5 Must Do Fall Hikes In Lake Tahoe
Surround yourself in beautiful autumn colors and striking scenery along Lake Tahoe's picturesque trails.
There’s something simplistically beautiful about fall that makes us want to get outdoors. Whether you’ve got an afternoon for a family hike, a full day for a big climb or a long weekend, you’ll find a trail in Lake Tahoe. So lace up those shoes — here are the five best hikes across Lake Tahoe and Truckee to take in autumn's colors before winter hides them in white.
Sugar Pine Point
The General Creek Trail is noted to be a great place to see the golden Aspens during fall and is significant because it was home to the historic 1960 Olympic Cross Country Skiing Trail. The trail begins at the Sugar Pine Point State Park which is ten miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89. It is a 4.5-mile loop through a lush, aspen lined meadow with moderate elevation gain. Hikers can choose to add another mile to get to Lily Pond. There are intersections of other trails that can take you to Duck Lake and Lost Lake, though those hikes are longer and more strenuous. Because the trail starts in a state park, there will be an entry fee. Leashed dogs are allowed on the General Creek Fire Road (where the trail starts) but not on any un-paved trails.
Up north 89 you will find a wonderland of trails at all difficulty levels. Sagehen creek is a moderate 5-mile there-and-back trail that boasts vivid fall colors. The trail starts on 89 about 7 miles from Truckee. You will find the trailhead tucked away to the right (if heading north from Truckee) immediately after a highway bridge for Sagehen Creek. If you hit the Little Truckee, you’ve gone too far. The trail will follow the creek all the way to the southeast arm of Stampede Reservoir. The trail is great for bringing along youngsters, dogs, and picnics.
PaIge Meadows in Tahoe City
Paige Meadows is a moderate, 5-mile loop with beautiful aspens and is regarded as one of the best places in Tahoe to see fall colors. The trails in this area offer great biking and beautiful hiking. There are a few ways to get here:
1) From Tahoe City go South on the bike path along highway 89 for about a mile until you reach Granlibakken Road. Hang a right on Granlibakken and make your third left onto Rawhide Street. Climb up the fire road at the end of the street and it will lead you up to the meadows.
There are many trails that intersect the meadow, but they will all eventually take you to the Tahoe Rim Trail. Explore the meadows as long as you'd like (taking care to stay off the delicate wet and marshy areas, especially in the early season) and then take a right on the Tahoe Rim Trail to head South back into town.
2) The easiest way to access the meadow from Tahoe City is to take a right off Highway 89 (just before Sunnyside Restaurant) on Pine Avenue. Follow the road until an option to turn right onto Tahoe Park Heights presents itself. Follow the road up the steep hill, turning right on Big Pine and then immediately left on Silvertip Drive. Park at the end of the road and access the trails via the fire road that extends from the end of Silvertip.
Mt. Rose Wilderness and Tahoe Meadows
Mt Rose is one of the highest peaks in the North Shore and it displays a lot of flora. With two different loops and intersections of the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Ophir Creek Trail, Tahoe Meadows is a great place to explore Mt Rose. If you’re coming from Truckee, take 267 to 28. Head east towards Incline Village. When you get to the roundabout before Incline, head left towards Highway 431. You will drop down into a valley before the summit of Mt. Rose. I suggest parking at the first loop (the first parking area in the meadow on the right). From here, you can meander along the Meadow Loop. I suggest catching the well-marked Tahoe Rim Trail from there. The trail has a moderate climb, but will summit you at a vista point of Lake Tahoe. If you are interested in the Tahoe Meadows trail only, it is a very easy trail. Most it lies on a boardwalk and is handicapped accessible. Dogs and children will love the trail as well.
Spooner Lake Trail
Spooner is a scenic drive down East Shore Tahoe from Truckee. The lake lies in a State Recreation Area that is almost at the intersection of Highway 28 and 50. The trail is an easy 2-mile loop that follows the shore of the lake. It is great in the fall because of the many Aspens that grow in the area. There is a fee for entering the park. It is handicapped accessible, child and dog friendly.