Rubicon Trail

Desolation Wilderness

Lake Tahoe

A scenic hike along Lake Tahoe's shore that links overlooks, swimming beaches, a waterfall, and a historic mansion in two state parks.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
9.7 km
Ascent
282 m
Descent
205 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
1.9 km
High Point
2 km
Gradient
Rubicon Trail Map

The Rubicon Trail is an eye-popping tour of Lake Tahoe’s shore, and the trail conveniently links D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay state parks. You can hike any distance out and back along the trail, and start from any of three main trailheads, but the full-value hike is from one end to the other, doable as a one-way if you set a vehicle shuttle.

Description

The north end is at Calawee Cove in D.L. Bliss State Park. From here the trail leads along a lofty hillside overlooking Lake Tahoe. Some parts pass beneath rock overhangs on a steep slope, where there are chains for security in case you feel the need to hold them.

Heading south, the trail finds the shore of Emerald Bay and its fantastic sandy beaches—perfect for lounging and swimming on a hot day. Enjoy constant views of the shimmering blue water and surrounding mountains.

You will likely start to encounter a lot more people as you near the head of the bay. This is where Vikingsholm historic mansion and Eagle Falls are located. Take a short side hike uphill to the waterfall viewing platform, and take time to explore the inside of the mansion. Then you can continue on the trail which climbs a little bit onto a hillside once again and wraps around the south shore of Emerald Bay. It finishes at Upper Eagle Point Campground.

Sources: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?pageid=506 https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/506/files/DLBlissEmeraldBayFinalWeb122917.pdf

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area