Story & photos by Katherine E. Hill ·
Eagle Rock is a popular hike with panoramic views of the region from the top.
Location: West Shore
Total distance: 1 mile
A volcanic plug towering above Lake Tahoe’s West Shore, this quick hike offers panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra.
This short hike on the 1,800-foot-long trail climbs 250 feet offering nearly instant gratification from the roadside parking lot to the soaring heights of Eagle Rock.
Eagle Rock is a delicate ecosystem.
You’ll emerge at the top in about 20 minutes and be treated to lichen-covered rocks, wildflowers and spectacular 360-degree views of the Lake Tahoe Basin – the Carson Range directly across the Lake, Desolation Wilderness to the south and Blackwood Canyon behind you. Watch your footing on top of the rock, which is pocked with crevices every few feet.
Eagle Rock is a volcanic plug, meaning it plugged up the surrounding volcano like a cork in Tahoe’s distant past; a geological feature that provides spectacular views for today’s visitors. Pack a picnic and enjoy a meal against the amazing backdrop of Lake Tahoe. Or, plan a full moon outing to Eagle Rock for spectacular night views.
Hikers may reach the top of Eagle Rock in about 20 minutes.
Views of the Carson Range towering above Lake Tahoe’s East Shore.
Eagle Rock was once part of the ancestral lands of the Washoe, and, according to legends retold by several sources, it is tied to a tragic love story.
The Washoe Chief Big Eagle was said to have summered along Lake Tahoe under the gaze of Eagle Rock, and each morning he would climb to the top of Eagle Rock with his bow and arrow to hunt for deer as they came to the lake below to drink. Meanwhile, his wife, Gentle Doe, would catch fish each morning in the lake.
On one fateful morning, Big Eagle accidently shot Gentle Doe as she moved through the trees below. Big Eagle let out an agonizing scream and frantically climbed to the bottom to find his wife dead. It is said that for many years after Gentle Doe’s death, other members of the tribe would see a large eagle (now presumably Big Eagle) perched on the edge of Eagle Rock at dawn letting out a wild, mournful cry.
The Legend of Eagle Rock and other local tales and sights on the West Shore are part of a charming book by Jill Beede, “Tahoe’s Magical West Shore,” that was published in 2001. It’s a great book to add to your collection, if you can find a copy.
Golden-hued lichen covers much of the volcanic rock atop Eagle Rock.
From Tahoe City, travel about 5 miles south on Highway 89. There’s a dirt area for parking along the west side of the road just past the rock. The trailhead starts next to the parking area.