Rubicon Trail to Emerald Bay and Eagle Lake

There are two Rubicon trails in Tahoe.  One is a 4×4 trail and another is a hiking trail.  I was fortunate to be able to going jeeping with friends the last time I lived in the area on the 4×4 Rubicon.  The hiking trail is my favorite in Tahoe.  It has stunning views of the lake, and today was such a gorgeous day to do it.

The Rubicon starts at D.L. Bliss State Park, but you can also hike in the other way from Emerald Bay.  I decided to extend my hike from the Rubicon and then over to the trail to Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake.

In the off-season there is a gate blocking entry to D.L. Bliss, so you have to park and walk about a mile or so down the road.

Sections are:

  • D.L Bliss parking lot at gate to Rubicon Trailhead – about 1 mile.
  • Rubicon Trail to Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay – 3.6 miles
  • Vikingsholm to Emerald Bay Parking lot – 1 mile
  • Across the street from the Emerald Bay parking lot is the parking for Eagle Lake – 2 miles to Eagle Lake

I did this round-trip, so it was a good 14-15 mile day.  I honestly think this is the longest hike I’ve ever done by myself!  I have to start somewhere, right?  I’ve done the Rubicon many times alone, but haven’t ever linked it with Eagle Lake.

I think it would be fun to do this hike and then rent a kayak (only available summer season) and kayak to the island and tea house at Emerald Bay, hang out on the beach and swim for a bit, and then hike back.

This hike, I could go on about how amazing it is all day.  This time of year especially, because I only passed a handful of people of the Rubicon section.  I love the blue and green hues of the water, the clarity of the water, the expansiveness of the lake, the aroma of the pines (Tahoe smells so darn good!), and the cute Hairy Woodpeckers and blue Stellar’s Jays, among many other things.  However, I think I’d better let the pictures do the talking.

Mt. Judah

This loop trail is about 4.5 miles and covers ground at what is Sugarbowl Ski Resort in the winter.  I thought about posting this after well, first, remembering that I’d never posted it!  I can’t believe I didn’t, I loved this hike.  I also thought about posting it after hearing that Sugarbowl is closing early this weekend due to lack of snow, I’m sadly reading about resorts closing every week (don’t get me wrong, I love warm hiking weather, but I was hoping for a good winter of snowboarding before moving to the tropics).  Anyway, enough sadness, I thought I’d share how interesting Sugarbowl is in the summer.  From snowy peaks it turns into more of a moonscape, to me most reminiscent of a neighbor hike to Castle Peak.  These hikes mentioned usually can’t be hiked until July, but maybe this they can be hiked earlier this year.

USA, Nevada/California Border: Stateline Fire Lookout at Sunset

Dan and I loved this hike so much that we went back the next evening for a sunset dinner. We were able to test out some a new backpacking stove and had some chili we made at home from scratch.

The lake this evening was different. Instead of bright blue, it was much darker with the sun lower in the sky, and with more reflective colors of the sky, sun, and clouds. The wind less prominent, just barely blowing on the surface, giving the surface a very smooth texture. We watched the sky change colors, and I didn’t capture but as were leaving there was hot pink streaks against a still vivid blue lake and mountains. I’m always obsessed with the blueness of it all at Tahoe.

Just getting outside and grilling or having a meal, even when you don’t have time to go camping or backpacking (especially when you can take delicious hearty meals, which you can’t always bring backpacking), those are some of my best memories. More than one sense is being heightened: vision, smell, and taste. My favorite time eating out in Hawaii wasn’t going to a restaurant, but grilling by the beach at sunset out in the open.

Today the weather turned gloomy and cold again. Quite happy we could take advantage of the sunset before today’s storm. I guess to say taking advantage of the impermanence of life, as the weather might not be that warm again until after we move away in April.

Chimney Beach

As of right now, the end of January 2015, we are having a mighty dry winter in Tahoe.  Within a drive of 20-minute drive from my town of Truckee there are more than four ski resorts, all of which are surviving on man-made snow-ice.  I literally have not seen a snowflake in one month. It’s quite odd when you move to a ski town for skiing/snowboarding and there’s no snow. Tahoe has a rough last three winters, however, and it’s hard to expect a quick turnaround from a drought. The last winter I was here was in 2010-2011, and it was epic.

This realization of snowlessness has gotten me thinking about summer lately, especially the beach.  The beaches are empty right now sans snow, but the temperatures are a bit too cold.  I miss soaking up the sunshine at Tahoe’s beaches and hanging out at the docks at Donner Lake. This a throwback to some of my favorite photos from the summer at Chimney Beach. Chimney Beach is about a 2-mile round-trip hike on Tahoe’s East Shore. It has its name from a chimney that is still standing on the beach. It’s secluded and the colors of the water are gorgeous. The clarity of the lake is shocking, as much so as a first dunk into it, because it’s also frigid.  I miss swimming in cold blue Tahoe, and now that I’m moving abroad in April, the last swim I took might be my last.  It makes me realize how important it is to appreciate when you’re somewhere amazing, because who knows if it’s the last time, or the only time you’ll ever be there.

Maybe I’ll just have to jump into Lake Tahoe one last time, regardless of temperature.

Hike to Granite Lake and Maggie’s Peak in Desolation Wilderness

Catching up on things I’ve missed blogging from the summer.  This is a hike we did in August.  The Trailhead to reach Maggie’s Peak and other destinations in Desolation Wildnerness begins at a parking lot across from Emerald Bay near South Lake Tahoe.  The parking lot is at the end of Bayview Trailhead Campground.  There is a Traihead board where you fill out information for a day hiking permit.  This hike is about 4 miles round-trip.  Granite Lake is on the way after the viewpoint of Emerald Bay.  This hike was surprisingly strenuous on the way up; it’s quite a steep elevation gain.  It was hot, so lucky for Dan and I we came prepared with our swimsuits and took a dip in the alpine lake.  We had fun diving and jumping off a fallen tree trunk in the lake.

Getting to Maggie’s Peak is a bit confusing.  There are actually two Maggies’ Peaks, neither of which have a formal trailhead, at least that I’ve read or saw while there.  We stopped our hike at the saddle because we had to head back for an appointment in South Lake, but the views from there were plenty breathtaking.  After going to South we circumnavigated the lake by driving up the East Shore (Nevada side) and stopping at Nevada Beach, one of my favorite Tahoe beaches.  We also had some Tahoe Blue lemonade cocktails at the end of the day to cap it all off.

The Narrows in Zion National Park

Growing up we had a framed painting on the wall that said “The Narrows,” representing the canyon in Zion National Park.  It’s still on that wall in the same house, and I always wondered what the Narrows was like.  This was my first time at the Narrows, and we found out quickly that it’s a popular spot.  We walked along a path along the Virgin River until it ends, and the hike in the Narrows is in the water.  The squirrels on the path were quite friendly, I’m assuming they are accustomed to people on the path, because they are often fed or find dropped food.  We watched as a squirrel ran right by our feet with a full-size chocolate bar in its mouth!


Onlookers gather as people rappel down the waterfall.
Onlookers gather as people rappel down the waterfall.