Hike Date: March 7, 2014
Distance: ~ 2 miles
Trail(s): Bay Ridge Trail, Cascade Falls Trail
Where’s it at? Western South Lake Tahoe near Inspiration Point


Cascade Falls is a cascading waterfall, as its name suggests, located near the southwestern shore of Lake Tahoe. The 200 foot tall waterfall spills into beautiful Cascade Lake at an elevation of about 6,800 feet. It is located on the very eastern end of the El Dorado National Forest and run by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Hikers do not need a wilerness permit and the parking is free, however if you venture into Desolation Wilderness from this same trailhead you *do* need a wilderness permit. The waterfall is only a trickle in late summer and I suspect it freezes over in winter. The best time to visit would be during spring. On this very dry year of 2014, we were able to easily hike here in late winter but I’d imagine it would be dangerous at this time of year during a normal season of snowfall. Cascade Lake entirely freezes over sometimes during the winter.

This is a really short and easy hike with minimal elevation gain. The only challenge are a few areas of rocks and potentially slippery-when-wet areas of flat granite. When we visited there was a little snow left but none of it was on these southern-facing parts of the trail. The hike is really very scenic with good views of Cascade Falls as you approach, a complete overhead view of Cascade Lake and some nice views of Lake Tahoe. Near the trailhead is Inspiration Point which is worth a quick visit for its views of Emerald Bay and Vikingsholm. If you’re in this area and looking for longer hikes Eagle Falls is just a little further north on Hwy 89.

There are great areas to relax and have a lunch or snack at the top of the falls where you can perch on any of many flat granite rocks. This hike takes you to the top of the falls though you get some views of them head-on as you approach. We didn’t scramble down to the bottom though I’d imagine it’s possible to do so, but it might be dangerous as it’s a pretty steep area.

This hike it too short to achieve ‘epic’ in my book but I’m definitely glad to have added it to my experiences of hikes around Lake Tahoe. There are so many good ones up in this area!

Photos from Hiking to Cascade Falls (click to enlarge)

Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe
Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe
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Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe
Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe
Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe
Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe Hike to Cascade Falls in Lake Tahoe

Total distance: 3.03 km (1.9 mi)
Total time: 2:00:40
Moving time: 1:32:53
Max elevation: 2095 m (6872 ft)
Min elevation: 2046 m (6714 ft)
Max grade: 21 %
Min grade: -45 %

MyTracks for Hiking to Cascade Falls


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