Mount Tallac

Place Name: Desolation Wilderness

Place Description: State: California
Date: 08/29/2020
Elevation: 9,735 Feet
Prominence: 695 Feet
Miles: 10.7
Elevation Gain: 3,382 Feet
Lists: Tahoe-Ogul, Sierra Sampler, Western States Climbers, Sierra Club Sierra Peaks Section

  • Difficulty
  • Solitude
  • Kid Friendly
  • Summit Views

The Most Crowded Trail In Tahoe?

Mount Tallac may just be the most crowded trail in Lake Tahoe. Don’t let that deter you from tackling this giant rock. It is definitely worth conquering and a fun a challenge.



  • Views!
  • Steep challenging hike
  • Lakes along the way


  • Crowded
  • Parking area is small
  • Very exposed to the sun

When you drive into South Lake Tahoe, there is no missing the dark summit of Mount Tallac. With the close proximity to all of the tourist attractions and the summit selfies on Instagram, Mount Tallac is the busiest trail in the region.

If you can stomach the crowds of people and the traffic jam you will encounter on CA-89 on your way back into town on a weekend afternoon, Tallac will give you a great workout. Not to mention the all encompassing views of the lake.

Getting There

Mount Tallac is accessed from CA-89 and a signed road leads to the parking area. On a summer weekend, this parking area is full by 7 a.m. and you will have to parking somewhere along the road.

The Trail

This trail is super easy to follow and you will not be alone. The early sections lead to a manzanita covered ridge overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake. The trail continues through the forest along the shoreline of Floating Island Lake and later on Cathedral Lake.

Mount Tallac

Floating Island Lake

Once above Cathedral Lake, the tree line ends and you will be ascending through a giant talus field. This area gets very exposed to the sun and is extremely hot on summer day. Route finding is still pretty easy as you snake your way up to the ridge and connect with another trail.

Mount Tallac

Looking back down towards the trail.

The trail becomes single track dirt again and works its way to the rocky summit. There are a couple of places where you may need to use your hands, overall, it’s pretty easy. I didn’t find a benchmark or a register, however, the three dozen people on the summit took away from the overall experience.

Mount Tallac

The summit area.

Lake Tahoe is beautiful from this vantage point, probably the second best view of the lake after Rubicon Peak.

Mount Tallac

Mount Tallac summit views north.

The Final Word

Mount Tallac is one of those peaks that you need to do once. I’d recommend doing it on a weekday in the spring or fall to mitigate the crowds. It really is a great trail and a solid half day trip, however, I’m just not a fan of busy trails. For a lot of people, this may be the toughest hike they ever do. Although for folks that are avid peak baggers this is just a solid hike. Some may even tack on other area hikes afterwards.

With a spot on the Tahoe Ogul Peak List, Tallac was one I needed and I even put together a large group from my crossfit gym to join me on this endeavor.

There are so many options to hike and peak bag in the Tahoe region, let the crowds take over Tallac and enjoy the other ones to yourself!