5 North Tahoe hikes during SLT Forest Service closures

Miranda Jacobson


INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — With most of the forest still shut down due to fire danger on Lake Tahoe’s South and West shores, many are looking for places to get outside and hike this fall before the wintertime takes over in the basin.

Public affairs specialist for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Lisa Herron, said that even though it’s disappointing to not be able to hike our favorite South and West shore trails, the North Shore still holds plenty of adventure for any level hiker.

“The views are just incredible,” said Herron. “You get a different perspective than you do from the South Shore. There are some beautiful vistas up there, and there are a lot of different places to go.”

Herron suggested many local favorites, including the easy East Shore Trail, which takes hikers in a 2.6-mile point-to-point trip starting at the Tunnel Creek Cafe, and ending at Sand Harbor State Park. The easy terrain and short distance makes the trail easy for anyone looking to walk with their dog or take their family out for a day at the beach.

The Tahoe East Shore Trail also offers historical information about Lake Tahoe and the east shore wildlife, which can be seen at certain points throughout the entire trail.
Miranda Jacobson/Tahoe Daily Tribune

Along with finding the perfect trail to explore, Herron said that hiking safety and practicing ethical outdoor activity is important as more people make the trip up to the North Shore to enjoy the already heavily-trafficked trails.

“Something that’s so important is to help preserve our natural resources in the basin,” said Herron. “Of course, probably the most important is to leave no trace, or the pack it in pack out policy. When you get up there, you’re not going to find a lot of facilities. They’re basically just trailheads. So people need to be prepared to pack out everything that they bring in.”

Additionally, Herron recommends that while all of the basin’s trails are beautiful, hikers should stay on those trails and avoid venturing off of them for their own safety.

“Those trails are there for public use, and we want to make sure that we take advantage of those new ones and not the old trails,” she said.

The view from the Tahoe East Shore Trail is idylic for those who would like an easy walk and beautiful views. Provided by Miranda Jacobson

Other important tips Herron had to give included making sure to remember there are no public restrooms on most of these trails, and hikers should be prepared to bury any waste at least 6 inches below the ground. Also, hikers should be prepared with plenty of water, leashes for their pets if the trail requires, and doggy bags.

Finally, Herron hopes hikers remember that they are recreating in bear territory. With an influx of bears on the North Shore due to the fires causing displacement, there is plenty of risk of running into a napping bear on your hike, or getting your food rifled through on your next camping trip.

“There’s a responsibility that comes with recreating in bear territory,” said Herron. “They’re highly attracted to scented items. While bear canisters are not mandatory, we do highly recommend them.”

A bear canister is an alternative to hanging food, which Herron said is becoming unsuccessful as more bears are getting food down.

Bear canisters make food and scented items secure from bears, and relieves a lot of the stress of attracting bears to your campsite.

Below is a list of hikes on the North Shore that have been compiled from easiest to hardest, with the hardest being a part of the Tahoe Rim Trail and ranging almost 26 miles. Also, there’s a bonus for mountain bike lovers.

Trail Name: Spooner Lake Trail

Type and Length: 2.5-mile loop trail

Location: Near Glenbrook, Nevada

Dog Friendly: Yes, leash mandatory

Difficulty Level: Easy

Additional Information: A great scenic hike for families, especially with children. Also a great place for fishing. The main entrance and parking areas are currently closed for construction, but parking is available along Highway 28, about a half a mile northwest of the U.S. Highway 50 junction. Park hours are from sunrise to sunset.

Trail Name: Tahoe East Shore Trail

Type and Length: 2.6 mile point-to-point trail

Location: Near Incline Village-Crystal Bay, Nevada

Dog Friendly: Yes, leash mandatory

Difficulty Level: Easy

Information: The long-awaited Tahoe East Shore Trail offers amazing views and access to beautiful Hidden Beach. Dogs are allowed on leashes. Parking is available at the beginning of the trail, which is located on Tunnel Creek Road in Incline Village. Self paid parking is required. The trail ends at Sand Harbor.

Trail Name: Monkey Rock

Type and Length: 2.5-mile out and back trail

Location: Near Incline Village-Crystal Bay, Nevada

Dog Friendly: Yes, leash mandatory

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Information: About a mile up Tunnel Creek Road, the Monkey Rock trail offers epic views and an amazing granite boulder at the top that looks just like a monkey. Self-pay parking is required here as well, and the intensity is taken up a notch from the East Shore Trail. Bring lots of water, and be prepared for a few steep inclines.

Trail Name: The Flume Trail (Bonus, big for Mountain Biking)

Type and Length: 12.8-mile point-to-point trail

Location: Near Glenbrook, Nevada

Dog Friendly: Yes, leash mandatory

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Information: Described as moderately difficult, the Flume Trail Mountain Bike ride traverses above several steep sections and could be scary for those who are not a fan of heights. Located only a half a mile away from the shoreline, hikers or riders can stop and take in the breathtaking views, and then enjoy a nice meal at Tunnel Creek Cafe.

Trail Name: Mount Rose Trail

Type and Length: 10.7-mile loop trail

Location: Near Incline Village-Crystal Bay, Nevada

Dog Friendly: Yes, and horses

Difficulty Level: Hard

Information: With an elevation of up to 10,776 feet, hikes can take on the challenge of making their way up the third tallest peak in the Lake Tahoe Basin. With a variety of changing leaves and winding creeks, the beautiful views of Carson City, Lake Tahoe, and even Donner Lake are all able to be viewed from this trail. Parking along Mt. Rose Hwy (SR 431) is available for free. When heading to the Mt. Rose Trail, turn right at the Big Meadow Trail Junction to get all the way to the top.

Trail Name: Tahoe Rim Trail, Mt. Rose Summit to Spooner Lake

Type and Length: 25.4-mile point to point trail

Location: Near Reno, Nevada

Dog Friendly: Yes, leash mandatory

Difficulty Level: Hard, Experienced only

Information: This trail is suggested for experienced hikers only, as it is the most difficult trail in this list. As a part of the Tahoe Rim Trail, this 25-mile hike takes hikers along the ridge line above the east shore of Lake Tahoe. The terrain is not incredibly difficult, but the trail is long and dry, so hikers should remember plenty of water. Remember when doing this trail to leave a car at the site you will end at in order to get back home in good time. If you start at Mount Rose Summit, you will come out at the Spooner North Trailhead at the north side of U.S. 50, about a half a mile away from the Highway 28 intersection.

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