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Rubicon Trail Out and Back



12.3 mile 19.8 kilometer out and back
95% Runnable


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


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.


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.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes


Land Manager: California State Parks

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Sep 15, 2019
Diana Maassen
Jul 12, 2019
Jenny L
Jul 8, 2019
Shawn Lancaster
Jun 15, 2019
Kyle Underseth
Beautiful. 14mi — 3h 00m
Sep 1, 2018
n n
Jun 9, 2018
Ben Dijk
May 20, 2018
Chris Leonetti
Freaking awesome. 14mi
Oct 14, 2017
Drew Coughlin
beautiful singletrack but congested

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 31 votes


  4.7 from 31 votes
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in California


157 Views Last Month
19,484 Since Aug 9, 2016



Emerald Bay in the morning light.
Aug 15, 2016 near South L…, CA
Like heading right through the middle of a postcard! The location is approximate.
Jun 20, 2017 near Tahoma, CA
An Early Emerald Morning.
Aug 15, 2016 near South L…, CA
Sunsets over Lake Tahoe leave nothing to be desired.
Aug 15, 2016 near Tahoma, CA
Lake Tahoe from D.L. Bliss State Park
Nov 24, 2017 near Tahoma, CA
Lake Tahoe from Rubicon Trail
Nov 24, 2017 near Tahoma, CA

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