Summiting Mount Tallac in Tahoe

Summit of Mount Tallac in Tahoe
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You can summit the biggest mountain by

simply taking the first step.

~Gail Lynne Goodwin~

Mount Tallac hiking trail

Round Trip Mileage~10.0 Miles
Elevation Gain 3,330 feet
Elevation at Summit9,735 feet
Average Time5 to 8 hours
DifficultyStrenuous
Rating5 Mooses
Entrance FeesWilderness Permit Required (free and available at the trail head)
Best Used May until October
Our Hike3 Hours 45 minutes to hike up and 2 Hours 30 minutes to hike back down.
Mount Tallac
View of Mt. Tallac from the trail head

Know before you go

Mt Tallac Trailhead sign
Trail head Map

Trail Quality

Early views of Lake Tahoe

The first few miles of the Mt. Tallac trail start out gently through lush forest and tantalizing views of Lake Tahoe from the lower elevation. The trail is extremely well marked and easy to traverse.

Cathedral Lake is what I consider the last of the “easy” parts of this trail. After passing Cathedral lake you reach the bottom of the real push to the summit of Tallac.

Cathedral Lake in California
Cathedral Lake

You can see the beginning of the type of terrain the trail turns into. Large swaths of fully exposed rock fields that turn into a long upward slog to reach the summit.

Water on Mt Tallac Trail

After you pass through the exposed rock field and make it up to the back side of Tallac, you’ll think you’ve made it. “False” summits is probably the most frustrating thing of hiking. The good news is that on Tallac, once you’ve conquered the rock fields, you’ve done the tough work. You’re rewarded with a meandering (and far easier) final push to the summit through some lush meadows.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be greeted with some wild pheasants to help you on your way.

Pheasant crossing Mt Tallac Trail
Pheasant crossing on Mt. Tallac

Supplies

Be sure to pack the ten essentials of hiking whenever you venture out into the wilderness.

The day we hiked, we saw a gal casually walking up the trail with a Starbucks coffee in her hand, inappropriate footwear and no water or snacks in sight. She clearly had no pockets with a secret stash of supplies.

Blue Wildflowers
Wildflowers on the trail

That might be ok for a casual short hike, but on a 10 mile high elevation hike, extra water, food and supplies is the right way to go.

You’ll also save yourself from being that couple that decided it was time to turn around after attempting to cross the final uphill boulder field in the relenting sun with no shade in sight. Sadly, they turned around right before the lush meadows on the ridge line. They were tantalizingly close.

Critters

Keeps your eyes out all along the trail for various critters. We saw marmots (they were quite camera shy), squirrels, birds, and of course pheasants.

Brown Squirrel with black and white strip
Squirrel climbing a tree
Squirrel frolicking on Mt. Tallac

Views from the Summit

After a long hike, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. Enjoy a full 360 degree view of mountains, lakes and the vast wilderness in the valleys below.

Lake Tahoe from Mt Tallac Summit
View of Lake Tahoe from Mt. Tallac Summit

Be sure to check the weather before you head out. You’ll want a nice crisp clear day before tackling the summit.

South east view from Mt Tallac Summit
View overlooking the valley to the south east
View from Mt Tallac
Southern view from Mt. Tallac Summit

Visit or stay home?

Rating: 5 Mooses

This 10 mile round trip hike is worth the 3,300+ feet in elevation it takes to summit this magnificent mountain. The exertion is worth the sweeping panoramic views, stunning plant life and abundance of cute little critters greeting you every step of the way.

Verdict: Visit

We’ll be back one day to conquer Mt. Tallac again.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve been or want to add it to your Tahoe bucket list!

The information contained on this website is for entertainment purposes only and references only opinions of the author. Nothing contained within should be considered professional advice, including but not limited to, health, safety, financial, legal, or psychological advice.

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