Mt. Tallac Trail

Mt. Tallac Trail, South Lake Tahoe: Address, Phone Number, Mt. Tallac Trail Reviews: 4.5/5

Mt. Tallac Trail
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241 reviews
Very good

den r
Los Angeles, CA278 contributions
Jul 2020
About a two hour drive from Sacramento and easy to find trailhead. Parking area but soon is at capacity so get there early or park alongside the dirt road.

Varied terrain with lovely wildflowers and lakes dotting the landscape makes for a wonderful adventure. The last couple of miles on the ascent you come across a false peak and then once over the rise, you have another mile to go. We shortcutted on the descent by literally sliding down the rocks but this is also a good way to sprain an ankle although we were fine. A good pair of shoes with excellent grip and ankle support is almost mandatory.

Saw some kids swimming in Cathedral Lake and that makes a refreshing stop. No mosquitoes this time of year in July.

Afternoon thunderstorms are an issue and I suggest summiting by noon at the latest or even earlier as you are on fully exposed rock on the way down for a couple of miles. Most hikers were wearing masks or at least held a buff to their face as we passed by so that was nice.
Written July 30, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

California39 contributions
Jun 2021
Contrary to what others have posted online, I found the trail was not well marked. It took me 2 attempts to reach the summit. Even on my second attempt I had to double back three times to find the trail. I see the hike up to the summit in 3 sections. In section 1 the hiker goes through a pine forest passing by 2 small lakes and a grand view of Fallen Leaf Lake. In this section the trail is well marked and easy to follow. In section 2 the hiker leaves the pine forest and ascends up rocks and boulders. Section 2 is the most technical part of the hike. Some of the rocks are unstable and reading the trail becomes difficult. Previous hikers set up cairns as guideposts. But there are no official markers such as red dots every 100 meters. In section 3 the hiker leaves the boulders and enters an area of meadows with scattered pine trees. Again the trail is not well marked. I also disagree with other online reviews saying the trail is exposed once you leave the pine forest (section 1). In section 3 the hiker will pass by groups of pine trees. Similar to section 2, I found previous hikers set up their own guideposts such as a ribbon on a tree.
What I appreciate about this hike are the views from the top. Definitely something I would have expected from a national park or world heritage site. I also appreciate how the hike changes with elevation. The hike goes from pine forest, to rocks and boulders, and then to meadows with scattered trees.
But again the hike can be frustrating. Other hikers I met as I descended from the summit also said the trail was not well marked. A local also commented his friend had to call for search and rescue when attempting this hike.
Written June 22, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Starkville, MS65 contributions
Jul 2020 • Couples
Coming from 500ft above sea level, there was definitely some adjusting to the altitude. Rocky terrain most of the way, but well worth the effort. 10 miles out and back, 7 hours round trip, counting all stops. (I recommend Cathedral “Lake” prior to the final push)
Written July 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Richmond, VA4 contributions
May 2018 • Family
Trail requires some effort to hike but views can't be beat. Passby three mountain lakes on the way up. We went in mid May and I had to stop about 500 feet of summit due to the deep snow. Hard to believe at this time of year.
Written May 25, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sacramento, CA21 contributions
Jul 2018 • Couples
On July 11th 2018 I had the pleasure of hiking to the summit of Mt. Tallac. My wife and I arrived at the trailhead around 8:47am. We stopped at Camp Richardson to grab a quick bite and to use the restroom before heading to the trailhead. Camp Richardson is about 1/2 mile from the access road to the trailhead. You will see the Baldwin Beach sign and then you will turn opposite of the beach. Parking is very limited at the trailhead so cars are spread all the way along the access road. I am passing along a few tips to hopefully help those who attempt this hike in the future.
1) Yes, it is 10 miles with 3200 feet of elevation gain.
2) This is not a hike for those with weak ankles or bad knees. A majority of this hike is stepping over rocks both very large and small.
3) I recommend smart water because you will sweat a lot, especially if you leave late in the morning. It does get warm at the summit and on the way down. I took 4 liters of water and drank it all.
4) Be sure to apply sun block before leaving the trailhead and again at the summit. I must admit that I did not use lip balm that protected me from the sun...I paid for it a couple of days later.
5) Please have the correct type of hiking footwear for this hike, you will need all of the support possible.
6) The views are incredible at the summit, be sure to have your cell phone charged so that you will be able to take many pictures.
7) Have sufficient snacks to give you energy to complete this great hike.
8) Finally, have a chocolate milk on ice ready to drink when you finish your hike. It will help to prevent soreness that many hikers experience.
9) Enjoy this hike and hopefully your next hike will be Mt. Dana and I might cross paths with you on that trail.
Written July 14, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Daphne, AL89 contributions
Gorgeous views for multiple places along the trail. We couldn't make it to the summit due to deep snow, up to three feet in places. Even if you only go 1 to 1 1/2 miles in you will have some great views.
Written March 11, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Seattle306 contributions
Aug 2012 • Couples
Mt Tallac is easily the best hike in the Tahoe area. From the top, you can almost see all of Lake Tahoe.

Trail - 10 miles RT, 3,250 ft elv gain., 9,739 ft at the top.

