If you are heading up to Lake Tahoe for the weekend you might not have the time for a 15 or 20 mile hike (like the one from Echo Lakes to Desolation Wilderness at 14 miles round trip). You might also not want to deal with the sore muscles and feet afterwards. However, Tahoe does have a nice selection of great hikes that are less than five miles round trip allowing you to get in some more beach time.
Each of these five hikes have some elevation gain and finish with a great view or a lake to have lunch at. Each trail is rated from easy to moderate, but be sure you have good hiking shoes and food and water along.
Eagle Falls to Eagle Lake (2 miles round trip)
This popular hike starts at the top of Emerald Bay at the Eagle Falls trailhead. Get to the trail early to get a parking spot. There is a parking fee. The trail does start with some steep inclines, but it levels out when you get closer to Eagle Lake. There are some fantastic views of Emerald Bay up here as well as the mountains of Desolation Wilderness.
Glen Alpine Trail to Grass Lake (5 miles round trip)
This trail follows Glen Alpine Creek on the other side of Fallen Leaf Lake on the South Shore. You can park at Lilly Lake, where the Glen Alpine Trail begins. On this trail you will pass a waterfall as well as mountain views and alpine forests. This trail is unique in that you will see remnants of a resort from the late 19th century and Soda Spring, a freshwater spring that was used by the resort.
Frog and Winnemucca Lakes (5 miles round trip)
Begin this hike to two lakes from the Carson Pass trailhead off of Hwy. 88 (day fee required) and meander through pine and aspen forest on your way to Frog Lake. On the way to Winnemucca Lake you will walk through a meadow which is a garden of flowers in late spring and summer. You can also see Caples Lake from up here. Winnemucca Lake is at the top of the trail at the base of a large peak. If you don't want to pay the day fee at Carson Pass, park down the road at the Meiss Lake trailhead.
The Mt. Rose Loop portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail (5 miles round trip)
This portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail starts at the Mt Rose trailhead on the North shore. You will hike from high elevation slopes and meadows to a spectacular waterfall. The trail will split on the way to the summit, take the left and follow the signs for the Tahoe Rim Trail. Follow a dirt device road down the hill past lovely views of the lake. As you approach Highway 431, there is a connector trail that will bring you back to the parking area at the trailhead.
Shirley Lake (5 miles round trip)
The hike to this pretty lake in Squaw Valley starts at the end of Squaw Peak Road. The trail follows Squaw Creek, waterfalls and some large boulders. When you are going up to the lake, stay to the left of the creek; on the way down, stay to the right. The trail diverges and disappears at times, but stick to the creek.