Hiking to Tahoe Rim Trail is a dream for most hikers– it’s an experience that’s worth training for. In order to make this kind of hike, you need to have nature experience and knowledge about the local terrain and wildlife, not to mention, that you need to be in excellent physical shape.

The Tahoe Rim Trail is 173.6 miles long and has an elevation gain of 28,052.8 feet. The hike typically takes 10-15 days– what an extraordinary experience! The Tahoe Rim Trail is a loop: and along the way, there are no shelters, so prepare to carry your tent with you. Expect to travel with a whole lot of gear– you need to be trained for this mission.

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Sights To See Along The Way

The most important sight to see along the way is Lake Tahoe. This gorgeous lake is freshwater and is great for fishing. The Tahoe Rim Trail goes all the way around Lake Tahoe and can be best accessed during the part of the trail which goes by Tahoe City. Other views are wonderful meadows and valleys, with multiple spots on the trail where there is quite a climb.

Got lava? Many people may not realize that the Tahoe Trail is filled with lava rock formations. On many side trails and open slopes, there are cinder cones and ancient lava flows. There are views of the Lava Cliffs, and although the Lake Tahoe Basin is not considered to be currently active with volcanic activity– it is always a possibility.

The nature on the Tahoe rim trail is a sight to see. Open meadows, thick forests of fir, pine, and tobacco brush. As well as windswept fields filled with wildflowers are pleasant on the eyes– not to mention the natural smells of the forest.

Related: Here’s What It’s Like To Snorkel At Lake Tahoe (In Pictures)

Getting There

How do you get there? If you are flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport, you can take a shuttle or a bus to one of the nearby cities such as Tahoe City. From there, you will have to rideshare or hitch your way to the trail. If you have some extra cash, you can take a cab to one of the trailheads, or come in through a smaller airport such as Lake Tahoe Airport.

Taking a car isn't recommended because long-term parking is frowned upon, and if you live on the West Coast there’s a chance you could manage to take a train. The Kingsbury Grade/Heavenly Boulder Resort area is the only trailhead outside Tahoe City that can be accessed by public transportation.

A Brief Guide To Planning Your Trip

This site is a great way to plan your trip, but we will give you the highlights. Late June through mid-September is the best time to make this trek, but if there isn’t a lot of snow, and with the proper gear, you can start as early as May. As for the day of the week, try to avoid weekends as the trails can get very busy. No one is going to be on the trail on a Tuesday morning, so aim for a weekday to avoid the crowds.

Don’t forget your permits! You will need to call the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit within 21 days of your trip and ask for a TRT Thru-Hiker Permit. You will also need a campfire permit if you plan on cooking hot meals.

Forget the paper map. Bring on just in case, but most people use the Guthook app which has a health of information about camp locations, water availability, and so on.

You will need to be an experienced hiker to complete this journey. Make sure you pack everything you need and don’t make your pack too heavy because you will be hiking for a long, long time. As there are no shelters on the trail expect to make a campsite of your own on your journey. They follow a strict Leave No Trace principle, meaning leave the area just as you found it. There are some running streams where you can refill your water, but, beware, there is a long 37b mile stretch without any water so be prepared for it.

Reaching Civilization

The trail does go through Tahoe City, so if you need to refuel and replace used items you can go to a supermarket there. There is also a Safeway supermarket about a mile off the trail that is easily accessible. There are four other supermarkets that require a road walk, hitching a ride, or a prearranged ride to get to. But, if you are out of supplies, you may have no choice.

Well-Worth The Challenge

As you can see, the Tahoe Rim Trail is a challenging hike. You have to be very prepared, and if that app doesn't work you have to know how to read a map. You must know how to find clean water, know how to take care of a campsite, and know what to do in case of emergencies. However, it is well with all the trouble. The views are to die for, and the lakes and wildlife are what make the hike worthwhile. Be prepared, but remember to have fun and the rest will fall into place. All in all, the Tahoe Rim Trail may possibly be the best hike in the U.S.