Finding Magic on Eagle Rock

Michelle and a reluctant Anikin Allen from atop Eagle Rock with views of Lake Tahoe

For centuries people have been drawn to the magic of Lake Tahoe. The dramatic view of lofty mountain peaks, the majestic alpine forest and crystalline water have moved and inspired generations. One of the best and quickest ways to experience that magic is from the top of Eagle Rock.

Located on Highway 89 on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, the Eagle Rock trail is a short 0.7 miles and is an easy-to-moderate hike. The trail has a rocky section at the top and may require a little extra effort, especially if hiking with young kids.

My son Anikin had been to Eagle Rock once in a pack on my back when he was age 2. Since then, he had seen it from our boat on the lake. It seemed odd to him that people were standing on top of this rock. What was the big deal?

Little did he know that it is one of the best spots for spectacular panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area. Anikin had to see it for himself and he would appreciate the magic, too — or so I thought.

Anikin had no interest in seeing the magic. The complaints were often and numerous from our little hiker and he made it clear he was not happy. Bribes of ice cream afterward were rejected but this behavior was not new. My sister Kat and I agonizingly persuaded him out of the car and onto the trail.

Eagle Rock

We found a convenient parking spot in the dirt lot right off of the highway next to the trailhead. The trail slowly climbs through the forest at an easy grade on a well-defined dirt path. Within the first few minutes, Anikin asked at least five times how much longer it was going to be. He wanted to know the exact time it would take for us to get back to the car. We told him that it was a short 20-minute hike to the top. It would probably have taken me or my sister 15 minutes, but we knew the pace of a reluctant 6-year-old was much slower than our own.

We coerced our resistant companion to continue as we ascended the backside of Eagle Rock. Fragrant wildflowers were growing beside the trail and we heard the calls of several types of birds from the trees.

We stopped for the 10th time to let Anikin rest. Evidently, the two-tenths of a mile we had traveled exhausted him. While we waited, a family with a 4-year-old walked by and the young hiker looked energetic and was walking at a steady pace. Kat pointed this out to Anikin and he made a dissatisfied grunt before getting up and heading up the trail.

The trail continued around the north side of the rock and the landscape started to unfold around us. We were welcomed by panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada, the Carson Range and Desolation Wilderness. It is no wonder this volcanic rock was sacred to the Washoe and part of their ancestral lands; they performed rituals on Eagle Rock and told legends of the tragic love story of Big Eagle.

The view of Eagle Rock from a boat on Lake Tahoe

I tried to talk to Anikin and encourage him to enjoy the view but he was still being Mr. Grumpy Pants. We forced him to take pictures, but his sour expression persisted. He slinked away to the shade of some large rocks nearby to play a game on my phone while Kat and I enjoyed the view. I took a few minutes to savor the beauty and be grateful for this amazing place that we call home.

Right before we headed back down, we heard the cry of an eagle or falcon. We reasoned it might be a peregrine falcon since we know the rock is a nesting ground. Anikin seemed oblivious and could care less when I mentioned it. Bored to tears, literally, he was elated when we told him it was time to go.

Later that night as I put Anikin to bed, he asked me what the name of the bird was we heard when we were on Eagle Rock. I told him and kissed him goodnight as I thought to myself: Magic, baby.