Back to index Rubicon Trail South & Vikingsholm Hike

Trip Date:  02/09/2018

: 7.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 400'

Group Size: 2

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Rubicon South Route
See video of this hike   See video of hike   Download GPXGPX for this trip

Rubicon South Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 57.219, W 120 06.532     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No
Parking Directions:   Take Highway 89 north from South Lake Tahoe past Camp Richardson until you reach Emerald Bay.  Head to the State Park parking area along the north side of the bay, just past the Eagle Falls trailhead parking.  The lot will be on the right (south) side of the road.  As of 2018, there was a $5 charge to park in the lot for the day.  
Hazards of Note:   Steep drop-offs on trail which can be dangerous in winter or icy conditions.
Crowd Factor:   High.  This is an extremely popular hike and one of the most popular in the Lake Tahoe area for visitors.  Expect to have a significant amount of people on the trail.
General Notes:
From the parking area head down the trail toward Vikingsholm Castle just past the parking pay kiosk at the eastern end of the lot.  The first 3/4 mile down toward Vikingsholm is a constant downhill path, but then once you reach the bottom follow the signs toward the Rubicon Trail to the left.  Make sure you don't turn left at the first junction, which is just a paved access road for the State Park workers.  
Once on the Rubicon Trail you will head along the north end of Emerald Bay, and then after about a mile cross a peninsula until you come out with amazing views of Lake Tahoe for the rest of the journey.  
Venture as far north as possible, with the trail finally ending at DL Bliss State Park after 8 miles.  If having to return the same way, this will double the amount of distance on the hike for the day.  In the wintertime or after a cold, wet overnight, you will probably want to have microspikes along due to the steep slippery condition of sections of the trail along the Lake Tahoe shore.

The trail from the parking lot is relatively steep, but wide enough to allow vehicle access for the State Park workers down toward Vikingsholm Castle at the bottom of the incline. Trail down from parking

A look back toward North Maggie's Peak, which Eagle Falls can be found flowing down from the right side of the mountain. North Maggie's Peak

My daughter checking out Emerald Bay from near the start of the actual Rubicon Trail.  The outlet to Lake Tahoe proper can be seen in the distance. Emerald Bay

Same daughter getting eaten by a rock monster early along the trail. Rock Monster

A typical section of trail along the Emerald Bay portion of the Rubicon. Typical Trail

Information board at the Emerald Bay State Park boat camp area. Information board

Nice, secluded beach just at the point where the trail passes over a peninsula between Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe and begins travelling along the edge of Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe beach

Lake Tahoe view from along the trail just a little bit north of Emerald Bay. Lake Tahoe View

Heading down one of the very slick sections of trail.  Microspikes were required to keep from having trouble with the steep dropoffs to the sides. Heading down icy trail

Looking south toward Mt. Tallac from the return trip along Emerald Bay. Mt. Tallac view from the return trip

Vikingsholm Castle, locked up tightly during the winter but a former residential estate right at the base of Eagle Falls along Emerald Bay. Vikingsholm Castle

Just past the castle is a large visitor center on the way toward the base of Eagle Falls. Visitor Center

Viewpoint from the base of Eagle Falls.  This location is just past the continuation of the Rubicon Trail south from the Vikingsholm Eagle Falls

GPS Track of the full hike, from left to right and back. GPS Track of Hike