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.

Here’s where to snowshoe on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore:

snowshoeing south lake tahoe
Snowshoeing near Washoe Meadow in South Lake Tahoe, CA | Photo by Jared Manninen

Snowshoe near Highway 89 (north of South Lake Tahoe’s “Y” intersection of Highway 50/89)

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.

Snowshoeing in South Lake Tahoe
Snowshoeing near Washoe Meadow in South Lake Tahoe, CA | Photo by Jared Manninen

Snowshoe Meyers

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.

Snowshoe South Lake Tahoe

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.

Snowshoeing in South Lake Tahoe
Snowshoeing near Washoe Meadow in South Lake Tahoe, CA | Photo by Jared Manninen

Snowshoe near Highway 89 (south of Meyers) & Highway 88

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).

Snowshoe near Stateline

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.

Click on the thumbnail below to download a map of these and other South Shore snowshoeing areas:

snowshoe lake tahoe
Snowshoe areas around South Lake Tahoe, CA | Map by Jared Manninen

Considerations when snowshoeing:

  • Most of the snowshoe trails are not technical, but there are many that become steep and include significant elevation gain. They will be physically demanding and expose you to avalanche hazards. Assess the risks and know your limits.
  • Trails on public lands in the Tahoe region can be difficult to find in the winter due to a lack of signs and markers. The correct route may be challenging to find unless there are clear tracks to follow. When in doubt, turn back.
  • Trekking poles, particularly with larger baskets, provide stability while snowshoeing in deep snow and on steep inclines. Winter boots, snow pants, and/or gaiters will also make trekking through the snow more safe and enjoyable.
  • Most of the snowshoe areas are located on public lands which means they are used by different outdoor enthusiasts, including cross-country skiers. Don’t walk on cross-country ski tracks.
  • You can park nearly anywhere along roads so long as you don’t obstruct traffic, block Forest Service gates, or impede snow removal vehicles while they’re operating.
  • Pack extra clothes, food, and water, and leave your itinerary with someone who will notify emergency services if you don’t return on time.
  • Dogs are allowed on public lands, but keep them on a leash and pick up after them.

Options for renting and buying snowshoe equipment and purchasing Sno-Park permits:

  • Camp Richardson (rent) | 1900 Jameson Beach Rd. | 530-542-6584 (Mountain Sports Center)
  • Kirkwood Ski Resort (rent and sell) | 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Dr. | 209-258-6000
  • Powder House (rent) | 1133 Ski Run Blvd. | 530-541-7470
  • Rip N’ Willies (rent) | 1144 Ski Run Blvd. | 530-541-6366
  • Sierra Ski & Cycle Works (rent and sell) | 3430 Lake Tahoe Blvd. | 530-541-7505
  • SnoShoe Tahoe Tours ProPowderGuides | 775-298-6440
  • Sunrise Ski and Snowboard Rental (Sno-Park permits) | 3202 Highway 50 | 530-577-3176
  • Tahoe Paradise Chevron (Sno-Park permits) | 2986 Highway 50 | 530-577-1127
  • Tahoe Roadrunner (Sno-Park permits) | 2933 Highway 50 | 530-577-6946
  • Tahoe Sports LTD (rent and sell) | 4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd. #7 | 530-600-4581

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