Hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail

Lake Tahoe is 122,200 acres of cobalt blue water and reflections of the Sierra. The best way to really get to know it: The Tahoe Rim Trail. The meandering loop is a great long trail for beginners, or a laid-back walk in the woods for seasoned thru-hikers. Plus, you’d be hard-pressed to find this diversity of scenery on such a modest adventure: In less than 200 miles, the trail hops the peaks of the Sierra and Carson Ranges, traces airy ridgelines, and dives into ponderosa and lodgepole pine forest. Get ready to hike with our guide to preparing, buying gear, and travelling the Tahoe Rim Trail.

The trail is well-marked and easy to stick to, but you’ll still need a map because only major junctions have signs and markers. In winter, under a 10-foot blanket of snow, signs and the trail may not be visible.

Don’t expect cell service—it’s unreliable on much of the trail.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities for a swim: There are over a dozen lakes and streams along the way. Lake Tahoe itself is cool and clear in the summer.

Most of the trail melts out by the end of June. However, freezing temperatures and snow can occur any time of year. Expect snow at high elevations (like on Relay Peak and in Desolation Wilderness) and on north-facing slopes through July and early August, and be prepared for it year-round. Heavy snows return in October.

The beauty of the Tahoe Rim Trail is that it’s a loop: Unlike most long trails, you can start and end wherever you want. There are 10 official trailheads (and a few unofficial ones) along the Tahoe Rim Trail. Half of them are clustered around South Lake Tahoe, and the rest are scattered along the rest of the shore.

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