Take a Hike: Head over Big Meadow and through the woods to Round Lake on Tahoe’s South Shore | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Take a Hike: Head over Big Meadow and through the woods to Round Lake on Tahoe’s South Shore

Anthony Gentile
Round Lake is tucked away on the South Shore, reachable via a moderate hike on a portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

Getting to the trail

From South Lake Tahoe: Take Highway 50 west toward the “Y” before turning left onto Emerald Bay Road. Travel approximately 5 miles, turn left onto Highway 89 South. After 5 miles, turn left onto South Upper Truckee Road and into parking lot — signs for trailhead are in the lot.

Hiking to Round Lake via the Big Meadow Trailhead offers two stunning sights in a single South Shore trip. On a stretch of the Tahoe Rim Trail south of Meyers, an expansive meadow and beautiful lake await just more than two and a half miles from Highway 89.


Starting in the parking lot off Highway 89, follow the placard on the kiosk that points toward Round Lake. The trail winds toward the highway, then crosses it before the hike really gets started.


The wide dirt trail spirals up with slight elevation gain from the highway before reaching a fork about a half-mile into the hike. Head right while following the trail marker toward Meiss Meadow and shortly after, the trail will open up and head into Big Meadow.


Cross the small bridge to arrive into Big Meadow, and appreciate its vast openness while hiking through tall grass on the thin dirt trail set right in the middle. Trees unfold in the distance on the right while steeper terrain overlooks the meadow on the left.


Once across Big Meadow, it’s back to a covered trail that starts just more than three-quarters of a mile into the hike. A steady, uphill climb ensues for about a mile — including a steep stretch lined with wooden steps — before reaching a peak.


As the trail heads down, don’t think about the steep hike on the way back. At the two-mile mark, there’s a trail marker — head straight left and follow the arrow to Round Lake for the last stretch of the hike, which features rolling singletrack until the destination.


After 2.6 miles, Round Lake comes into view — and offers plenty of shoreline for exploring. Taking the trail right upon arrival presents panoramic views before heading down to shore opposite the tall, granite face that stands tall over the lake. Hanging a left leads lower along the shore and passes by a pair of giant rocks.

Great scenery is all around at Round Lake, as are a number of campsites during the summer. Take a dip and take in the views in water that features greens and deep blues.


Above hike was 5.2 miles out and back, can be completed in two to three hours — not including time at the Lake. Trail is singletrack that widens in some areas, and is covered for most of the hike. Other lakes off this portion of Tahoe Rim Trail include Dardanelles Lake and Scotts Lake.

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