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By Tim Hauserman
What Tahoe hike gives you the most bang for your hiking buck? It just might be Eagle Rock. It has one of the best views of Lake Tahoe to be found on any trail and only requires a 15 minute climb to reach the summit. And the trailhead is right off Highway 89. If you only have an hour to spend, you can hike up and back and still have plenty of time to contemplate the view.
The Eagle Rock trailhead is about 4.5 miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89, which is about 1.5 miles north of Homewood. Find a small parking area just to the south of the huge rock that you are about to ascend. The trailhead is just a bit north of the parking area.The route winds its way around the back of the dormant volcanic plug on a smooth trail, before a gentle ascent over jumbled ancient lava brings you to the viewpoint, about 250 feet above Highway 89.
Once you make your way to the edge, a good portion of Lake Tahoe unfolds in front of you, and it is only a few hundred feet away. To the south you see, Homewood Ski Area, Sugar Pine Point and above it the Stony Ridge, including Rubicon Peak and Jakes Peak. Mt. Tallac graces the skyline just a bit further south. To the east sits the Carson Range, where you note little pyramid shaped Genoa Peak and snowcapped Snow Valley Peak. To the north you see Mt. Rose, evidence of the Washoe Fire of 2007, just a few miles away above Sunnyside, and the lush forests of fir and pine of the westshore. To the west, is the deep outline of Blackwood Canyon, the third largest water source leading into Lake Tahoe, and Twin Peaks, marking the border between Blackwood and Ward Canyons.
There is no bad time to head to Eagle Rock, but a sunrise or sunset is an especially good choice. Be sure and bring sturdy hiking shoes, as lava rock on the top is not suitable for flip flops or shoes without support. After you’ve retreated from your hike, check out Blackwood Creek next to the parking area, or follow the bike trail just a few hundred yards north to take a dip in the lake at Kaspian Beach.