The trail starts out pretty easy, you get an early payoff on the ridge line with a view of Fallen Leaf Lake. After winding on for awhile longer you come across floating island lake and then Cathedral lake. Many people stop here and turn around, making for an easy day hike. After passing Cathedral lake, the real fun begins. You get out of the tree line and gain a ton of elevation all at once. Be careful on this segment, its slippery with the gravel. When you get to the top of the next ridge, you wind around the back side of the mountain, it levels off a lot here. Then its time to make the final push to the summit. Its very rocky here, so take your time. Now you've made it! A sweeping view of the valley on all sides, Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf lake and the mountains behind it. You'll use a lot of film (or memory) on pictures up here.

Time - It took us 3 hours 45 minutes to get up & about 2 & a half hours to get down. We stopped a lot for pictures, but for those not in the best of shape, you feel every step up. There were plenty of people that passed us on the trail and we passed some people who gave up half way towards the top.

Parking - Parking is free at the trail head, but the lot is tiny. It would be easy to add a quarter to a half a mile extra each way if you don't get there before 8 am (on a weekday).

Permit - These are free as well, you just need to register at the trail head for a pass. You are required to show them if a ranger asks to see it.

What to bring - Lots of water! I would recommend two 32 oz bottles per person. Lunch for the top, a camera, sunscreen, sunglasses and anything else you would normally bring. Bugs were not a problem, but there were a lot of loud grasshoppers.

Recommendations - Start early! It gets hot up there on the rock fields and parking fills up fast. If you're from a low elevation like us, have patience on the way up. Have fun!!
Written August 12, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Pompton Plains, NJ208 contributions
Sep 2017 • Family
My wife, grown daughter and I visited Lake Tahoe in mid September. We like to day hike on our trips and there usually is one big one. On this trip Mt Tallac was the one. It is rated as strenuous but there is a portion that is rated only moderate (that's about my wife's and my limit). That part of the hike goes to two lakes - 1.7 miles to Floating Island Lake and 2.5 to Cathedral Lake for a total of 5 miles, in and out. Maybe that's not a lot for you but its pretty good for us. It is part of the Desolation Wilderness (which is just fun to say). The trail winds up a ridge to the top then follows the spine for a bit. The views are nothing short of fantastic! Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake are just magnificent! The trail continues up and down to Floating Island Lake, a small calm lake with mirror reflections of its surroundings. We continued up to Cathedral Lake an even smaller lake that feels almost on top of the world. The trail continues another 2.5 strenuous miles to the summit of Mt. Tallac but we opted out of that part. When we were there quite a few people passed us on their way to the summit yet it felt like we had the place to ourselves most of the time. It was a beautiful hike, certainly worth the effort
Written October 23, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

San Francisco, CA17 contributions
Aug 2014 • Solo
I went on Labor Day weekend and started at 1:30pm. The trailhead is located about a mile off the main highway, just look for the turnoff marked with a sign. Please note that there are no services at the trailhead such as restrooms or water. This can be a surprisingly difficult hike, so I would recommend sturdy shoes and plenty of water. The trail is 5 miles to the summit with an elevation gain of 3200 feet. The trail is well marked, but rocky in sections, so be careful not to turn an ankle on a loose rock. I would not recommend sandals. For your efforts to reach the summit, you are rewarded with some spectacular views along the way, even within the first 20 minutes on the trail. As a bonus, you will have cell coverage on parts of the trail and at the top, so you can post photos of your adventure in real-time.

I am a runner and in overall good health, it took me 2.5 hours to reach the summit at a moderate pace with occasional photo stops. I consumed almost 64 ounces of water (about 2 Gatorade bottles) on a 75 degree day. The trail passes next to several small (and beautiful) lakes along the trail, so it is possible to filter water and even go for a swim. Floating Island Lake is at mile 1.5 and Cathedral Lake at mile 3. In fact, there were lots of hikers that just went to the first lake and stayed there.

There is a particularly steep and difficult section between miles 3-4 where you climb loose gravel straight up the hill, which is then followed by several challenging switchbacks. This can be quite daunting, but it levels out one you reach the ridge line. At the summit, you will have an unparalleled 360 view of the Tahoe region with views of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay, Cascade Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake, and Gillmore Lake, just to name a few. I would recommend a rest/photo break at the summit, then head back down trail and taking a longer meal/rest break at Cathedral Lake. If you thought the trail was difficult heading up between miles 3-4, it is equally difficult on the legs coming back down, so Cathedral Lake is the perfect place to take a rest on the way down.

Overall, this is a great hike that is surprisingly easy to reach from anywhere in the Tahoe Basin. As noted, it can be challenging, so I would suggest knowing your own physical limits. Also, please come prepared with adequate water, food, extra clothing, and flashlights (at least have a flashlight app installed on your phone).

Lastly, there were at least a dozen hikers with dogs on the trail. =) Most had stopped at the first lake, however, I did see a few coming down from the summit. My only suggestion if that if you planning to take your pooch, please be sure that your dogs paws are prepared for the rocks and gravel on the trail.
Written September 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Gardnerville, United States4 contributions
Aug 2018
Make sure you start early in the morning to be able to stop and take in all the fantastic view that this trail has to offer around every bend. If you are lucky to can catch the breathtaking sights of sunrise over Fallen Leaf Lake. There are two beautiful small lakes along trail that demand a closer look and of course photo opportunities. Make sure to take snacks and plenty of water and maybe a small lunch. The last leg of the trail is strenuous so stop to catch your breath and don't over do it. Stop at every opportunity to take in the beautiful views and take pictures. And the view from the top is breathtaking. You will not regret taking this hike.
Written August 30, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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