The Cascade Falls Trail is a short hike near Emerald Bay in the Lake Tahoe area. The hike starts out of the Bayview Campground, which is across Highway 89 from the Emerald Bay viewpoint. Because of how busy this area is it is highly recommended that you get an early start or you may not be able to find a place to park. After you get a glimpse of Emerald Bay, you'll see why so many people want to see it. However, we're going hiking and that means walking away from the Emerald Bay viewpoint.
Since most people start the hike from somewhere near the Emerald Bay viewpoint, the hike technically starts at the entrance to the Bayview Campground and head to the back of the campground. The trailhead is well marked and starts up a small rise before descending along the side of a steep slope that drops straight into Cascade Lake. The trail soon levels out before heading back uphill toward the falls.
Once you reach the falls you'll want to leave the trail and head toward Cascade Creek. To get to the falls you'll need to do a little rock scrambling. You can get pretty close to the edge but as is always the case when near a drop off, use caution and good judgment. The actual falls are about 150 feet or so high, so their impressive. However, if you're looking for a vertical waterfall, then you've come to the wrong water fall. Cascade Falls is a very steep wall of granite, but it's not vertical. The water pretty much just slides down the walls rather than falls over it. Nevertheless, I like it.
After exploring the falls you may want to head back to the trail and continue on to the south. There is quite a bit of granite behind the falls and all of that granite makes for some pretty spectacular sights. We went back for a distance including some rock climbing until the kids started complaining.
The total distance to the falls is about 1 mile one way. Our trip log was 3.5 miles round trip which included lots of hiking around as the falls and a trip up to the granite mountains behind the falls.
Check out the Official Route.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.