Guide To Hiking The Stunning Rubicon Trail in Lake Tahoe, CA

Lake Tahoe Hikes

How to Hike the Stunning Rubicon Trail in Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe Hikes

With summer around the corner, I assume most of you are planning your next hiking adventures where you can dedicate a day to soak in the mesmerizing mountain views and take a dip in the refreshing lakes.

If you live in California, then you are in luck as it’s full of beautiful hiking trails with hidden water gems and breathtaking views. One of these is the stunning Rubicon trail located in South Lake Tahoe, California, connecting the two most beautiful state parks of California, D.L. Bliss, and Emerald Bay.

So if you are planning a break from urban life and want to take a pleasant hike in nature, then keep reading to learn about the Rubicon Trail. In this post, I will share some important information on how to enjoy your hike along this beautiful trail to the fullest.

Rubicon Trail: Overview

Length: 26.4 km/8 miles one-way

Elevation: 703 m

Time To Complete: 7h 7min

Difficulty: Moderately challenging

Best Time To Visit:  May till September

Terrain: Dirt with granite rocks and boulders

Crowdy: Yes

Parking Cost: $10/day

Where does the Rubicon Trail start in Tahoe?

The Rubicon Trail is one of the most popular trails in Lake Tahoe. It starts at the north shore of the lake, near the town of Tahoe City. From there, it winds its way through the Sierra Nevada mountains, eventually ending up at Emerald Bay State Park.

Along the way, hikers can enjoy stunning views of the lake and the surrounding landscape. The trail is also a great place to see wildlife, including eagles, bears, and Deer. While the Rubicon Trail can be challenging at times, it is ultimately a rewarding experience for all who undertake it.

For those looking for an adventurous hike with stunning views, the Rubicon Trail is a great option.

The trail itself is well-marked and relatively easy to follow. However, there are some areas that can be challenging, including a few steep sections with loose rocks. But the effort is worth it, as the trail takes hikers through forests, meadows, and beside lakes and streams. Along the way, there are also several places where hikers can take a break and enjoy the incredible views.

How difficult is the Rubicon Trail in Lake Tahoe?

The Rubicon Trail is a 22-mile off-road trail that runs along the shore of Lake Tahoe. It is open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders from May to October. The trail is notoriously difficult, with several sections that are only passable by experienced hikers.

In addition, the trail is often crowded during peak season, making it difficult to find a parking spot or camp site. However, the difficulty of the Rubicon Trail is also what makes it so rewarding. The stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains are well worth the effort, and there are few places in the world that offer such an intense hiking experience. If you’re looking for a challenge, the Rubicon Trail is definitely worth checking out.

The Rubicon Trail: What To See?

Lake Tahoe Hiking Sites

If you’re looking for an unforgettable hike with stunning views, look no further than the Rubicon Trail. This 11-mile trail runs along the shore of Lake Tahoe and includes several highlights, such as:

  • Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that was built in 1929, is one of the first things you’ll see on the trail. The estate is surrounded by towering trees and has stunning views of Lake Tahoe.
  • D.L. Bliss State Park is another highlight of the Rubicon Trail. The park has miles of hiking trails, a scenic campground, and an observation point where you can see for miles.  Further down the trail, you’ll come to a sandy beach where you can take a dip in the refreshing water.
  • Eagle Point Campground is the perfect place to set up camp for the night. The campground has beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
  • Buck Island Waterfall is one of the final stops on the Rubicon Trail. The waterfall is over 100 feet tall and is an impressive sight to behold. Whether you’re looking for historic landmarks, stunning scenery, or a place to camp for the night, Rubicon Trail has something for everyone.

Where do you park for the Rubicon Trail in Tahoe?

If you’re looking to tackle the Rubicon Trail in Tahoe, you’ll need to know where to park. The most popular starting point for the trail is Loon Lake, which is about an hour away from South Lake Tahoe.

There are a few different parking options at Loon Lake, but the best bet is to find a spot at one of the day-use areas. These usually fill up early, so it’s important to get there early (read before 09:00) if you want a spot.

Another option is to park at one of the campgrounds in the area. However, these can be quite crowded on weekends and holidays, so you may want to consider another option if you’re looking for a more peaceful experience.

If you don’t mind a bit of a hike, you can also park at Echo Lakes trailhead, which is about 2 miles from the Rubicon Trailhead. While this option will add some extra mileage to your hike, it’s a good choice if you’re looking to avoid the crowds.

No matter where you choose to park, make sure you follow all posted signs and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

What To Wear To A Hike To The Rubicon Trail

Basically, it all depends on when you plan to hike there. So if you are planning to go there during summer, a pair of hiking shorts with a tank top and low-cut hiking boots make the most appropriate hiking outfit

Well if you are hiking to Rubicon Trail in winter, then be prepared to see some snow, so pack your thermals, a warm jacket, hiking pants, and a sweater.

If you are confused about whether you should buy a pair of mid-cut hiking boots or low-cut hiking boots, then read this article on mid vs low-cut hiking boots to help you make the decision. Although my all-time favorite is  Salomon X Ultra Men’s Hiking Boots due to their extreme comfort, versatility, and durability.

Some Thing To Remember

Lake Tahoe Hiking Tips

Rubicon Trail is scenic, challenging, and has something for everyone. But before you lace up your boots and hit the trail, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • First, always check the weather forecast and trail conditions before heading out. This allows to prepare and pack according to the predicted weather and enjoy a smooth, hassle-free hike.
  • Second, make sure you have plenty of food and water with you. The trail is almost 10 miles long, and it can be easy to get dehydrated or hungry.
  • Take your time and enjoy the scenery. Rubicon Trail is known for its breathtaking views, so make sure to savor the experience. In my opinion, instead of focusing on finishing the trail, take your sweet time to fully explore one part of the trail.
  • Hate to break this to you, pets are not allowed on this trail, so you might have to leave your furry friends at home. Bummer! Right?
  • Be sure to pack your swimsuit, because no one can resist jumping in the water after seeing the crystal blue water of its lakes. The same goes for sunscreen and hats because of plenty of sun exposure.
  • Always use a navigation system.
  • Leave no trace of camping or campfire on the trail.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your hike on Rubicon Trail is safe and enjoyable.


I hope this has convinced you to visit this stunning trail in California… lined with pine trees, hidden waterfalls, and crystal clear lakes. If you are concerned about the difficulty of this trail, remember, good things do not come easy.

Yes, you might be exhausted, but believe me, the breathtaking views will make the experience worthwhile. Although there are some steep sections near the beginning and end as you approach Eagle Point Campground, most of the trail is flat.

We hope that this article has helped you but if you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I love to answer your questions. Happy Hiking!

About the Author: Hussain from Hiker Needs is a passionate hiker and traveler that loves the outdoors and enjoys what nature has to give, whenever he can he loves to write and give tips & honest reviews to help others get outdoors and just seek more unforgettable experiences. You can find him for more on Pinterest as well.


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