Tahoe Rim Trail to Picnic Rock
Picnic Rock is one of my favorite hikes in North Lake Tahoe for the epic views and peaceful rock outcropping at the top. This family friendly hike is great for kids and visitors because it’s shaded, only 1.5 miles to the top and offers great views every step of the way. The trail follows the famous Tahoe Rim Trail which is 165 miles long and circumnavigates Lake Tahoe.
Length: 3 Miles
Vertical Feet: 830
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate Depending on Your Fitness Level
Trail Type: Out and Back
Surface Type: Packed Dirt With Some Rocks
Features: Lakeviews, Dog friendly
Getting there: The trailhead for Picnic Rock Viewpoint is located on Highway 267 between Truckee and Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe. It’s closer to Kings Beach than Truckee and is up the hill past Northstar. Coming from Kings Beach drive about 3 miles up Hwy 267 and the parking area will be on your left. From the traffic light at Northstar Drive it’s just under 4 miles and the parking will be on your right. It’s more of a pullout than a parking lot.
Parking: Park vertically in the pullout to allow room for others (front in). If the pullout is full you can park on the shoulder of Hwy 267 or if you have 4WD you can pull up the dirt road on the east side of the road, across from the parking area.
Trail Description: Walk across Hwy 267 and hike up the dirt road. It’s very short then you will see the sign for the Tahoe Rim Trail along with a trail map and trail information. This is the actual start of the hike.
There are many hiking options from this trailhead and you can choose to go as many miles as you like. You could even go all the way around the Lake, although that takes a lot of time and planning. Check out Tahoe Rim Trail Association if you are interested in learning more about hiking around Lake Tahoe. Here’s the mileage for different destinations along the trail. This post is focused on the Viewpoint which is 1 1/2 miles.
The trail is singletrack and relatively smooth. It’s does climb up about 830 feet over the 1.5 miles so be prepared for some climbing and switchbacks. The switchbacks are nice because that keeps the trail from feeling too steep and you can keep up a decent pace. There are lake and mountain views right away to keep you inspired. This trail goes through the Tahoe National Forest and is relatively shady which is nice on hot summer days. There isn’t any water along the trail so make sure you bring something to drink for yourself and any furry friends joining you.
After a little over a mile you will come to an intersection in the trail. There will be a trail going up to your left, this is where you leave the Tahoe Rim Trail to hike up to the Viewpoint. There is a arrow shaped sign on a tree signaling the turn. At this point you are almost there!
The trail gets a bit steeper here but it’s short so push through it! About 1/4 mile up you will see the rock outcropping on your right and a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe on your left. From the top of the rocks you’ll have a 365 degree view of Lake Tahoe all the way to Truckee.