Situated at 6,225 feet (1,897 meters) above sea level, California’s Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. While Lake Tahoe has always provided boundless recreation opportunities, only recently has it been possible to circumnavigate the crest of the lake on a single trail.
Proposed by Glenn Hampton, a recreation officer at the U.S. Forest Service Tahoe Basin Unit, the 165-mile (266 kilometer) Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) was constructed by an almost entirely volunteer effort and completed in 2001. The TRT has eight trailheads that split the trail into sections ranging from 13 to 31 miles (21 to 50 kilometers). Besides the pure length of each segment, what makes the trail especially challenging and appealing is that these sections can include up to 3,000-foot (915-meter) climbs and drops—and some of the most spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.
We highly recommend carving out two weeks to through hike the full TRT, but if you can’t escape for that long, you can still enjoy some of the challenge and splendor by hiking the 12.2-mile (16.6-kilometer) segment from Spooner Summit to Kingsbury Grade North. Following the peaks of the Carson Range, this section of the TRT weaves through huge trunks of ancient firs, granite outcrops, and an endless number of panoramic outlooks over Lake Tahoe.
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