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South Lake Tahoe, California, United States

Eagle Creek Canyon Snowshoe (Ski)

Lake Tahoe Winter Trails

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.2 miles / 5.2 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
Overview: Eagle Creek Canyon is a popular year-round destination for outdoor adventurers and offers access to the Desolation Wilderness. In the winter, it is a popular snowshoe and skiing destination, as well as one of the few good ice climbing crags.

The frozen Eagle Creek, spectacular cliffs in the canyon, views of Lake Tahoe, and presence of ice climbers make this a fun, interesting, and beautiful winter destination.

Be sure to pickup a free (and required) trail wilderness permit at the trailhead.

Tips: A GPS track is NO substitute for winter travel experience, avalanche safety knowledge, map and compass navigational ability, and common sense! I am not responsible for you if you should follow my track and hurt or kill yourself!

Check the weather forecast and avalanche forecast before you go (although neither is a guarantee of safe conditions!)

Eagle Lake may or may not be frozen. To be safe, travel around the lake instead of crossing over it.

SR89 closes after heavy snow due to avalanches on the road. Check CalTrans for road conditions.

If you chose to ski, most skiers use heavy duty backcountry skis with skins due to variable snow conditions and narrow, steep, tree-lined trails. However, expert cross-country skiers have made the trip when snow conditions permit. If in doubt, go on snowshoes!

Points of Interest



Park on the West side of 89 at the bottom of the hill at Emerald Bay. Park nose in - this is a popular spot!


Sign in for a (free) wilderness permit at the trailhead. Toilets are usually closed in winter.

Fork and steep trail section

You can take the right fork up and over the hill to avoid this steep section. The trails rejoin just before the bridge.

Trails rejoin

The right and left (steep) forks rejoin.

Bridge over the Eagle Creek

Bridge over the Eagle Creek, nice views.

Desolation Wilderness Boundary

Beyond this point is designated wilderness.

Trail (general)


Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake is commonly crossed over ice in the dead of winter, but BE CAREFUL! There is always thin ice at the inlet and outlet, and there may be thin ice everywhere. Be safe and walk around if there is any doubt.

Boulder Field

There is a boulder field with HOLES here. You may think the snow is solid and then fall 20 feet into a hole. Be very careful, there is NO trail here! Stay low or turn around here if in doubt.

Eagle Creek Ice Cliff

Ice climbers are often found here in the winter
Pictures in this guide taken by: VZIMMER

Eagle Creek Canyon Snowshoe (Ski) Trail Map

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About the Author

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Hiker, Snow-lover, Rock-Lover, River-Lover, Nerd.

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