Cascade Falls Trail Lake Tahoe

Hiking Cascade Falls Trail In South Lake Tahoe

Cascade Falls Trail is one of the most popular day hikes in South Lake Tahoe that leads to an epic viewpoint of Cascade Falls and the nearby Cascade Lake.

Cascade Falls trail is located near Emerald Bay State Park so many people visit Emerald Bay after completing this hike.

In this post, we cover Cascade Falls Trailhead location, where to park, trail length, time, and what to expect. Let’s dive in!

Scenic views along the Cascade Falls Trail

Cascade Falls Trail Distance

Cascade Falls Trail is a 1.4-mile-long out-and-back hike. The trail is easy to navigate and goes directly to Cascade Falls and then back.

Cascade Falls Trail Map

Cascade Falls trail mostly travels through a forest and ends at the Cascade Falls viewpoint where hikers can see the Cascade Creek soar down a tall cliff.

It took us around 2 hours to hike this entire trail but we kept stopping to take in the beautiful panoramic views of Cascade Lake, Emerald Bay, and Lake Tahoe during our hike.

Beautiful views of Cascade Lake

Cascade Falls Trail Difficulty

Cascade Falls Trail starts off easy through a gentle forest but then climbs gradually through a section that gains around 250 feet in elevation.

Much of the Cascade Falls trail follows along uneven surfaces and large granite rocks especially as it reaches closer to the top.

Cascade Falls trail isn’t too difficult or technical but the rocky sections of this hike do require extra caution. It might be a bit difficult for people with knee issues due to frequent climbing over large boulders and rocks.

Some sections of Cascade Falls Trail are steep and follow narrow ridges.

Cascade Falls Trail Is Dog Friendly

If you’re thinking about bringing your dog on the Cascade Falls trail, you’re in luck! Unlike Emerald Bay State Park across Highway 89 which does not allow dogs, Cascade Falls is located by Desolation Wilderness which is very dog friendly.

Cascade Falls trail follows along steep drop-offs, especially around the waterfall. If you bring your pup with you make sure to keep them closeby for the safety of your pet.

Cascade Falls Trailhead

Cascade Falls Hike starts from the Bayview Trailhead which is located at the end of Bayview Campground.

Bayview Trailhead sign

There is a small designated parking lot within Bayview Campground for day hikers but during our visit, it was closed. Instead, everyone parked along Highway 89 anywhere there was a semi-flat spot.

Parking along Highway 89

Inspiration Point, a popular viewpoint stop, is located right across Highway 89 so parking in this area fills up quickly. If you plan to hike Cascade Falls trail make sure to get here early to secure a parking spot.

We started the Cascade Falls hike at 8 a.m. and had no issues finding a spot. But by the time we finished the hike at around 10 am, more people were arriving and the area was getting crowded.  

What To Expect Along The Cascade Falls Trail

After parking along Highway 89 we passed through Bayview Campground. Cascade Falls trail starts at the Bayview Trailhead which is located at the far end of the campground.

Beginning of the Cascade Falls hike

The trail entrance was easy to spot and had large signs describing trail etiquette and the wilderness permit process.

Signs at the Bayview Trailhead

Some of the trails that start at Bayview Trailhead venture into Desolation Wilderness so you’ll see some information plaques about hiking permit requirements. However, it noted that Cascade Falls trail is NOT technically part of Desolation Wilderness so you don’t need to worry about paying a fee or getting a hiking permit.

At the Bayview Trailhead, we turned left into the Cascade Falls trail.

Follow signs for Cascade Falls

The hike started through a flat path in a forest which was great for warming up.

Easy section at the beginning of the trail.

Soon after the trail narrowed and started to climb up through rocks and giant boulders.

As the hike started to gain elevation we could see views of the magnificent Cascade Lake to the left of us.

View of Cascade Lake along the way

The higher we went, the better the views got!

Cascade Lake

Sections of this trail started to get more difficult and we had to scramble across large rocks.

Having slip-resistant hiking boots on this trail is essential to protect your ankles from rolling and your feet from slipping.

As we reached the Cascade Falls the trail was completely covered in rocks and was difficult to spot.

We lost the trail but we could hear the roaring waterfall to the left so we knew that we were close. We scrambled across the rocks and made our way towards the Cascade Creek.

Scrambling up giant boulders

When we reached Cascade Falls the views were just incredible all around!

We hiked up to where Cascade Creek drops off a cliff. If you’re not a fan of heights this can feel a bit scary since there were no guard rails and the ground was very wet.

Viewpoint of Cascade Falls

We hiked this trail in spring when Cascade Creek was full of water from the recent snowmelt and looked extra powerful rushing down the cliff. We could see down the cliff where the waterfall plunged into the ground at the bottom and connected with the Cascade Lake.  

After taking in the views we made our way back to the trail across the rocks. We had no idea where the trail was since there was no clear path through rocks but eventually, we connected back to it.

Once we finished the hike and reached the parking area we crossed Highway 89 and visited Inspiration Point across the road.

Inspiration Point is a quick stop that offers panoramic views of Emerald Bay and some information plaques about Lake Tahoe’s history.

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This post is written by Laura. Hi, I’m a California local and the founder of the California Wanderland travel blog. I currently live in Ventura County and help 30,000 readers a month discover things to do in Central California! Read more about me here.

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