5 Must-Do Wildflower Hikes Near Truckee


Wildflower season is undoubtedly our favorite. With temperatures rising and the anticipation of lake days building, hiking through vast meadows decorated with rainbow florals is how we burn that spring fever. These hikes all range in ability level, from strolls through meadows to climbs up the highest peaks, there will be something here for everyone to enjoy. 

Meadows of wildflowers along the Glacier Meadow Loop & PCT

Meadows of wildflowers along the Glacier Meadow Loop & PCT

Glacier Meadow Loop Trail

At the Boreal exit on I-80, there is a great access to many hikes, including the PCT and Castle Peak. Do not be wary of this hiking area, for there are many options for easy to moderate hikes under five miles. One of these is the Glacier Meadow Loop Trail which is a spectacular place for wildflowers in the spring and early summer. The trailhead for Glacier Loop actually starts .4 miles in on the PCT but is well marked and easy to find. The loop is 1.2 miles and hikers will only gain around 100 feet throughout the trail. The trail is dog-friendly and easy for youngsters. We love this little stroll! 


Sagehen Creek

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 at 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 and dogs. We love to pack a  picnic to enjoy at Stampede. Make sure to head there by June for the ideal time to see wildflowers.

Different types of wildflowers mingling in the meadows

Different types of wildflowers mingling in the meadows

Coldstream Canyon

The best way to access the Coldstream trailhead is through the Donner Memorial State Park, but it may also be accessed through the Coldstream Valley Road south of the Donner Lake exit on I-80. This trail system is operated by California State parks and therefore has requires all dogs to be leashed. This trail is very popular year-round because of its proximity to town and Donner Lake as well as its alpine beauty. The trail is around five miles and has very little elevation gain, making it a long, but easy stroll. The glacier errosion is evident and provides spectacular scenery while you hike. Visit this trail in the early summer for those glorious wildflowers.

Hikers pass blooming Mule Ears along the Shirley Canyon, photo from Squaw Alpine.  

Hikers pass blooming Mule Ears along the Shirley Canyon, photo from Squaw Alpine. 

Shirley Canyon

Shirley Canyon is one of the most notable hikes through Squaw Valley and one of our favorite around the Tahoe Basin. The trail leads up to Shirley Lake, where hikers can spend a lovely day relaxing at. To get to the lake, hikers will ascend over 1200 feet, in a little over two miles, so this hike is not for the faint of heart. Hikers will be rewarded for the efforts with glorious meadows of wildflowers and an intimate look at the gorgeous granite mountains of Squaw. The best time for wildflowers on this trail is from late July to mid-August.

Castle Peak, photo by  Paul Hamill Photography

Castle Peak, photo by Paul Hamill Photography

Castle Peak

Castle Peak is one of the most notorious peaks in the Truckee/North Tahoe region. We frequent the trail in the winter for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, but the summer months, filled with gorgeous flowers and views, are starting to win over our hearts. Hikers will have to endure a difficult ascent, but will be rewarded with views as far as the Coastal Range (on the clearest of days). To hike to the top, you must climb over 2,200 feet in a little under 5 miles. Since Castle Peak is so high, the snow typically takes until mid-July to fully clear off meaning that wildflowers can be seen as late as September.