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Placer County, California

Placer County, California is a top destination for outdoor adventures. The best trails and outdoor activities are plentiful here. One must-visit is the Stevens Trail, a scenic 9-mile round trip hike that offers stunning views of the American River Canyon. The trail is moderately difficult with steep inclines and rocky terrain, but the sight of the river, waterfalls, and wildflowers make it worth the effort. For those interested in rock formations, the Donner Summit Canyon trail is a great choice. It features intriguing granite formations and views of Donner Lake. If you're up for a challenge, the 6.9-mile round trip hike to Shirley Canyon is a must. You'll pass by rushing streams, waterfalls, and have a panoramic view of Squaw Valley. Remember to pack a picnic to enjoy by the lake! These are just a few of the best outdoor activities in Placer County, California.

Top Spots in and near Placer County

  • Soda Springs, California

    Hike to the Peter Benson Hut

    5.0
    11.6 mi / 1800 ft gain
    Drive to the top of Donner Summit via the Old Hwy 40 and park at the Donner Summit PCT trailhead, just past the Sugar Bowl Academy Building. Begin hiking up-hill through a somewhat forested area for about 2 miles. Shortly after you pass the trail sign for the Mt. Judah Loop, you will come to a sm...
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  • South Lake Tahoe, California

    Photograph Lake Tahoe’s Inspiration Point

    4.7
    Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay is a national natural landmark and is one of the prettiest parts of the lake.  Inspiration Point is located along route 89 on the Southwest side of Tahoe about 10 miles from South Lake Tahoe or about 33 miles South from Truckee.  It is very easy to get to, and its high va...
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  • Truckee, California

    Donner Lake Public Docks

    4.5
    In the northwest corner of Donner Lake, there are public docks run by the Truckee Donner Recreation & Parks district. It's free to lay out your towels and hang out, but there is a fee for launching boats on the ramp. Come over in the late afternoon, enjoy the sunset, and go for a swim as the ...
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  • South Lake Tahoe, California

    Camp at Bayview Campground

    5.0
    Bayview is a first come, first serve campground in South Lake Tahoe, halfway between Emerald Bay and Cascade Lake. You can catch an amazing sunrise over Emerald Bay! Large pine trees provide ample shade, and each site is equipped with a picnic table, grill, and bear boxes. Bring plenty of water -...
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  • South Lake Tahoe, California

    Maggie's Peaks

    5.0
    3.85 mi / 1663 ft gain
    This hike starts from the Bayviews Campground Trailhead. This day use area is usually pretty crowded so arrive early to get a parking spot. There is parking a quarter of a mile into the campground near the trail head, but if there is no room there is overflow parking just outside of the camping a...
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  • South Lake Tahoe, California

    Cascade Falls

    4.8
    1.32 mi / 98 ft gain
    Starting out at the Bayview Trailhead you will make your way out through the campground towards the trail. Once you find the trail it is a simple way to the falls. It starts out as a wide trail and winds through the pine and fir trees. You will come to some stone steps as the trail narrows for th...
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  • South Lake Tahoe, California

    Backpack to Eagle Lake and Dick's Lake

    4.5
    13 mi / 1500 ft gain
    Get ready to get your lake on! This backpacking trip will take you 13+ miles through awesome scenery to several alpine lakes.Starting at the Bayview Campground, off of HWY 89, this hike follows the Granite Lake Trail along a difficult climb. Don't let the climb discourage you! As you climb, the v...
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  • South Lake Tahoe, California

    Hike to Snow Lake in Desolation Wilderness

    5.0
    5 mi
    This wonderful alpine lake is a relatively short hike in Desolation Wilderness and is a perfect introduction to off trail exploration. This area lacks the crowds that other lakes in Desolation garner because most maps don't show the trail leading to the lake. Although there is a rough trail, the ...
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  • South Lake Tahoe, California

    Lower, Middle, and Upper Velma Lakes

    3.0
    10.14 mi / 2316 ft gain
    The hike starts at Bayview Trailhead (Latitude: 38.938619 | Longitude: -120.14197). A wooden sign points right to "Desolation" and left to Cascade Falls. Follow the sign towards Desolation. The first 3/4 mile is comprised of switch-backs that lead to a high point with a spectacular view of Lake T...
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  • South Lake Tahoe, California

    Swim in Granite Lake

    5.0
    1.25 mi / 900 ft gain
    Granite Lake is a pristine alpine lake near Lake Tahoe just off the Highway 89 above Emerald Bay. To get there park at the Bayview Campground Trailhead, which can be pretty crowded in peak season so get there early. The trail begins with an split: right takes you into the Desolation Wilderness (a...
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  • Tahoe City, California

    Purple Trail and Burton Creek Loop

    3.76 mi / 492 ft gain
    Burton Creek State Park is a moderate hike. It is a secluded peaceful hike that offers amazing views of the lake. This is a popular spot for mountain bikers, but is also ideal for hiking.  Much of the trail is through the forest and there are many maps and signs pointing out the trails. The hike ...
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  • 39.333252,-120.289482

    Donner Lake Rim Trail: Johnson Canyon to Trout Creek

    A perfect Sunday hike on your way back from a weekend at Lake Tahoe. Exit I-80 at Donner Lake and take the dirt road on the north side of I-80 to a large parking lot. A mild climb followed by a set of tougher switchbacks leads you to great views from Donner Ridge. Although adventuring out on t...
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  • Tahoe City, California

    Photograph the Lupine at Lake Forest Beach

    A quick walk through Lake Forest Beach in Tahoe City, California provides unparalleled opportunities to photograph expansive fields of lupine. These brilliant purple wildflowers cover the lowland shore of this public beach each summer, typically starting in mid-July through mid-August. In drought...
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  • South Lake Tahoe, California

    Explore Lake Tahoe's Vikingsholm Castle

    4.0
    The drive to the location of Vikingsholm was beautiful with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay, when approached from South Lake Tahoe. The hike down the hill to see this gem was worth it but could be hard for some (because the only return is up this somewhat steep path with switchbac...
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  • Truckee, California

    China Cove Loop at Donner Lake

    4.6
    3.11 mi
    This is a casual hike in an area with a ton of history. Stop by the museum before or after your hike to learn about the Donner Party, the Transcontinental Railroad, and local Native Americans Park at the Donner Lake and Memorial State Park Visitor Center and walk west towards the lake. Cross the...
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  • Colfax, California

    Hike to the Jumping Rock on the Bear River

    2 mi / 150 ft gain
    Though lesser known than its neighbors the Yuba and the American, the Bear River still features fantastic hiking, swimming, river-raft, tubing, and rock-jumping but without the crowds.A local favorite spot, the "Jumping Rock" near the Dog Bar Crossing, provides an excellent hike with several swim...
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