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Incline Village-Crystal Bay, Nevada, United States

Marlette Lake Direct

Awesome views of Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake, and only 5 miles round trip.

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    This guide contains photos
 (3 votes, 3 reviews)
Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 5.2 miles / 8.4 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
Overview: The name of this hike says it all: "direct". It is a moderately steep uphill climb from the lake level up to Marlette Lake, with views of Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake visible at once from a point high up the trail. It's mostly shaded at the lower elevations, and passes through sugarpine forest, stands of aspen and even a patch of ferns. About four fifths of the trail is quite obvious, but the last steep descent to Marlette Lake the trail is a little hard to follow. This is a great trail to take in early October, when the aspens on the east side of Marlette Lake are shimmering golden.

Tips: Directions -- Take Route 28 south out of Incline Village for 5 miles to the parking area just across the road from the Chimney Beach trailhead.

Points of Interest



Find the old logging road that starts from the south side of the parking lot.

Lake Tahoe View

The first third of the hike is along this old logging road/path and varies from moderate to occasionally slightly steep. Excellent track and great views of Lake Tahoe.

Fork Left

There is fork in the trail -- about three quarters of the way up. You have to take the left fork (see photo), which is often blocked off by a log. From the fork to the dam, the track is on-and-off rather faint, so be attentive.

[The right fork provides an alternative (but a bit lengthy and not mapped here) opportunity to first loop to the south end of Marlette Lake (joining up with the North Canyon trail from Spooner Lake), then north up the west edge of Marlette to the dam, and then return by our "direct" route.]


Just below the dam you'll briefly join the famous Flume Trail (very popular with mountain bikers) as it departs from Marlette Lake.

Marlette Lake

Marlette Lake is one of two natural lakes (the other is Incline Lake near the Tahoe Meadows) that were deepened via small dams in the late 1800s to increase their depth. Their water was them run along flumes to Tunnel Creek to send timber through the Carson Range to the Carson Valley and ultimately used to shore up the silver mines at Virginia City.

Marlette Lake is now a government regulated fish hatchery (at the south end). Fishing is prohibited all but a couple weeks in the autumn.


On your return you'll need to be careful to get back on your track just below the dam. Keep looking left (see photo) until you find the hundred feet or so of trail ascent.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Khensu, jstrails
We really enjoyed this trail, although our experience is that it's longer than 5 miles round trip. My GPS (Garmin GPSmap 62s) logged our round trip at 7.8 miles (including a short jaunt, once we got to Marlette Lake, to the main north-south body of the lake to look around). Great views of Lake Tahoe at several different spots along the way, and good bird-watching opportunities, too. Only saw a few other people along the trail on the day we went. I would recommend this trail, with the note that you should expect a longer than 5-mile hike.
Visited on Jun 11, 2013

by Bfrey100 on Jun 12, 2013
This was a pretty good hike that got your heart pumping. The hike to the lake was mostly an uphill climb & proved to be challenging. I like that the hike is dog friendly & uncrowded so you can let your dogs go. On the day we hiked the trail, there was a mountain bike race happening. So, there was a lot of stop & go, while we moved aside for mountain bikers. The trail at this time of the year is extremely dusty, so expect to be covered in a few layers of dust (from head to toe) by the time you get done. Once you get to Marlette Lake, you can enjoy a really nice, clean lake with great views & let the dogs go for a swim. Overall, I would say that I'm glad I hiked it & would recommend it to others.
Visited on Sep 30, 2012

by Itzaccihuatl on Oct 01, 2012
It was a lot more strenuous than I had anticipated, and my GPS logged it at 3.1 miles by the time I reached Marlette Lake. Elevation gain was 1,647.

The trail was uncrowded and the views of Lake Tahoe were numerous and lovely.

Visited on Sep 19, 2012

by Sunluvn on Sep 19, 2012

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About the Author

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Random meandering from coast to coast. TOO MUCH FUN As a 6-year-old in Fairfax County, Virginia,...

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