I recently took my 3-year-old on his first real hike. A quick trip to Lake Tahoe and we did the short hike to Eagle Lake via the Eagle Falls trail head near Emerald Bay. The trail is out and back and about 2miles total with an elevation gain of several hundred feet with a slight decent into the lake. This trail is really easy to do and has pretty heavy traffic, so watch out for kids running up and down the trail without too much regard for manners.
The 1st half of the trail is a somewhat steep ascent via stone steps to a bridge that crosses Eagle Falls and a vista point of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. From there it is a nice gentle ascent through the woods alongside the creek from Eagle Lake to Eagle Falls with some views of the creek along the way. When you finally get to the lake it is a beautiful place to take in a picnic, depending on how busy they are it may be difficult to find a spot, especially if school hasn't started yet. And if you don't mind chilly waters the lake has been untouched by any boat motors and is very nice and clear. The hike back is pretty easy and the total trip time if you pace yourself to take in some nature and enjoy some lunch at the lake is about a couple hours.
The parking fee is $5.00 and an early start is recommended. Since the elevation is about 6,500 ft sunblock is definitely recommended as is bug spray if you are popular with the mosquitoes.
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Alan Saastad (imahsome)
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The Eagle Falls Trailhead or Eagle Lake Trailhead is located on HWY 89 a few miles north of South Lake Tahoe, CA at Emerald Bay State Park on the western shore of Lake Tahoe.
Some of the destinations most accessed by the trailhead are Eagle Lake as well as the Velma Lakes and the rest of the Desolation Wilderness. This trailhead provides great winter access to the wilderness.