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Rubicon Trail Out and Back

 15 votes


12.3 Miles 19.8 Kilometers


1,215' 370 m


-1,214' -370 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (11°)

6,624' 2,019 m


6,240' 1,902 m



All Clear 3 days ago
Muddy, Snowy - Snow is nearly gone from Bliss to Vikingsholm. Some wet and muddy spots, but good to go. History

Getting forecast...

A stunning trail clinging along the edge of Lake Tahoe's cliffs and secluded coves.

Nick Wilder


Don't let the length turn you off - you can turn around at any point and have a stellar hike on this lovely trail. Visitors also have the option to do a shuttle if you can find someone to move your car, or if you decide to take two vehicles. The section near the start at DL Bliss State Park is the most popular, and can be crowded, but it is quite spectacular. Parking can be exceedingly problematic at both ends. Start early, and on weekends be prepared to park a long way from the marked trail ends.
Features: Lake — Swimming — Views
Family Friendly: Make this hike as long or as short of an out-and-back as the kids would like and finish up with a trip to the beach!
Dogs: No Dogs


Starting at DL Bliss State Park right off the very inviting beach (plan to swim upon your return!), the trail goes up and down over high rocky cliffs with big drops to the impossibly blue water far below. You'll pass the ruins of a 100-year old lighthouse and navigate short sections of trail that are carved right out of the cliff. Some sections have chain links you can hold on to, but most people won't need them.

Most people turn around after 1 or 2 miles, but the beauty continues. The trail will dip down to lake level, and occasionally head into the forest (off the lake), but the scenery remains gorgeous all the way to Emerald Bay. You'll look out at Fanette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe, where there are ruins of a teahouse that was a plaything for the children of the owners of Vikingsholm.

Vikingsholm is the next logical turnaround point (or hike up to the road if doing this one-way), though the trail continues on to the campground on the far side of the bay. This section of trail is also nice, but mostly used by campers making their way to Vikingsholm.

History & Background

Vikingsholm is the huge mansion that you'll see just at the head of Emerald Bay. Built in 1928 and modeled after Scandinavian architecture, the house is now a on the National Historic Register and is part of Emerald Bay State Park.


Land Manager: California State Parks

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Apr 10, 2018
Dylan Taylor
Started from Vikingsholm in overcast conditions, hiked in solitude up to the switchbacks. Beautiful, intimate, and iconic views of Lake Tahoe. 7.2mi — 2h 03m
Nov 25, 2017
Christopher Harris
Nov 18, 2017
Tilman Giese
Oct 7, 2017
Tina Velcich
Sep 23, 2017
Rob Culin
Sep 11, 2017
Kevin P
Beautiful trail with stunning views of Emerald Bay. We took our time as it was our first hike in Tahoe. 4.5mi
Aug 31, 2017
Beth N
Aug 17, 2017
Claire Hiles

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 15 votes


  4.6 from 15 votes
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