Best Wildflower Hikes Lake Tahoe

Photo by Joel Holland | Unsplash

May kicks off the snowmelt, a time when Lake Tahoe begins to showcase the most amazing wildflower hikes throughout its many mountains and meadows. Sprinkled among the Alpine terrain, you will find an array of colors from deep purples to red, orange and bright yellows. In lower elevations, the flowers begin to bloom in mid May, while higher elevations retain the snow, allowing the wildflower season to extend into late July.

Hiking in the higher altitude of Lake Tahoe means that the air is less dense and hues take on a deeper depth and dimension. Colors become more vibrant and when the wildflowers bloom, the forests and meadows showcase a brilliant display of color. If you are looking for the best wildflower hikes at Lake Tahoe, there are many beautiful landscapes to enjoy.

LAKE TAHOE WILD FLOWERS

Lake Tahoe Snow Plant

The first flower to peak through the snow at Lake Tahoe is the Snow Plant. Because it doesn’t have leaves, it draws nutrition from the soil beneath the snow and rises in a conical shaped flower. These red, bulbous flowers belong to the Indian-pipe family, closely related to the Ericaceae, or heath family. The Snow Plant is actually a relative of manzanita, madroño, laurel, and azalea shrubs. The first appearance of these flowers are always a welcoming harbinger of the Wild Flower Season to come.

Mule’s Ear Flower

Once the snow has receded, the landscape turns into a large green carpet of Mule’s Ear leaves. This species proliferates among the hillsides and meadows in large, spade-shaped, and green leaves. They produce yellow flowers that resemble large daisies, and offer an explosion of color that is breathtaking. You can find them in June and they last throughout the summer. Mule’s Ear thrives among the sagebrush, and can be found in both the meadows and at higher elevations.

Paint Brush

Sprinkled among the forest floors and meadows of Lake Tahoe, the Paint Brush flower can range in color from vibrant pink to orange. The color has a hue that is almost fuzzy, as if electric or energetic. At the top of this plant, the tubular spurs are actually green leaves that have changed color. Because of their delicate appearance and the soft, rich color they provide, they resemble a brush with tips that appear to be dipped in color. The Paint Brush Flower arrives in mid June and continues to bloom into the end of July.

Lupine

The most gorgeous flower to arrive with the onset of summer is the Lupine that can be found in white, pink or purple coloring. Also called the Wolf Flower, the word Lupine derives from Lupus, the Latin word for wolf. It is actually from the legume family and has pea-shaped flowers growing on stalks that can reach 3 to 4 feet in height. Large carpets of Lupine can be found in early June near the shores of Lake Tahoe. Individual Lupine flowers will spring up in June or July under the forest canopy and on the hillsides. Resembling Delphinium or Larkspur, Lupine is nature’s version of a truly spectacular wild flower.

Lake Tahoe’s Best Wildflower Hikes

Paige Meadows

On the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, adjacent to the neighborhoods of Twin Peaks Estates, Talmont and Alpine Peaks, Page Meadows offers a circular hiking path that encompasses 5 kilometers. During the summer, parking is permitted on the streets in these neighborhoods and there are multiple entrances into the hiking trails.

In the center, you will find a large meadow of wildflowers lining the spring pools that last late into July. This area is lightly trafficked and is perfect for hiking or biking. Dogs are allowed on these trails and the entire area is surrounded by forests that also will feature Columbine flowers and even a wild version of the White Lily. This is an excellent hike to see how many flower species you can find. Paige Meadows is perhaps Lake Tahoe’s best wildflower hike during late May into mid July.

Galena Waterfall and Mount Rose

From Incline Village, turn onto the Mount Rose Highway or State Route 431 toward Reno. After approximately 4 miles, you will find the top of the Mount Rose meadow area, with parking on the left side. The hike offers a waterfall, incredible views and wildflowers.  The trail that lead to Galena Falls, allows you to find wildflowers, visible within the first mile. The trail and the flowers will continue to lead you another 1 ½ miles to the Falls.

Lake Forest Beach

Driving toward Tahoe City from Incline Village, Lake Forest Beach is located on a road that loops toward the lake to your left. This is the most amazing place to see large groupings of Lupines, near the shore of Lake Tahoe. Follow directions to Skylandia State Park, where dogs can also play in the water. Look for Bristlecone Street to park near Lake Forest Beach. The endless Lupine fields are a photographers dream, so bring a camera!

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There are many properties that are now coming onto the market that are not visible on internet websites. Contact me today for more information about available and 'coming soon' homes and condos for sale in Incline Village.