As summer comes to an end, now is a great time to explore and hike in the Tahoe basin area before the cold weather arrives. With the huge snowfalls from last winter, there are still plenty of waterfalls, lakes, and streams to enjoy on the many of the hikes in Tahoe. A truly budget travel experience, hiking in Tahoe allows you to get outside, enjoy some natural beauty, and get some exercise with some of the best scenery in northern California.
Round Top – a fun hike near Lake Tahoe
There are more than a hundred hikes in the Tahoe area ranging from easy to strenuous. Get our for a quick hike to many places for 2 miles round trip and enjoy one of the many lakes in the Tahoe area. Hike to the peaks in Tahoe on some long, strenuous hikes and be rewarded with some of the most beautiful views in northern California.
One moderate to strenuous hike includes one of the tallest peaks in the Tahoe basin area – Round Top. At its peak, it is 10,381 feet high and gives you spectacular views of Lake Tahoe, Woods Lake, Round Top Lake, and amazing scenery. The 4.4 mile loop from Winnemuca lake to Round Top lake offers some amazing wildlife, beautiful lakes, and some elevation change. However, adding another 2 miles to the top of Round Top leads to one of the best views in the Tahoe Sierras.
To get there, take Highway 88 towards Carson Pass. From the east or west, look for the turn off to Woods Lake and follow it down the dirt road and park at the campsite area for $5. From there, you can take the 4.4 mile loop by choosing the Winnemuca Lake trail or the Round Top Lake trail.
Both hikes are considered moderate with some elevation change. Winnemuca Lake trail is more open and gradual while the Round Top Lake trail has a little more elevation climb. Winnemuca Lake trail takes you on a 2.2 mile hike through some wildflowers leading you to WInnemuca Lake and spectacular views of Elephants Back and Round Top.
From there, you can continue your ascent as you make your way closer to Round Top. If you choose not to take the 2 mile climb to the peak of Round Top (a strenuous hike and one of the more difficult ones in the area), you can continue on to Round Top Lake with its turquoise blue water and spectacular location among the walls of the Sierras. Finish the loop with 2.2 mile descent into the forest back to the campsite near Woods Lake.
If you choose to hike to the top of Round Top, note that this is considered a strenuous 2 mile hike with steep elevation climbs and loose gravel. If you don’t want to ascend to the peak, there are great views from the saddle – an opening between Round Top and the Three Sisters. Note that the area up there is windy and sunglasses, a hat, a jacket, and sunscreen are needed.
At 10,381 feet, Round Top is the third tallest peak in the area. From the top or the saddle, you can get great views on the east and west side. See Lake Tahoe, Round Top Lake, Woods Lake, and numerous other peaks in the area. While it’s a lot of work to get there, it’s worth the effort for experienced hikers to get one of the best views in Tahoe.
Fall is a great time to hike or enjoy some great getaways in northern California. The hike to round Top costs time and energy but only gas and $5 to park. To enjoy more of Tahoe, check out the Tahoe Visitor’s Center and Baldwin Beach. Check out more northern California getaways.
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Lake Tahoe’s Baldwin Beach (photos)
A travel guide for Muir Woods National Monument
Fall colors in northern California – Hope Valley
Exploring San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park
Apple Hill tips and travel guide for Fall and Halloween
Great trips for Fall getaways in northern California