Eagle Lake Hike – Lake Tahoe


What? : The Eagle Lake hike is popular 2 miles out and back hiking trail near Emerald Bay, in South Shore Lake Tahoe. On this trail you will hike up the creek surrounding by mountainous peaks, you will see a waterfall on your way up and the lake itself is a perfect example of an alpine lake.


Where? :  Trailhead is located on highway 89 at Emerald Bay, at the south west “corner” of Lake Tahoe.

There is a small parking lot at the trailhead, you can park on highway 89 roadside parking, or you can park your car at Emerald Bay State Park parking lot quarter of a mile north of the trailhead.

Google Map Link


When? : late Spring, Summer and Fall. Winter all is covered with snow and ice.

Additional Blogs on locations near Lake Tahoe:
Bear at South Lake Tahoe
Emerald Bay State Park – Lake Tahoe
Susie Lake Hike – Lake Tahoe


Due note 1: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.


Due note 2: it is $5 to park in the lot directly next to the trailhead but this is a very small parking lot, it’s free on the side of Highway 89, and it costs $10 to park at the Emerald Bay parking lot (quarter of a mile to the north).


Due note 3: You do need a permit as this hike is in Desolation Wilderness. You can get a free wilderness permit at the trailhead.


Due note 4: The hike to the lake is all an incline, but it’s not particularly steep. Families with kids can do this hike.


My thoughts: I like this short and rewording hike. In less than a mile you hike in a running water creek, getting into mountain valley surrounded by high ragged mountain ridges and have the view of an alpine lake. This is probably one of the best short hikes in south lake Tahoe.



The visit:


This is 1.9-mile out-and-back trail near South Lake Tahoe, California.

This trail considered a moderately but if you take it easy, I will rank it as easy hike that families can enjoy. It can take you 1.5 hour including rest time at the lake.

You do have in this hike 450 feet of elevation gain, up all the way to the lake and down on your way back to your starting point.


The Eagle Falls Trail showcases all what you can find in lake Tahoe landscape the Lake Tahoe Basin has to offer. This route is short and easy enough for the whole family. There is something for everyone here: waterfalls, creeks, towering granite peaks, and Eagle Lake view.


This is a very popular area for hiking and landscape viewing, so you'll likely see many other people hiking the trail. The best times to visit this trail are May (after snow melt) through October.


Make sure to get to the parking lot early, try to arrive here before 9 AM, as the small parking lot fills up fast.

After your hike to the lake cross the highway to the lake side and see the lower falls.


The Hike:

The trail starts by heading up on a path of stone stairs climbing up the creek. About a 0.2 mile into the hike the trail crosses the creek to the other side over a high bridge, the trail continues up through a forested area.

At some point the forest clear and you can enjoy the view of the surrounding granite rock wall of the surrounding mountains.

After this, you will enter the Desolation Wilderness, which you can get a permit for near the parking lot.

About 0.8 miles in, you will see the sign to continue right for Eagle Lake and soon you will see the lake in front of you.

When I visit here (mid-June 2022) it was cold late afternoon with blowing wind, a summer storm front was getting into the area, no one entered the lake to swim.

It can be crowded where the trail reaches the lake.

You can’t walk around the entire lake, but if you walk to the left or right far enough, you’ll soon leave the crowds behind.

After you are done relaxing here, you will head back the way you came for an easy downhill hike.


After, or before, your hike be sure to spend some time checking out Emerald Bay view.

Cross the road to the lake side and see up close the lower Eagle waterfall. You can also walk up the road north to Emerald Bay Park, take the protected people trail on the bay side of the road. After short walk you will get to Emerald Bay Park parking lot, it has an amazing bay panorama viewpoint.

If you have time from the viewing point you can walk one mile down and get to the bay shore.