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Mount Tallac, Lake Tahoe

Unparalleled vistas await the Tahoe hiker on a memorable journey to the lake’s tallest peak.

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 9.5 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview:  The jewel in the crown of mountains which ring Lake Tahoe, Mt. Tallac promises unparalleled views from its summit 9,735ft above sea... more »

Tips:  • Remember to register for a free Desolation Wilderness permit at the trailhead.
• June to October is the best time to hike Tallac.... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Mt. Tallac Trailhead

The classic 9½ mile out-and-back day hike to Mount Tallac begins at the trailhead on the southwestern side of Lake Tahoe, between Emerald Bay and Camp Richardson.

When driving to the trailhead, make a turn inland at Mt. Tallac Road and follow the well-signed route to the reasonably sized parking lot.

Be sure to register your day hike in the... More

2. Destination Wilderness Boundary

Permits are necessary within the boundary of the Desolation Wilderness, a federally protected wilderness area strewn with granite, peaks and lakes which is a great (and popular) destination for backpackers.

Day hikers need only register for a free permit at the trailhead, whereas campers must apply in advance and pay a fee.

3. Floating Island Lake

The first of today's two lakes is Floating Island Lake, and a great place to stretch the legs and cool off.

4. Stream Crossing

Simple stream crossing which usually runs low enough to make for an easy passage.

5. Fallen Leaf Lake Junction

Take a right turn here to continue towards Mt. Tallac. The other route heads to the South shores of Fallen Leaf Lake, 900ft beneath us.

6. Cathedral Lake

Cathedral Lake marks the edge of the forest canopy, and from now on we'll be increasingly exposed to the elements so be sure to top up that sunblock layer.

The next segment of the journey will also involve some of the steepest terrain. Try and keep up a steady pace up Cathedral Basin and soon you'll be a thousand feet higher and into the meadows,... More

7. Glen Alpine Trail Junction

You're almost at the summit! Hang right and proceed up the trail to the slopes of talus which indicate that you're nearing your destination.

The other fork of the trail leads along the Glen Alpine Trail into Gilmore Lake and Desolation Wilderderness. Popular with backpackers on multi-day trips this alternate route can also be completed in a... More

8. Mount Tallac Summit (9,735ft)

Mount Tallac offers probably the best view you'll find around Lake Tahoe, where you can survey the entirety of the landscape in all directions around you.