Stateline Fire Lookout – Lake Tahoe Hiking Trails
The Stateline Fire Lookout, though often overlooked and off the beaten path, is beyond doubt the best high-elevation vantage point on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore. This is an especially great place to bring your kids. A short quarter mile gives you an extremely rewarding and spectacular bird’s eye view. About fifteen minutes from the fire road, and you’ll be at the historic lookout. The trail is paved the whole way, fairly flat, and there’s a restroom at the top. An extra treat; there are a variety of signs along the self-guided trail providing surprising facts and interesting history of the Lake Tahoe area. One such tidbit offers the story of how California ‘stole’ the Brockway Hot Springs as you see it down below from the state of Nevada during a rather shady survey land grab. The area has long been the object of dispute over boundaries between the states.
Gorgeous glimpses through the trees on the way up give you a teasing preview of what you’ll find while you’re up there, but nothing can prepare you for this vista – 7,017 feet up, Crystal Bay and Brockway beaches stretch out before you, along with a complete view of the Lake Tahoe Basin and its watershed. Make sure to bring a camera, as you’ll definitely want pictures at the top, and there are also strategically placed picnic tables all around the area, so it’s a peaceful and picturesque place to picnic. The lookout tower itself is infrequently used today, and is the best spot to take photos from. You can also leave the main trail on a side path leading down to the lake where the kids will have a blast bouldering some large rocks.
In winter this trail is a premier snowshoeing path, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The lookout is rather difficult to find, so don’t bother looking for signs. At Crystal Bay, Nevada, turn up Reservoir Road between the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge and the old Tahoe Mariner casinos, then turn right at the firehouse. Continue up the hill until you reach a point where a steeper U.S. Forest Service road doubles back to the left above you. Follow this for a quarter mile beyond the green metal gate to the parking lot. Make sure not to block the gate.