ll find a number of easy to moderate trails along Lake Tahoe Boulevard, Tahoe Mountain Road, and North Upper Truckee Road. Park at the Forest Service gates along those roads and snowshoe around Tahoe Mountain, Washoe Meadows State Park, and Angora Ridge, Lakes, and burn area.
Traveling west of Echo Summit on Highway 50, turn right onto Johnson Pass Road (near Little Norway) and park at the Echo Lakes/Johnson Pass Sno-Park (permit required). Then, snowshoe through Desolation Wilderness to Echo Lakes and Lake Aloha.
Bijou Park is centrally located in South Lake Tahoe and mostly flat. To snowshoe further and higher into the mountains, begin at a Forest Service gate on Pioneer Trail or at the end of Oneidas Street.
This area boasts early and late season snowshoeing due to its higher elevation. Grass Lake and nearby Hope Valley are mostly flat, whereas Big Meadow and Carson Pass Sno-Park (permit required) offer more challenging routes. For even more difficult climbs, head up Waterhouse, Freel, or Red Lake Peaks. These three peaks are extremely strenuous and require backcountry experience and a lot of time to safely navigate out and back.
Kirkwood Ski Resort (no pets, trail pass required) offers easy to advanced routes along their trail system (80km in optimal winter conditions).
Rabe Meadow, on Kahle Drive, is easy to access and mostly flat. The Van Sickle Bi-State Park is behind Heavenly Village and set on the mountain face, so hike as high as your fitness level will accommodate. Use the paid parking garage on Bellamy Court to avoid being ticketed.
Plan Your Trip Today!
Make planning easy with this guide to all the must-see vistas, must-eat dishes and must-experience attractions.Plan Your Trip