Mt. Tallac Trailhead


[Photo]:  Off-trail hiking into Desolation Wilderness.

Mt. Tallac Trailhead receives high use and is thus well marked. There are three main trails:
1. Floating Island Lake – one-way mileage is 1.7 miles. Difficulty level is easy to moderate.
2. Cathedral Lake – one-way mileage is 2.5 miles. Difficulty level is easy to moderate.
3. Mount Tallac – one-way mileage is 5 miles. Difficulty level is difficult.

photo of Marmot on Mt. Tallac Summit photo of person cresting at the top of Tallac Welcome sign at the Mt. Tallac Trailhead photo of Scarlet Morning Glory photo of Sun Flower

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Winter conditions above 7,000 ft. No wood or charcoal fires, gas appliances OK
Operational Hours: All open during summer and fall.
Area Amenities: Fee charged for some activities,Parking
Fees $5 per person for 1st 2 days for overnight permit.
Permit Info: A wilderness permit is required. Day hikers, pick up your permit at the self serve area at the trailhead. Overnight hikers will need an overnight permit for Desolation Wilderness. This permit must be purchased before you get to the Mt. Tallac Trailhead.
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Best Season: June-September
Restrictions: No campfires allowed.
Closest Towns: South Lake Tahoe
Water: None
Restroom: None
Operated By: Forest Service

General Information

General Notes:

Providing a spectacular view of Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Desolation Wilderness, this strenuous hike is well worth the effort. Weather conditions can change rapidly in the Sierra mountains; bring a jacket, carry lots of water and allow plenty of time for your trip.


These trails are not designed to be handicapped accessible. The first part of the trail to Floating Island and Cathedral Lakes is easy to moderate and can be enjoyed by the novice hiker. Beyond Cathedral Lake, the trail becomes steep and strenuous as it continues up the front face of Mount Tallac.


The trailhead is located approximately 3-1/2 miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89. Look for the Mt. Tallac Trailhead sign directly across from the entrance to Baldwin Beach. Turn left down the dirt road and continue to the trailhead parking.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Parking Allow RV Parking
Fee charged for some activities For Overnight Permit
Areas & Activities



  Area/Length : 
1.7 to 5 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
6480 feet - 9735 feet


Color graphic of the Travel Management logo featuring a drawing of a trail next to stream and trees.

Travel Management: A Program for Motor Vehicle Route Designation

Buy it where you burn it!

Be aware that firewood can harbor insects and diseases that threaten valuable forest resources. Transporting firewood can move these pests to new locations.