Emerald Bay to Eagle Lake - South Lake Tahoe

Last Saturday, after the trails conference, I got up early to watch the sunrise over Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe.  It was a beautiful scene.

The sun rose just before 6am, and I climbed up on to the rocks at the Vikingsholm parking area (in Emerald Bay State Park.) to take a few shots. My plan was to hike up to Eagle Lake.  It's not a long hike, and I wanted to take some pictures before the light got too harsh.  After a few more shots of the sunrise, I turned my attention to Lower Eagle Falls.  You can hear the roar quite clearly from up above, and when the dawn light hit the falls, it was a spectacular sight.

Lower Eagle Falls is right next to Highway 89, and I walked down the road, climbed down a bit and took some closer pictures of the falls.

Just across the street from the falls is the trailhead for the hike to Eagle Lake.  At the Harvey West Parking Area, there is a $10 fee, but at the Eagle Falls trailhead, it's only $5.  

Park here, and start your hike.

From this trailhead, you can hike deep into the Desolation Wilderness.  The hike to Eagle Lake is less than 3 miles round trip, and the Eagle Loop is an even shorter hike.  

You'll need to fill out a trail permit.  These permits are important in case something happens, and rescuers need to find you.  There is no fee for the permit.

Take the steps to your left and start your climb here.

Soon, you'll reach the upper falls.  Take a moment to enjoy this experience, then cross the bridge and continue on to Eagle Lake.

Upper Eagle Falls

View from the bridge across Upper Eagle Falls.

Building this trail must have been a lot of work, as there are plenty of stone steps along the way.

Never hike in to a place called "Desolation Wilderness" without a map!It had rained earlier in the week, so parts of the trail were wet and/or flooded.  However, it was all easily passable.

After a winter with heavy snow, this trail would probably still have some accumulation.  This year, the snow fall was light, and I only saw a few lingering drifts.  

The trees were stretching after their winter slumber.Hiking on this kind of heavily technical trail (a trail with a lot of rocks, roots, etc.) requires a lot of work, but it's great exercise.

The trail was well marked. Follow the signs to Eagle Lake.Keep an eye out for the elf house.

At about .8 of a mile, you'll see the little lake.

First view of the lake.

When I arrived at the lake, the bright dawn light was fully on me.  This is the primary source of Eagle falls, and here is the water starting its journey to the falls:

 I followed the trail around part of the lake to get a better vantage point. 

Eagle Lake

There is a little island on the lakeTake a little time to enjoy the scene.  When I went, there were only a few people around.  However, I've read that this route gets very busy in the summer.  

The walk back is downhill and easy.  Enjoy the views and watch the rocks.

Total Mileage: 2.30 miles

State Park Site (Emerald Bay State Park)


Trail Map options  (I used this one, picked up at REI)

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Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe