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7.15.16 ... Eagle Falls/Eagle Lake/Vikingsholm

Hike Details:
  • Elevation - low approx. 6,250 ft. - high of 7,000 ft.
  • Location - Emerald Bay State Park
  • Mileage - 4-5 miles
  • Hiking time - 3 hours
  • Route -We parked in the Emerald Bay State Park parking lot (fee area) on Highway 89, then walked back to the Eagle Falls trailhead. Just follow the signs to Eagle Falls and then on to Eagle Lake. Permits for the Desolation Wilderness are at the trailhead, make sure to fill one out. After coming back to the trailhead, we headed down the trail to the Vikingsholm Castle and then back up again. If I were to do this over again, I'd recommend starting by going down to Vikingsholm, then hiking back up and then over and up to Eagle Lake and then back down to the parking lot. Ending a hike with an uphill slog is slightly less fun.
  • Weather - Cool in the morning, but it started getting pretty warm by the time we finished around noon.

I haven't had time to do much hiking yet this summer but I finally have some on the calendar and wanted to drag my two boys with me on at least one of them.
   They were good sports, especially since it involved getting up before 7am to hit the road so that we could get a parking spot at the trailhead. They probably didn't believe me, but they found out I was right when we came back from the hike to find a packed parking lot and cars parked all along the road. The early bird gets the parking spot!

First stop before we ever even started the hike was the lookout right along the road at lower Eagle Falls. Oh, man, yet another hike where pictures just really don't do justice to the beauty and spectacular scenery of this hike! Seriously, I could have just sat here all day and soaked in the view.
This is the lower part of Eagle Falls with Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe in the distance.
My kids have learned to live with the fact that they just have to have their picture taken. :)
 "Stairway to Heaven" -- this is early on in the trail to Eagle Falls. I'm always amazed at the work that must have gone into making these kind of stone steps. Thank you, tough trail builders!
 It doesn't take long to get to the bridge over the upper Eagle Falls. There's a nice little area where you can climb on the rocks and dip your feet in the water.

 And then maybe only another mile to get to Eagle Lake. Such a beautiful lake with mountains circling all around. And that crystal clear water is amazing. And cold!
 Cairns! I love cairns! Spencer decided to add his building talent to this one. He restacked it so it was perfectly balanced as it got smaller and smaller. He was proud of his handiwork!

 After coming back down from the Eagle Lake trail, we walked back to the parking lot and descended down the trail headed to Vikingsholm "Castle", a cool old mansion built in the style of Swedish stone castles. The boys were already hungry and hot, but I coerced them into "just one more little trail". Going down was easy, but of course, what goes down must come up. It's not so fun to go uphill at the end of a hiking day, but they survived and I promised them a nice big lunch.
If I were to hike down to Vikingsholm again, I'd probably plan for a picnic lunch on the beach and maybe rent kayaks to paddle around Emerald Bay. Otherwise, it's not a hiking trail that's very interesting. But the trail up to Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake is awesome. And I'd like to go back there again and go even farther, maybe as far as Velma Lakes which I've heard are gorgeous.