Tahoe’s Rubicon Trail might sound familiar to you as it has become a very popular destination for hikers in NorCal. And rightfully so, as you can experience a beautiful trail along the west side of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, the highest elevation lighthouse in the U.S. and a giant waterfall.
While the actual trail is 22 miles long, the hike is a little over 8 miles. Much of the trail is used for 4X4 vehicles and has been used as a background by big car manufacturers for commercials.
The Rubicon covers a lot of terrain. There are flats, short elevation gains and drops, and twists along some stunning shoreline cliffs. The trail dips into secluded coves, and along easily accessible shorelines in Emerald Bay. At both the beginning of the trail and end are a campgrounds, also along the south shore of Emerald Bay, you can find active nesting area for Eagles.
D.L. Bliss State Park
Named in honor of timber and railroad magnate Duane Leroy Bliss, D.L. Bliss State Park is located on the west shore of Lake Tahoe and includes features such as the balancing rock and the Rubicon Point Light, the highest elevated lighthouse in America.
The Rubicon Point Light was built by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1916 but only lit the lake for around 3-7 years, with the Sugar Point Pine Light quickly taking its place. Many sight its expensive maintenance as the reason for its quick demise. It’s small and deteriorated, leaving many visitors to mistake it for an outhouse. It still stands as the lighthouse at the highest elevation in America, sitting at 6,300 feet above sea level.
The Balancing Rock has long been a natural attraction on Lake Tahoe’s western shore. Visitors to the Lake Tahoe area in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s enjoyed being photographed next to this geological marvel.
Today, the Balancing Rock is the feature attraction of a short, half mile self-guided nature trail in the northwest section of D.L. Bliss State Park. The granite of this large rock began weathering more rapidly at the joint plane, an extensive horizontal crack that is easily seen at its “waist”. The overlying rock weighs around 130 tons and is now balanced on the rock below.
Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park contains unbelievable views of Lake Tahoe to go along with a giant waterfall, a historic 38-room mansion and a secluded island with a historic “tea house.”
Emerald Bay is a National Natural Landmark, and when you see it in person you’ll know why. This area provides one of the most gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe and is a very popular destination for tourists.
Eagle Falls is a year-round waterfall that is only about a 2-mile round trip excursion from the highway. Once you reach the top of the falls, you’ll get an amazing view of the lake and Emerald Bay.
The Vikingsholm Castle was built in 1929 by Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight as a summer home. She also constructed a “tea house” on the island in Emerald Bay (the only island on Lake Tahoe). You can tour the Vikingsholm mansion for a small fee or you can go explore the tea house if you have a boat or kayak.
There aren’t many NorCal hikes that rival the history and beauty of Tahoe’s Rubicon Trail. Have fun on your adventure!