Trail Running in Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe Trail Running
December 10, 2020
Trail running in Lake Tahoe is hard to beat and a great way to cover a lot of ground. Another thing it’s good for, training at higher altitudes. So next time you’re running down low you’ll feel like you’ve got lungs with endless capacity!
You’ll have the chance to cover a wide array of environments including, expansive ridge-lines, thick forested single track, serene summits and of course, views of the majestic Lake Tahoe. So strap on those running shoes and tackle some classic trails recommended by local trail runners!
Sugar Bowl to Squaw Valley
Classic for many reasons, this 14-15 mile trail run from Sugar Bowl ski resort to Squaw Valley takes you along a portion of the famed Pacific Crest Trail. Gaining 1,600 feet in the first 8 miles you’ll get your heart rate up in a hurry. Once you get your rhythm you’ll start to enjoy the lichen covered trees, lupin flower fields and frequent mountain meadows. A good route for people looking to cover more distance, this Truckee classic is one to come back to time and time again.
Mt. Judah Loop Trail
This 5 mile loop on the peaks high above the town of Truckee boasts great views, moderate elevation gain and a dog friendly option for those bringing their furry friends. This trail is great for an after work jaunt in the summer and you’ll be rewarded with great views of Donner Lake. Beware that in the Fall and Spring this trail can still be covered in snow, making a moderate run a bit more treacherous.
North Lake Tahoe
Tahoe Rim Trail
A 169 mile loop that circles Lake Tahoe, this is probably the most well-known trail in the area. Don’t be put off by the length as most people choose to do sections of the trail – and it can be a fun summer project tick off one at a time in order to complete the whole thing! With sweeping views of Lake Tahoe for much of the trail it doesn’t really get more “Tahoe” than this. Be aware that some sections are open to mountain bikers, while others are only for foot traffic.
Topping out at an elevation of 9100’, this can be another lung buster of a run. While this outing is considered moderate overall you will come across steep rocky sections, keeping your speed in check as you ascend. Castle peak is a prominent feature as you approach Truckee/Tahoe from Interstate 80 and its mass and beauty reflects a castle in the mountains.
South Lake Tahoe
Echo Lakes Trail
Its good to get to this trailhead early as it can be busy throughout the day and parking can be tricky – and for good reason. Amazing views, alpine lakes and moderate terrain make this 5.3 out and back trail perfect for a quick trail run. More cross-country in nature, with minimal elevation gain, you’ll still come across technical sections as you go. If you’re in South Lake Tahoe and looking for a trail run for people at all levels, this is a great starting place.
Starting from Spooner Lake on the South end of Lake Tahoe, this trail run is not only beautiful but allows you to add distance on classic extensions such as the Flume trails and Tahoe Rim Trail if desired. You’ll cover a little over 10 miles and 1700’ of elevation gain as you pass through an alpine dream. Be prepared for crowds on weekends as this can be a hotspot for families, bikers, hikers and beyond.
Along the Shore – West and East
This trail gets our vote for the most beautiful trail in Tahoe Basin! I know, that’s a big statement, but the ground you cover during this 12 mile out and back trail run is hard to beat anywhere in the US. Passing by iconic locations such as Emerald bay and Vikingsholm, you’ll wind in and out of the forest and right along the shore of Lake Tahoe. If you only have time for one trail run while in the Tahoe basin – put this at the top of the list.
Incline Village Joggers Trail
While not technically a trail run, as this trail is paved, you will still be rewarded with lakeside views the entire time. Three miles each way, this newly finished trail offers runners, bikers, and walkers a nice option with easy access and it’s our vote for most family friendly. Enjoy!