Trail Review: Picnic Rock

Dogs at picnic rock
Founder, Trooper, and I at Picnic Rock in June 2020

Looking for a moderate trail with great views of Lake Tahoe? Look no further than Picnic Rock! This hike is perfect for anyone with a moderate fitness level and is one of my top recommendations for visitors to the North Lake Tahoe area.

Length: 3.2 Miles

Elevation Gain: 740 ft.

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate depending on your fitness level

Trail Type: Out and Back

Features: Lake views & unique rock formations

Water on Trail: No

Dogs Allowed? Yes

Trail Details

Your hike begins with a short climb up a two-track road to access the trail head, which is to the left of the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) sign. Note that some hikers choose to drive up this road and park next to the trailhead, which is allowed during certain times of year but only recommended for those with 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Once on the trail, sweeping switchbacks with long traverses guide you gently uphill, away from the highway and the bustle of passing cars. From the start, most of the hike is in the woodlands, providing ample shade and tree-filtered views of the lake. As you climb higher, the trees get denser and the sound of passing vehicles fades.

After about a mile, the trail to the Picnic Rock viewpoint breaks off from the main trail to the left, denoted by a sign that reads Spur Trail. Many hikers miss the left turn and end up continuing on the TRT by mistake, so be sure to have your wits about you around the 1-mile mark. After you make this left-hand turn, another set of switchbacks guide you up to the viewpoint, which is covered in unique rock outcrops. Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra’s. The rock formations are easy to climb upon and are a perfect place for a photo-op or a picnic of course!

After enjoying the views at the top, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Directions & Parking

From King’s Beach, drive 2.7 miles northwest of CA 267 to the Tahoe Rim Trail parking area along the side of the road.

You have two options for parking. The most popular option is to park along the highway where there is space on the side of the road across from the trailhead. Another option, which is available to 4-wheel drive vehicles, is to drive up the short two-track and park directly next to the trailhead.

It’s important to note that this trail gets very busy in the summer months, particularly during the weekend. To avoid the crowds and be sure you get a parking spot, I would recommend starting your hike before 8:00am if attempting on a Saturday or Sunday.

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