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General Information: The Cascade Falls ski tour is a pleasant, short tour located on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe. It combines a short ski with little elevation gain with a real feeling of remoteness once at the falls. When not crowded, it can feel like you are miles into the wilderness with distant Tahoe views as well as grand mountain views to the west. Winter is the perfect time to have this popular summer hike destination all to yourself.

Where To Start: Emerald Bay is located a few miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89. The Bayview trail starts at the end of the Bayview Campground opposite Inspiration Point which is the scenic overlook located one mile before you get to Emerald Bay. In winter, the gate to the campground will be locked and the ski tour begins at the locked gate. A wooden sign at the end of the campground points left to Cascade Falls, to the right...Granite Lake and Maggies Peaks.

Click for a map and elevation profile

Trail Description: Someone before you will probably have the trail broken. If not, follow the wide trail back until it pops out on the side of the mountain with Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe in the background. The trail contours along this mountainside for 3/4 miles . Along the way, you will have fine views to the east. The trail comes out in the broad Cascade Valley. Head over to the stream and check out the frozen waterfall. For the more experienced, you can continue up Cascade Canyon all the way to Azure and Snow Lake.

Visible from the falls, the ridges on both sides and at the end of Cascade Lake are actually lateral and terminal moraines where rock debris, pushed along by the glacier was finally deposited as the weather warmed and the glacier receded. Another few thousand years, and Tahoe would have had TWO Emerald Bays!

To get back to the trail head, just reverse your travel.

Environmental Concerns: The greatest environmental concern here is the shear volume of people and the pollution that seems to always accompany thousands of humans. Be sure to use the restroom at the rail head but if you have to go while out, stay a minimum of 100 yards away from the stream. Use the hike as an opportunity to talk to your children about responsible environmental stuardship and spend 15 minutes filling up a bag with trash left behind by careless previous hikers. Let the kids know that people go into the wilderness to escape the loudness of the city and instill in them an appreciation for listening to how incredibly quiet nature usually is!\

Advisory: The falls are steep, the rocks slippery, and in the spring, the current is strong. As seems very obvious, be wary and watch children carefully! To paraphrase a sign we read in Yosemite, "If, for any reason, you go over the falls, you WILL die."

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