Best Lake Tahoe Hikes with Kids

Lake Tahoe view from Rubicon Trail in DL Bliss State Park

Hiking is a wonderful all-family activity. When kids are very young and can fit in a backpack, any hike is fair game as long as you pack food and don’t overestimate your endurance to carry the extra pounds. When kids start walking, selecting kid-friendly hikes is essential, although it’s amazing how far motivated school-age kids can go.

I’ll never forget the Dutch family we ran into in Banff National Park a few years ago with 5-year-old twin boys who were hiking the same 6-mile-loop we were with some serious vertical. We were winded and quite surprised to find happy little boys hanging out at the top of the trail. Clearly, hikes like this were business as usual for this family. Mind over matter in action.

Waterslide fun at Resort at Squaw Creek

Lake Tahoe is one of my all-time favorite summer destinations with kids. The Resort at Squaw Creek makes a great home-base for families visiting this area this time of year. Although Squaw Valley is a 15-minute drive from the lake, the setting is spectacular. Condo-style rooms have kitchenette facilities and comfortable living space. The highlight for kids is the pool with a waterslide that entertains for hours. Babies and toddlers have their own kiddie pool and sandbox. Hiking, golf, tennis, horseback riding, and biking are all accessible without getting in your car. There are a few onsite dining options and a spa, plus the Mountain Buddies kids club is available for ages 4-12. This property is a great choice for families that want a complete resort experience.

Over our recent stay, I chatted with the Marketing/PR Manager, Marc Sapoznik, about his recommendations for kid-friendly hikes in the area.  He put together a great list of options. Thanks Marc!

Best Kid-Friendly Lake Tahoe Trails

Tahoe Meadows Whole Access Trail on Mt. Rose Highway

The Tahoe Meadows Whole Access Trail is a wheelchair-accessible trail providing a fine opportunity to experience a part of verdant, subalpine Tahoe Meadows. Not only will the wheelchair-bound enjoy this loop, but families with small children will appreciate the wide, gently graded, 1.3-mile long path as well. The trail loops around the northeast finger of 8700-foot Tahoe Meadows, exposing hikers to a lush meadowland environment full of plants, wildflowers, and trickling streams, bordered by a light forest of lodgepole pines. Slide Mountain and Mt. Rose provide a fine backdrop to the scenery-rich meadows. Snow usually clears out of Tahoe Meadows by the end of June, allowing vivid wildflower displays from mid-July through August. Without the flowers, the hiking season still continues until the first significant snowfall, usually in early November.

Recommended for all ages.

Eagle Lake

The Eagle Lake Trail is one of the most popular at Lake Tahoe. It has everything: stunning lake views, waterfalls, river, a bridge, a climb, spectacular forest and mountain views, and a gem of a lake at the end of the trail. Because this trail does have a vertical climb to it, younger children are not recommended. During summer, you will definitely find other people on the trail. Pack a lunch, there is definitely room to spread out out at the lake and this is a wonderful place to relax for a few or more hours.

Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Spooner Lake Loop

A scenic 2-mile loop around Spooner Lake offers a relatively level trail with enough diversity to keep kids entertained. The west and south shore portions of the trail takes hikers through pines and aspens (a shady relief during warm summer days). Fishermen often dot the edges of the lake, sometimes floating in inflatable boats. Several places along the lake shore are suitable for a picnic or rest stop. Keep in mind, at the beginning or end of the hike there is a nice picnic area with tables, grills and restrooms. You’ll also find many mountain bikers heading up the nearby Marlette Lake Trail to tackle the famous Flume Trail (but they will not be riding the loop trail).

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Taylor Creek Rainbow Trail and Stream Profile Chamber

This leisurely 1-mile loop meanders through meadow and marsh areas, with pines and aspens along the route. A portion of this trail runs adjacent to Taylor Creek and offers the unique stream profile chamber. Kids love the chamber, which offers an “underwater” view through a glass window of the river replete with trout and Kokanee salmon. Other “educational” fun spots are offered along the trail. Bald eagles sometimes frequent the area. During fall, the Kokanee salmon return to the river to spawn, turn the clear waters to a sea of red hues. It’s a sight to behold. With the aspens in the area, autumn is a great time to enjoy fall colors too. After your hike head to nearby Kiva Beach or the historic Valhalla area for a picnic on the beach. Note: the stream profile chamber is only open during the summer months.

Recommended for all ages.

Shirley Canyon in Squaw Valley

Shirley Canyon

You don’t need to go far up the trail to feel like you are a world away from the Squaw Valley ski area in Shirley Canyon. There are wonderful swimming holes for older kids and big boulders to climb. Note that there are steep sections higher up that aren’t kid-appropriate, but lower down the creek, when it’s flowing, is perfect for a family excursion (young kids need constant supervision here).

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Rubicon Trail in DL Bliss State Park

The Rubicon Trail hugs one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in all of Lake Tahoe. You can park at Calawee Cove Beach in DL Bliss State Park (a fantastic sandy beach) and walk down a moderately graded trail with incredible views of the water and mountain scenery. You can walk all the way to Emerald Bay from here which is too long for young kids, but a timed jaunt down the trail and back to the beach will be fun for all. Note that there are very steep drops on this trail; there are safety ropes but this is not a good place for toddlers.

Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Angora Lakes

You reach Angora Lakes via a short trail, just .5 miles. This is one of the region’s best swimming lakes and the drive into this area is scenic as well.

Recommended for all ages.

Relevant Links:

Favorite kid-friendly things to do in Lake Tahoe

Best family-friendly places to stay in Lake Tahoe

Pssst … Our favorite home rental agency in Tahoe


  1. All great tips. I love the squaw hike and the waterfalls on the way to Shirley Lake. Actually just did it less than two weeks ago. I run a summer day camp here in Tahoe for families on vacation and one of the things the kids have been loving is Stand Up Paddle Boarding. It looks like a big surf board and is very easy to learn. I would definitely recommend trying it out.

  2. Our favorite hike is the stateline lookout on the Nevada California border between Kings Beach and Incline Village. It is a steep hike for kids (our 3/4 year old could do it no problem), but pretty short and paved, so you can take a stroller up. They also allow dogs. The view of the lake from the top are amazing!

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