Top Snowshoe Hikes in South Lake Tahoe

When you want a break from skiing, make the most of your time off the Heavenly slopes by exploring South Lake Tahoe snowshoe trails with friends.

Posted November 15, 2023


Family Snowshoes In Keystone, CO.

Looking for fun activities with your friends while taking a break from skiing the Heavenly slopes? Unlike skiing, snowshoeing only requires you to be able to walk and have a minimum of equipment. If you and your friends like to hike, they can join you for a trek along South Lake Tahoe snowshoe trails.  

The Simplicity of Snowshoeing 

When visiting Heavenly with your friends, chances are you’re not necessarily all at the same ski level. Snowshoeing gives you quality time together where everyone can enjoy the experience as a group.  

If your friends can walk, they can snowshoe, provided they have a pair of waterproof boots. You only need to rent a pair of snowshoes at your favorite ski shop to start the adventure.  

Make sure the snowshoes suit your weight (including your fully-loaded pack) and the terrain you plan to explore. Your rental pro will match you with the right ones. Flat terrain snowshoes are ideal for beginners and will serve you well along groomed snowshoe trails and rolling terrain.  

Prepare for Adventure 

Although the essential gear needed to explore the South Lake Tahoe snowshoe trails includes warm, waterproof boots and snowshoes, there are a few other items you’ll want to bring. 

Adjustable trekking poles with snow baskets are recommended if you’re venturing off a fairly level snowshoe track or would like added support. Poles also give your arms a little bit of a workout.  

Take a pack with water, snacks, first aid, and other items you might need during your journey. Download the EpicMix app on your phone to monitor real-time snow conditions in the area before you head out. 

Snowshoeing Trail Etiquette 

Snowshoes give you the freedom that takes you anywhere there’s snow, but those new to the sport might want to stick to multi-use trails. You’ll encounter several types of snowshoe trails around South Lake Tahoe: 

  • Trails broken by another snowshoer — Following tracks that have been broken is much easier than heading out across pristine snow. Remember that just because someone went that way doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they’re doing, so stay alert to the conditions around you. 
  • Trails shared with Nordic skiers —Walk along the outer edge of the path in a single file to maintain the integrity of the groomed trails and avoid collisions. Don’t walk on the ski tracks or disturb the smooth skate-skiing surface in the middle of the course. Cross-country skiers have the right of way, as it’s easier for snowshoers to step off the track than for a Nordic skier to slow down or stop. 
  • Trails shared with Snowmobiles — These are best avoided, but if you find yourself on one, make yourself as highly visible as possible and listen carefully for nearby machines. 


South Lake Tahoe Snowshoe Trails 

The top snowshoe hikes in South Lake Tahoe range from beginner to advanced. Know what terrain you’ll encounter by downloading a copy of Tahoe Trail Guide’s snowshoeing map. The not-to-scale map gives you an idea of what terrain to expect as a general rule in the area you’ll be hiking. Keep in mind that snow, weather, and avalanche conditions are variables you’ll monitor. 

The most accessible hikes, denoted on the map by green circles, are on reasonably level terrain with little to no incline and generally low avalanche risk. More advanced routes include rolling hills with moderate angles, denoted by blue squares. The most difficult snowshoeing terrain is steep and will get your cardio going. Marked by black diamonds on the Tahoe Trail Guide map, they also necessitate being avalanche savvy.  

Easy Does It 


Beginners will enjoy getting accustomed to snowshoeing on reasonably level terrain. Several South Lake Tahoe snowshoe trails are at lake level, meaning they take longer to accumulate enough snow for snowshoeing but offer great walks during low-snow years. 

  • Bijou Community Park is an excellent place for beginners to get used to their snowshoes. The meadows and trails between the trees remain on level terrain. You could even bring a flying disc and try a bit of snowshoe disc golf. Watch for cross-country skiers who also use this park. 
  • Rabe Meadows is located on the Nevada side, with access to the Lam Watah Historic Trail. This out-and-back level hike takes you one mile through prime wildlife habitat to emerge on the shore of Lake Tahoe. 
  • Washoe Meadows State Park serves up mostly level terrain as it winds through woodlands with majestic mountain views. Due to roadside parking, it’s best to visit the park when snowplows aren’t operating.  
  • Pioneer Trail can be one of your South Lake Tahoe snowshoe trails, especially if you ride to the southern end and trek back to the resort. As you approach Heavenly, the reasonably level terrain turns intermediate, and you’ll enjoy dramatic mountain and lake views.  

More Advanced Terrain 

  • Van Sickle Bi-State Park, directly behind Heavenly Mountain Resort, is ideal for a snowshoe hike. The park sits on hilly terrain, so keep to areas that best accommodate the least fit person in your snowshoeing group of friends. The fee-free park is open from sunrise to sunset, but avoid parking tickets by using the paid garage at the resort to park your car. 
  • Fallen Leaf Lake - Ditch the crowds and trek the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake. The moderate hike includes descending to the shore of the lake and climbing back up again. The trek rewards you with lakeside views after the first half-mile.  

Take a Guided Tour 

The best way to enjoy the South Lake Tahoe snowshoe trails is to go with someone familiar with the area and can make the most of your time trekking the snow.  

  • The Tahoe Rim Trail Association offers themed treks that focus on nature photography or knowledge of the local ecosystem, making them some of the South Lake Tahoe snowshoe trails. The tours occur intermittently, so check their website to find out whether you can join one during your upcoming travel dates.  
  • Tahoe Snowshoe Tours offers sunset and moonlight treks as well as wildlife watching and photography. The fairly level outings head along some of the South Lake Tahoe snowshoe trails. They can also photograph you and produce souvenir metal and giclée on canvas keepsakes of your experience.