Recently, while visiting Lake Tahoe, I turned 50 years old. My children don’t believe it and opine that I was around when the Tahoe Basin was carved out by glaciers. Anyway, I really wanted to hike the Rubicon Trail for my birthday and approached my beautiful wife with the idea. After thinking about it for half a nanosecond or so and having the enthusiasm of someone forced to spend the entire day at the DMV, she reluctantly acquiesced, deciding that I needed supervision after the Eagle Lake episode.
The 6.6 mile trail starts at Vikingsholm Castle at the tip of Emerald Bay and ends at DL Bliss State Park. The trail runs right along the shoreline or within view of Lake Tahoe almost its entire distance. The walk took us three hours from 0840 to 1140 and according to my beautiful chaperone, was one of the most beautiful hikes she has ever been on. For comparison purposes, I have dragged her through Yosemite Valley and the Bavarian Alps and this walk was one of her favorites.
It is hard to state the breathtaking beauty of this walk and pictures cannot do it justice. In my opinion, the Rubicon is one of the best hiking trails in Lake Tahoe. It is a moderate, mostly flat hike with some gradual grades. The steepest part of the trek is the first mile down from the parking lot to Vikingsholm Castle. I recommend leaving a car at DL Bliss State Park and then, parking a second car, starting your journey from The Vikingsholm/Eagle Falls parking lot. This way, your steepest grade is downhill.
We traveled on August 15th and the weather was perfect although by the end of the hike we were very warm. We each used about a quart of water. I cannot overstate the importance of getting here as early as possible. After 9:00 AM, the parking lots are full and the highway is jammed. It cost $10.00 to park in each parking lot but it was well worth it. At the end of the journey, there were flush toilets and sinks at the DL Bliss Parking lot instead of the plastic porta-potties at the Eagle Falls parking lot. There are vault toilets at Vikingsholm Castle which is very much worth the extra time to see when you visit Lake Tahoe.
The trail itself was dusty but unforgettable. Remember to stop frequently and just soak in the breathtaking views. Much of the hike is in the shade or near the water so it keeps you cool. If you go, have been, or want to visit Lake Tahoe, I would love your perspective and input. Happy trails!
Here is a one-page trail map you can print and take with you: http://www.tahoeadventuresports.com/hikeindex/west/rubiconmapandprofile.htm