An easy 1.5 mile hike to the top of a dormant volcano that hosts bird’s-eye views that blanket the entirety of Lake Tahoe? Sure thing: Eagle Rock. If you’ve only got a half an hour to an hour to whip out an unforgettable Tahoe experience, or if you don’t feel like sweating much but long for an uncrowded viewpoint, ascend this sleepy volcano that rests on the side of west shore’s Highway 89, about 5 miles south of Tahoe City.
As your car full of family and friends drop jaws at the highway’s mere lakeside views, you may, in your scanning sights, notice tiny people standing atop a craggy rock formation that hovers almost the length of a football field over the road. How the heck did they get up there? No, they aren’t rock climbers on the brink of insanity who made their ways to the top along cliff sides. They are regular people, just like you and me. They parked at the trailhead on the side of the highway, gradually ascended a well-marked path for 1,800 feet until they reached the peak they roam--some without even breaking a sweat.
The soft pine needle pathway winds into mild-sloping traverses and rocky stairways, bordered by pines wrapped in south-facing lichen. Along the way, admire stout red willow trees and a few strains of manzanita with bark like freshly brewed coffee. The treeline reveals views of mountains with snow still saddled into chutes. As you inch your way towards the top, begin to stride (or crawl) over rocks and, being closer to the ground, notice blossom clusters on shrubs that look like miniature ornaments.
Stand tall with the birds as the view comes into sight: the north, east, and south shores of our cerulean blue lake. In this moment, you pay particular attention to the ripples and currents and changes in tide--something you don’t remember ever doing before. You hesitate to turn away, but must to avoid catching vertigo. Your eyes find closer candy to keep you on your feet: a gnarled, fallen tree; canyon crevices; the jutting rocky crags that could be the volcano’s sharp teeth. Say howdy to a local hiker and sit down for a picnic. There’s a lot to take in.