Tahoe Rim Trail

165.00 Miles
4000 Feet
4stars (4.25)2
3point5stars (3.50)
3stars (3.00)
Zephyr Cove-Round Hill Village
More Info
Panoramic view of Lake Tahoe
The view from Picnic Rock pieced together from several photos. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Tahoe Rim Trail
Beyond the Picnic Rock Spur the trail is much more tranquil with fewer people, fewer fallen trees and a good bit quieter. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Lake Tahoe
Picnic Rock is popular for a reason. One could spend quite a bit of time just soaking up this view. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Excuse me
Excuse me. Do you have any food you can spare? (Photo by Austin Explorer)
One of the overly friendly chipmunks hamming it up for the camera at Picnic Rock. Oh, and there's Lake Tahoe in the background too. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
A family leaving Picnic Rock and heading back towards the main Tahoe Rim Trail. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone and Lake Tahoe
Coppertone at Picnic Rock with almost all of Lake Tahoe visible in the background. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Trail View
Even before getting to Picnic Rock the trail offered nice views of Lake Tahoe through the trees. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Log Entries
Out to Picnic Rock for a view of all of Lake Tahoe
By Austin Explorer on 6/18/2018
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 4.64 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 36 minutes

Coppertone and I chose this portion of the long Tahoe Rim Trail because of the well known scenic spot of Picnic Rock.  We parked along Highway 267 and crossed the road to get to the trailhead.  The are a few switchbacks here and a steady ascent from the road.  The signs point to there having been a fire here in the not too distant past.  Some trunks shows signs of charring and a large number of trees had fallen.  Someone, perhaps the forest service, had come up and cut up some of the felled trees into smaller chunks which we sometimes aggreagated into conical piles.

The fallen trees were somewhat reduced a bit over a mile from the highway near the junction with the Picnic Rock spur.  There are two signs along the trail which indicate where you need to turn.  The tree cover remains fairly dense right up until the moment you come upon the rock formation known as Picnic Rock.  A quick 180 degree turn rewards the hiker with a sweeping view of almost the entire lake.

One might be forgiven if one assumes Picnic Rock is named for the hikers who stop by here to have a meal or snack while they take in the breathtaking views.  That certainly does happen.  However, it may be more truthful to admit that it's the neighborhood chipmunks who do most of the picnicking here.  Years of hikers feeding the tiny creatures have given them a boldness that belies their size.  Merely sitting still for a period of time is likely to result in one of them to come right up and crawl into your lap to investigate whether you have anything to offer.  It's hard to resist them and obviously quite a number of hikers fail to adhere to the rule about not feeding the wildlife.

After lunch we got back on the main trail and continued heading northeast until we had decided that it was probably time for us to turn around in order to make our day hike of a suitable size.  It was a shame in a way because outside of the views of the lake the path here was amongst the most enjoyable in the hike.  The number of people on the trail dropped dramatically.  Everyone goes to Picnic Rock.  Almost no one ventures further.  There were far fewer fallen trees and everything just seemed more peaceful and quiet.

We doubled back towards our starting point and started encountering lots of people again, which is why we set the solitude of this hike the way we did.  One of the more disturbing sights was a couple ascending straight uphill, ignoring the switchbacks designed to ease the ascent and cut down on erosion.  The worst part was the fact the man was carrying a baby in his arms while it did this!

Loop Around Lake Tahoe
By Lone_Star on 8/6/2013
Rating: 4point5stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 174.00 Miles Duration: 11 days

The Tahoe Rim Trail is one of the world’s premier trails. It passes through two states (California and Nevada), six counties, one state park, three National Forests, and three Wilderness areas. This spectacular trail is 165 miles of single-track multiuse trail, winding from peak to peak around Lake Tahoe. It is a trail that offers something for everyone! Hiking and horseback riding are allowed on all portions of the trail, while mountain biking is allowed on the trail except in wilderness areas, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, and on trail segments that overlap the Pacific Crest Trail.

The TRT was one of my two planned extended thru-hikes for 2013 (the JMT was the other).  It took me 11 days to complete, but I hiked at a reasonable rate always reminding myself it was not a race.  Instead, I was focused on enjoying the experience and taking good photographs and video.

Unlike most people, I hiked in a counterclockwise direction, starting at Kingsbury North and ending at Kingsbury South.  Hiking in a counterclockwise direction allowed me to run into more people on the trail, including PCT thru-hikers heading north to Canada.

The Nevada side of Lake Tahoe was drier than the California side.  Locating water sources for resupply was a major planning factor on this hike.  In some sections you had to hike 15-20 miles over mountainous terrain to get to the next viable water source.  The net result was you had to carry a lot of water in some sections, adding to your already heavy pack weight.

The scenery was incredibly beautiful.  I was very fortunate in that I had perfect weather for the entire 11 days.  Blue skies, sunshine, moderately warm temperature, and no rain or precipitation.

Desolation Wilderness is arguably the most scenic part of the trail.  This area requires a permit that costs $10.  I purchased mine at the William Kent Campground near Tahoe City.

Some parts of the trail are for hikers and horses only.  Other parts of the trail also allow mountain bikes.  I had a few close calls due to mountain bikers riding too fast and I was perturbed to see mountain bikers riding in sections where mountain bikes were not allowed (e.g., the wilderness areas).

All in all, this is a great place to hike and backpack.  I highly recommend it!