Moraine Trail – Lake Tahoe Hiking Trails
Moraine Trail along Fallen Leaf Lake is a great easy, minimal elevation hike that would be ideal for families with children. Great for bird-watching or simply enjoying the day, the out-and-back 2.5 mile trail should take you about an hour and a half total. At three miles long, scenic Fallen Leaf Lake is the second largest alpine lake in the Tahoe Basin. The relatively flat trail crosses the dam at Fallen Leaf and goes along the West Shore to Sawmill Cove, where a group of rock chimneys remain to pay homage to the houses that used to be there. Beautiful firs and pines provide plentiful shade, and the lake sparkles enticingly through the trees.
Fallen Leaf is an excellent place to swim or fish. The northern end of the lake is great for swimming, so don’t forget your trunks. The lake has deep waters and the same species of game fish that dwell in Lake Tahoe, including mackinaw trout, browns, rainbows, and kokanee salmon. It’s also a fun spot for a midday picnic. There are some little alcoves that would supply a superb area for this. You can let Rover splash around all you want, as dogs are allowed off-leash. The trail is also open to bikers and horseback riders. Be sure to pack the bug spray, as the shade is a favorite of mosquitoes as well. The lake was created by glaciers, and evidence of this can be seen in the northern end of the lake, where you can view a terminal moraine (This is also how the trail was named). Besides the unparalleled views of Fallen Leaf, Moraine Trail offers views of majestic Cathedral Peak and Mount Tallac, which surround the lake. At the south end of the lake, the waters are fed by Glen Alpine Creek, and the flow is prime in spring until it tapers off in late summer.
To get to the parking lot, take Highway 89 north to Fallen Leaf Road and continue approximately 2/3 of a mile to Fallen Leaf Campground. Drive through the campground and park just before campsite #75 on the right; there’s no fee for day use. The trailhead sign is near the parking area. The best time to do this hike is in summer, when the waters are warm enough for swimming and the fish are biting.