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Rubicon Trail

D.L. Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay State Park

D.L. Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay State Park Links:

July 20th, 1999

9.0 miles
1275 vertical feet
Total Time: 4:30

Rating: 8/10

Directions:   View Driving Map

I hiked in D.L. Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay State Park.

It was a Tuesday afternoon, but the Calawee Cove parking area at D.L. Bliss State Park was already full. Summer at Tahoe. Thankfully, the lighthouse parking lot wasn't full, and there's a trailhead there.

I headed north along the Lighthouse trail toward Rubicon Point. It descends gently toward the lake, passing through fire-scarred forest. There are peek-a-boo views of the lake along the way. Shortly there's a path to the right toward the old lighthouse. I instead continued north, eventually emerging from the trees to the parking lot near Rubicon Point.

While I'd had the entire trail to myself, I could now see a few hikers coming out of the Rubicon Trail, and I could see hordes of people enjoying Lester Beach and Calawee Cove Beach. I snapped some pictures and continued south on the Rubicon Trail.

Lake Tahoe from near Rubicon Point

The trail stays close to the lake shore, with constant views of the lake to the left. Heavenly's ski runs are clearly visible to the south. Expect to share the trail with other hikers and trail runners, however. It's very popular; don't even think about doing it on a weekend. Also, there are lots of little side trails which go down toward the lake. It may be difficult to distinguish between the real trail and these side trails.

The water here is amazingly clear. Unfortunately, there isn't much space on the narrow trail to stop and enjoy it. There are steep drop-offs to the lake below (no sandy beaches).

Pubic Point?

Shortly I came to the side trail which would take me up to the old lighthouse. After a short climb and descent, I saw the lighthouse, which looks more like an outhouse (and is about the same size). After this disappointment, I retraced my steps and continued on the Rubicon Trail, which starts to head uphill and inland.


There's a trail with a sign that says "nature center" that goes to the right. I would take that later to get back to my car. For now, however, I continued through the forest. Eventually the trail heads downhill, back toward the lake shore. It then closely follows the shore the rest of the way.

As I found myself alone (for a change) on the trail, I heard what sounded like a strong wind rustling through the trees. The funny thing was that I couldn't see evidence of such wind. Shortly I came to the cause of the sound -- water rushing across the trail, down to the lake. I carefully crossed two cascades of water and continued.

The view from Emerald Point

At one point along this section of the trail is a rock where two people were resting, enjoying the views. It's one of the few places on the trail which allow that. The trail touches the lake for a brief moment. Then there's a sign at a trail junction -- Emerald Point or the bypass. I took the trail to Emerald Point. There's a tiny beach at Emerald Point from which Mt. Tallac is clearly visible above Emerald Bay.

The Tea House on Fannette Island

Halfway along the shore is Boat Camp, which has campsites and a small pier. Visible in the middle of Emerald Bay is Fannette Island (Lake Tahoe's only natural island), upon which rests the Tea House. All along this part of the trail are many wildflowers, including lupine and columbine. There are also dried-up remnants of the alien-looking red flower (which I first spotted in Sequoia NP) I have yet to identify.


At the end of the Rubicon Trail is Vikingsholm -- "considered the finest example of Scandinavian architecture in the Western Hemisphere" -- a 48-room castle which was built in 1929. After perusing the outside of the castle, I returned the way I came.

To save some time I took the bypass trail on the way back. I took the trail toward the nature center. This dropped me off on the road, but at the ranger kiosk, a few hundred yards from my car. I walked down the road, passing a trailhead on my right which, presumably, is the one I really wanted to take. Oh well.

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