Fallen Leaf Lake: A Hidden Gem That You Need to Explore

Known for its crystal-clear water and picturesque mountain views, it’s no surprise that Lake Tahoe attracts so many tourists year after year. However, most visitors don’t know that there is another beautiful lake nearby ⁠— and it’s hidden right in plain sight. Located just a mile southwest of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake is a gorgeous oasis just waiting to be explored. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, then you must plan a visit. Here’s what you’ll discover when you go!

Fallen Leaf Lake is one of many hidden gems in Northern California. Request access to our complimentary Vacation Guide for more great tips about the best things to see and do in the area. It’s full of recommendations to help you plan the ultimate getaway!

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Fallen Leaf Lake: Getting There

Tucked away in the Eldorado National Forest, Fallen Leaf Lake is a Northern California treasure. Spanning nearly 3 acres, this glacial, freshwater lake is much smaller and more secluded than nearby Lake Tahoe. However, this is what makes it so special! With fewer visitors and untouched natural beauty, it’s a prime destination for hiking, swimming, fishing, and more.

You can access the lake from Route 89. Once you turn onto Fallen Leaf Road, park on the shoulder and follow the hiking trails just beyond the campground. After a short, 15-minute walk, you’ll reach the water. Nothing will prepare you for the breathtaking views you’re about to discover! Go for a swim in the cerulean water, keep on hiking, or bring a picnic lunch to enjoy by the shoreline. Once you visit this alpine paradise, it will become your new favorite spot. 

Things to Do at Fallen Leaf Lake

1. Hiking

The hiking trails from the campground to the lake are fairly level and easy to navigate. If you’d like more of a challenge, there are several more difficult trails in the area. One of our favorites is the Floating Island/Mount Tallac Trail. The 6.5-mile trail takes you around several sparkling lakes, over bubbling creeks, and past serene meadows filled with wildflowers. Other popular trails include the Upper Angora Ridge Trail and Angora Ridge to Lookout Trail

2. Water Activities

Besides postcard-perfect views, Fallen Leaf Lake is a great spot for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, rowing, sailing, waterskiing and more. It’s nearly impossible to resist taking a dip in this crystal-clear water! And if you’re looking for watercraft or boat rentals, you’ll find them at Fallen Leaf Lake Marina. They are open from 8:00 a.m. until sunset. Because the road to the marina is narrow and congested, we recommend calling ahead for reservations.

3. Fishing

In addition to hiking trails and water activities, you can go fishing at Fallen Leaf Lake year-round! The lake is supplied with water flowing from the Glen Alpine Creek, which the U.S. Forest Service regularly stocks with several types of fish species. Cast your line for brown trout, rainbow trout, Mackinaw trout, lake trout, and Kokanee Salmon. On any given day, you may spot anglers fishing from the shoreline or trolling the northeastern end of the lake.

4. Visit the Waterfall

After a fun day at the lake, make sure to stop by the Fallen Leaf Lake Waterfall (aka Lower Glen Alpine Falls). This beautiful, cascading waterfall is a must-see, and you can easily drive right to it. To get there, continue driving past the campground. You’ll pass a general store on your right and a fire station on the left. From here, keep your eyes open for a sign directing you uphill toward the falls. Once you reach your destination, you’re rewarded with breathtaking views of the thundering, 75-foot waterfall. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Relax and Unwind at Our Romantic, Northern California Inn

The bed inside the Madrone room at Eden Vale

As an alternative to Northern California hotels, we invite you to stay in our enchanting Placerville bed and breakfast! Rated as one of America’s Top 10 Most Romantic Inns, Eden Vale Inn offers a lodging experience unlike any other. Expect to start every morning right with a delicious full breakfast. Then, after a fun-filled day of adventure, escape to the privacy of your luxurious guest room.

For an unforgettable experience, we recommend booking a stay in our Madrone room. Enjoy a glass of fine Sierra wine while you gaze out at the pond and surrounding Sierra foothills. At night, cozy up next to the fireplace or enjoy a luxurious soak in your private outdoor couple’s tub. The possibilities are endless! Are you ready to start planning your Northern California getaway?

Check our availability and book your stay today. We can’t wait to welcome you!

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