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Cascade Falls

South Lake Tahoe

November 23rd, 1999

2.0 miles
405 vertical feet
Total Time: 1:56

Rating: 8/10

Directions:   View Driving Map


I parked at the vista point parking lot overlooking Fannette Island and Emerald Bay.

The lot is across the street from the Bay View campground. The campground was closed for the winter, but the trail was open for business.

A family was in the parking lot playing, but no one else was on the trail. I saw signs of early season skiers and lots of footprints, but no actual people.

Snow covered most of the ground. There were patches of bare ground and also lots of patches of ice. For that I was glad to have my trekking poles to improve my balance. No more falling as I had the previous day.

After walking through the campground, I started up the trail. To the left is the path to Cascade Falls. To the right lies a trail into the Desolation Wilderness.

Animal prints in the snow

The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds. When it slipped behind the clouds, it added a definite sense of winter to the trail. It was peaceful, and it had me looking forward to returning with my snowshoes when the snow was deep enough.

Cascade Creek just above the falls

Falls starting to freeze

The trail goes south until it reaches Cascade Lake. From there it skirts the northern shore, as views open up toward Lake Tahoe and the mountains behind Cascade Lake. Soon I reached Cascade Creek, which becomes Cascade Falls and feeds Cascade Lake. I lost the trail at this point. I basically walked upstream as much as I could until I couldn't easily go any farther.

Cascade Lake

The creek was fighting a losing battle against the coming winter. An entire still portion of a feeder creek was frozen. Water still gushed underneath and around it, by the icicles and half-frozen plants. Soil had the look of tundra. Above, snow-covered mountains glistened in the sunshine.

Mountain above Cascade Falls


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