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Hiking & Walking: California > Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

Quick Facts

Big Meadows Trail to Dardanelles Lake

Beginning Elevation: 7,200 Feet (2244.4 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 560 Feet (174.6 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 7,760 Feet (2419.0 Meters)
Length, One-way: 3.5 Miles (5.83 Kilometers)

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This trail is located south of Lake Tahoe. Aspen and alder trees along the trail make this an exceptionally scenic hike during the fall. The first half mile of this trail climbs steeply from the highway through Jeffrey pine and white fir to Big Meadow. When the trail forks approximately 1.5 miles past Big Meadow, take the right fork. In less than a quarter mile, take the unmarked trail to your left which crosses the creek. The trail winds through rolling hills and past willows before crossing two more streams. Look for the giant seven foot in diameter juniper along the way. A short climb up a small hill leads you to Dardanelles Lake, surrounded by picturesque granite cliffs on one side and flat granite shelves on the other.

Directions from South Lake Tahoe: Take Highway 50 southwest to Highway 89. Go south on 89 to the Big Meadows parking lot on the left. Follow the trail at the lower end of the parking lot approximately 200 yards, where it intersects with the highway. Cross the highway cautiously and look for the trailhead signboard.

Seasonal Information:
Recommended Season: Spring through Fall .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Hiking & Walking Big Meadows Trail to Dardanelles Lake
ICON Lakes & Reservoirs Dardanelles Lake
ICON Viewing Scenery This trail is exceptionally scenic in the fall when the leaves turn yellow.
ICON Viewing Wildlife Lake Tahoe Basin

Related Activities
Big Meadows Trail to Round Lake - This trail, south of Lake Tahoe, leads past Big Meadow to Round Lake. The lake is a good spot for fishing or swimming.

Big Meadows Trail to Scotts Lake - This trail is located south of Lake Tahoe. It begins along the Big Meadows Trail and then forks off to Scotts Lake.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, 870 Emerald Bay Road, Suite 1 , South Lake Tahoe, CA, 96150, Phone: 530-573-2674


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