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Cascade Falls Hiking Trail: a hike with stunning views of Cascade Lake and Cascade Falls

(Last Updated On: March 7, 2015)


From Sacramento, take Highway 50 to South Lake Tahoe. At the split, take Highway 89 north for roughly 8 miles. Look for the Bayview Trailhead on your left side. It’s across the highway from Inspiration Point. If you see Eagle Falls Trailhead, then you have gone too far.

Bayview Trailhead

bayview trailhead (1 of 1)This trailhead has a $5 fee for parking. If you don’t want to pay the fee, then you can look for an opening in one of the limited parking spots outside of the trailhead along Highway 89.

This trailhead has the following amenities:


  • Very busy in the Summertime. Try to go on weekday.
  • Bring water
  • Wear proper shoes
  • Bring sunscreen if needed
  • Dress accordingly
  • Bring camera
  • Fill out Desolation Wilderness Permit if planning on going further

My Experience

bayview trail 1 (1 of 1)The Bayview Trailhead is the starting point for two trails:

Bayview Trail

Cascade Falls Hiking Trail

At the beginning of the hike, there’s a sign that points to each trail. For this article, we will choose the option “Cascade”. The option “Desolation” will take you up to Maggie’s Peaks and deep into the heart of Desolation Wilderness.

You can check out my article on Bayview Trail up to Maggie’s Peaks for photos and details

The Cascade Falls Hiking Trail is only .75 miles in distance. It starts out relatively flat with a gentle stroll through fragments of a pine and fir forest.

cascade trail 5 (1 of 1)

The trail is easy to follow even through the wide open landscape. Eventually, you come to some stairs that take you up in elevation through some rocks.

cascade trail 2 (1 of 1)

In total, the elevation change is only about 150 feet. For the most part, the trail is easy for visitors of all ages. However, once hiking through the rocks, it can get slippery especially if there’s any moisture. If you take your time, there should be no problems.

It’s also at this point where you catch your first glimpses of Cascade Lake.

First glimpse of Cascade Lake
First glimpse of Cascade Lake

Cascade Lake

This beautiful glacially formed lake was owned by the same family for over a century. It’s roughly 170 feet deep and has been the backdrop for several movies:

“Lightnin” – a 1930 film starring Will Rogers

“Rose Marie” – a 1936 filmstarring Jeannette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy

“A Place in the Sun” – a 1956 film starring Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift

Additionally, famed author John Steinbeck wrote his first book at Cascade Lake titled “A Cup of Gold”. Steinbeck used to work for the family that owned Cascade Lake. He was a tutor for the kids, a chauffeur and a caretaker.

Cascade Falls

As you continue to navigate through the rocks and boulders, you can hear the waterfall before seeing it. But, soon, you will see the large waterfall off in the distance as it seems to poor out of South Maggie’s Peak.

cascade trail 4 (1 of 1)

The closer you get to the waterfall, you can feel the power as the ground starts vibrating. It’s only a matter of moments before you reach the waterfall. In fact, it only takes about 30 minutes to get to the waterfall from the trailhead.

Once at Cascade Falls, you can truly appreciate the magnificence of this 200 foot waterfall. In the spring time, the water flow is at its peak. The Cascade creeks comes roaring down and over the cliff to Cascade Lake. From what I hear, it’s even more impressive at the bottom of the waterfall. In the summer time, not only is the trail more crowded, but the waterfall is more of a trickle than a flow.

cascade falls 2 (1 of 1)

Final Words

Cascade Falls Hiking Trail is another terrific option for families looking to enjoy the Lake Tahoe region. At roughly 1.5 miles round trip, this hike is suitable for kids as well. The remote feel, a serene landscape and a powerful waterfall make this hike a great adventure.

Check out more of my Lake Tahoe adventures.

cascade lake 2 (1 of 1)

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After many years of being a full time freelance writer, and a long time resident of this state, I've decided to turn my full attention toward California by exploring all that it has to offer. My goal is to inspire you to get out there and explore this amazing state. Please follow my adventures and news content by visiting Calexplornia daily or clicking on one of my Social Media accounts below.

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