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greenBlue Rubicon Trail Out and Back

  4.7 ( 26 ) Favorite


12.3 mile 19.8 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 1,215' 370 m
Descent: -1,214' -370 m
High: 6,624' 2,019 m
Low: 6,240' 1,902 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Nick Wilder

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

Nick Wilder

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!


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.


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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Jun 8, 2019
Brittany Hite
Beautiful! 10.3mi — 4h 05m
Oct 27, 2018
Kari Strebig
Oct 13, 2018
Kathy Williams
Oct 8, 2018
Christopher Barnickel
Sep 15, 2018
Bec Osborne
Sep 10, 2018
mike r
Super easy and flat until you get near the cove. Potable water at Vikingsholm 8mi
Sep 4, 2018
Alvin Wong
Sep 2, 2018
Thanos Margaritis
with Nour 12.3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 26 votes


  4.7 from 26 votes
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