Just a short drive from beautiful Emerald Bay…
on the west side of Lake Tahoe, is Cascade Lake. The lake itself is hidden away in a little valley just west of Tahoe and the hiking paths around the lake provide incredible views of both Lake Tahoe and the mountainous country around it. The wonderful thing about the Cascade Falls trail is that after a very established trail heads up to the granite stones around the falls, the trail ends; leaving you to decide where to explore and what to see. The falls themselves are not, perhaps what many would think of as a waterfall, but rather at large granite face of rock over which water from higher in the mountains flows and several small, serene mountain streams.
The trail is fairly popular in the summer months because of its relative ease and beautiful views, but you can easily find ways away from the people to more isolated ponds and quiet streams with large stones surrounding them which are perfect for picnics. The further up the slope you wander, the fewer people you will encounter and the more perfectly serene and beautiful places you can find. The higher on the granite slope you climb, the better the view of Tahoe and Cascade Lake, do be careful though to always keep yourself close to the water so you can find your way back, remember there are no established trails further up.
What to Bring
Always remember that in the mountains any hike can turn dangerous very quickly, therefore bring necessary provisions with you such as a small amount of trail food and at least 2 liters of water per person. In the summer Months the slopes here are rather exposed, although there is plenty of tree cover at the beginning and further up the slope. Bring appropriate clothing for whichever time of year you are planning on your hike here like Hats, Sunglasses, and sunscreen. Hiking poles are helpful but not strictly necessary, it is a short hike after all.
The parking lot is fairly sizable but in popular months could fill very quickly. If you chose to park somewhere else, be aware that the roads around Emerald bay are very narrow and curvy, walking to the trailhead from another location is seriously dangerous so have a back up plan if you cant get a spot. The parking lot is very often in summer, full of wasps. Be aware and try to have your food and sweets pre-packed in your bag before you leave the car because let me tell you, they will follow you.
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