Best spots to hike with a picnic in Lake Tahoe |

Best spots to hike with a picnic in Lake Tahoe

Claire Cudahy
Build up an appetite on the trail to Lake Margaret.
Provided / Claire Cudahy


Download the AllTrails app for fellow hikers’ reports on trails, GPS directions to trailheads, and downloadable trail maps to keep you on track.

What’s better motivation to get moving on a trail than the reward of a picnic with aged cheese, cured meats and other delectable bites? Short of being stalked by a mountain lion, absolutely nothing.

Before the snow flies, fall is the best time to get out and enjoy the beauty of the Sierra Nevada on foot.

These five hikes, ranging in distance and difficulty, showcase the diversity of landscape in the region. Added bonus: They all boast excellent spots to chow down while taking in the views.

Lake Margaret

The hike to Lake Margaret is roughly 4.6 miles (around 500 feet in elevation gain) along an out-and-back trail in El Dorado National Forest. Large granite rocks surround the alpine lake and make for a perfect spot to spread out a picnic. The trailhead is a short jaunt from the lake near Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

Woods, Winnemucca and Round Top Lakes

Take your pick of three lakes to sit by while eating that pastrami sandwich you’ve been thinking about all morning. This 5-mile loop trail (about 1,200 feet in elevation gain) into the Mokelumne Wilderness also features sweeping views of the mountains, old mining equipment and beautiful creeks setting the soundtrack for the hike.

Spooner Lake

The 2.4-mile loop around Spooner Lake is doable for hikers of all skill levels. The trail features benches along the way that are great for taking in views of the lake while noshing on a thermos-full of soup. Or a burrito. Or a big salad. You get the idea.

Picnic Rock

Trek along the Tahoe Rim Trail near Kings Beach to find the ultimate spot for dining al fresco — Picnic Rock. The 3.1-mile (730 feet of elevation gain) out-and-back trail guides you to the vista where you’ll get an excellent view of the lake from the rocky outcrop. Cool points if you somehow manage to lug a wicker picnic basket up to its namesake rock.

Mount Tallac

If you’re a masochist, drag your lunch 3,200 feet up Mount Tallac for a day of walking 10 miles on uneven shale and questioning all of your life decisions. If you make it to the top, ask your fit friend who made you do this to feed you chunks of Gouda and salami since you lack the energy to do so yourself. Oh, and don’t forget to take in the jaw-dropping, 360-degree views of Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness while you’re up there.

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