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best hikes in tahoe

Lake Tahoe’s Best Hikes – Wildflowers and Waterfalls

As a Truckee resident for more than 20 years, I’ve laced up the boots, grabbed the camera and covered a lot of ground. This time of year is prime time for wildflowers and waterfalls as you’ll find here on some of my favorite local trails.
By Paul Hamill

Lacey Meadows

This gem of a meadow is just 45 minutes northwest of Truckee but demands a full day at the least or, better yet, an overnight campout. Here, you’re at the headwaters of the Little Truckee River. The trailhead for this level, 6-mile round trip hike begins just west of Webber Lake. Aside from fields of flowers, you’ll find fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking and a campground where you can settle in under a night of Milky Way skies.

Shirley Canyon

shirley canyon tahoe

Challenging and beautiful are two words that come to mind when I tell friends about this 4.5-mile trek at Squaw Valley. You can shorten the hike by traveling out and back along the creeks as far as you want or take it all the way up and over granite fields, past Shirley Lake and up to High Camp at Squaw Valley. If the tram’s running and your legs aren’t, take the free tram ride down (when running).

Sagehen Creek

sagehen creek tahoe
Head north of Truckee on Highway 89 a few miles and you’ll pass over Sagehen Creek. Parking is limited and weekends normally find the pullout crowded but set out on this gentle 4-mile roundtrip hike and – toward the end of the trail – you’ll encounter meadows that are mad with Camas Lilies. Come back five months later and you’ll find aspens and
kokanee salmon sporting coats of gold and red.

Horsetail Falls

horsetail falls tahoe

Plan early for this drive as you’ll venture beyond South Lake Tahoe to Highway 50 and the Twin Bridges trailhead just past Strawberry. Parking is $5 but the scene is priceless, a 3-mile round trip hike loaded with one amazing sight after another. Best plan: pack a lunch, water and your camera and make a full day of it.
By Paul Hamill