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Rubicon Trail Out and Back

 12 votes

12.3 Miles 19.8 Kilometers






1,215' 370 m


-1,214' -370 m


6,624' 2,019 m


6,240' 1,902 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (11°)

Minor Issues

3 days agoUpdate

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 run 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
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 run 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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4.8 from 12 votes

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Oct 14, 2017
Drew Coughlin
beautiful singletrack but congested
Jul 22, 2017
Jul 17, 2017
Joey Hollister
beautiful trail 8.5mi
Jul 9, 2017
Mark Ballou
Glad I picked this trail as an intro to Lake Tahoe trail running! 10mi — 2h 30m
Jun 10, 2017
Geoff harrison
Jun 3, 2017
Run 13mi
Oct 21, 2016
James McLachlan

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 12 votes


  4.8 from 12 votes
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in California


232 Views Last Month
3,257 Since Aug 9, 2016
Intermediate Intermediate



Minor Issues 3 days ago
Snowy, Some Mud - Part of the trail covered with a thin layer of snow. A little muddy where the snow has thawed.
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Mark Ballou
Burbank, CA
Mark Ballou   Burbank, CA
If you're a weekend warrior type (like me), not altitude trained & think you're gonna come up to Lake Tahoe & bang out a bit of the Western States course or some of The Rim Trail, think again. After choosing this trail, I can't imagine tackling more serious elevation. This is a GREAT intro trail; beautiful, challenging enough, & can be modified. I ran to Vikingsholm & The Falls & back for 10 mi. Jul 9, 2017

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