Back to index Van Sickle Park to Tahoe Rim Trail Hike
Trip Date:  10/30/2019

: 7.0 Miles  

Vertical Gain: 1400'

Group Size: 2

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Van Sickle Route
Download GPXGPX for this trip
Van Sickle Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 57.400'  W 119 56.092'     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 50 toward South Lake Tahoe.  Turn onto Pioneer Trail, and then turn right onto Highway 50 where Pioneer Trail ends.  Turn right on Heavenly Village way, continue past the commercial centers on either side and then head into the park to the parking coordinates.
Hazards of Note:   Late afternoon thunder storms in the summers. Crowd Factor:   Moderate to High.  This is a popular area for mountain biking and local dog walkers.
General Notes:
From the parking area head toward the Van Sickle State Park kiosk with information about this being a Tahoe Rim Trail connector trail.  The first section of the trail is very tame with just slight elevation gain, but be sure to look for the wooden posts indicating the continuation of the trail as there are many other use trails which head off in various directions at this early part of the trail.  Follow the trail markers which head toward the waterfall, found about 2 miles up the trail.  There are a couple of good loop trails which head off to the right as you head up to the Tahoe Rim Trail, but for this specific route stay to the left at each of these junctions to continue on up the connector trail.
Along the first mile and a half are great views back toward the South Shore and Lake Tahoe beyond, so be sure to stop and look back to capture some of these amazing vistas.  You will also have these views on the way back as well.  The last couple miles see the trail head into the forest for the most part, although there are views to the north of the Kingsbury Grade area as you head up toward the Tahoe Rim Trail along with the some of the homes on the north side of the Kingsbury Highway built right onto the rocks.
As you reach the actual Tahoe Rim Trail, you can choose to continue either right or left, or just find a sunny location on the small hill in front of you to stop and enjoy the environment for awhile before heading back down the way you came.

At the parking area, look for this kiosk to the southwest of the area to start out on the hike. Starting point
Early on, before the true elevation gain starts you will pass by this information marker talking about the Gondola Fire from the early 2000s, sadly started by a careless smoker who threw their cigarette butt out of one of the Heavenly gondolas and burned the area you will spend some time passing through. Gondola Fire info
Be sure to check out some of the fascinating rock formations all around you as you head up the trail. Rock formations
As the trail gains elevation you will be rewarded with great views of Lake Tahoe and the mountains of Desolation Wilderness and beyond. Early view
Nice shot of the mountains to the north of Emerald Bay across Lake Tahoe. Desolation Wilderness
Yours truly and dog 'Tahoe' checking out the waterfall up closely. Checking out the waterfall
Information sign on the bridge giving information about the waterfall just beyond. Sign
The Van Sickle waterfall from the bridge. Van Sickle waterfall Frozen part
A higher view toward Lake Tahoe with the south shore casinos visible in the foreground. Higher view
Continuing on up the trail with the great views all around. Continuing up
As the connector trail is about to reach the actual Tahoe Rim Trail, you can spot some of the nearby Heavenly Valley resort buildings through the trees. Nearing the TRT
One of the TRT marker signs that are so prevalent along the 165 mile loop around Lake Tahoe. TRT marker
GPS Track of the full hike, from right to left and back. GPS Track of Hike