Hike to Marlette Lake is Worth the Effort

Marlette Lake

Located high above Lake Tahoe, Marlette Lake is the picture of alpine lake beauty. Tall pines grow to the edge of the lake’s crystal waters, which reflect the rich, blue hues of the sky.

The lake is an extremely popular mountain-biking and hiking destination. In the 1970s, the dirt road leading to the lake and the path of an old box flume, which runs to Incline Village, was developed into one of the region’s first official mountain bike trails–the famous Lake Tahoe Flume Trail.

Bikers, however, aren’t the only folks welcome to visit Marlette. The main trail leading to the lake is also popular with day hikers.

Recently, we decided to hike the Marlette Lake Trail, which we accessed at Spooner Lake, part of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. After parking in one of the lots at the park (which is about ten miles west of Carson City via U.S. 50 and State Route 28), we easily found the signs leading to the trail.

The trail was fairly level for the first half-mile on North Canyon Road as we walked beside a picturesque meadow and into a forest of firs and pines. Within a short time, we passed a wooden park service cabin (to the left) and began climbing into the aspens.

Along the way, we crossed several small creeks, which made the road muddy in places as well as lots of beautiful wildflowers. The hike was moderately steep, mostly pleasant and largely shaded as we continued to climb higher (the 4.6 mile-long trail took us from 6,950 feet to 8,157 feet).

At the halfway point, we reached a fork in the road. To the right, we could hike about a mile (almost straight up the side of the mountain) to Snow Valley Peak, part of the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail. To the left was the path to Marlette Lake.

Since our destination was Marlette, we stuck to the main trail. Soon, we were walking parallel to a large meadow, which led to the bottom of a fairly steep incline that served as the final obstacle to reaching Marlette.

Mountain bikers know this final hill because of its steepness–and we saw many walking their bikes to the top. While it was only about a quarter of a mile or so long, the hill seemed much longer when we were climbing it.

At the top, we were rewarded with our first glimpses of marvelous Marlette Lake, which is another half-mile downhill. The walk to the lake through the trees was remarkably quick.

At lake level, we found plenty of spots for picnicking as well as places to just sit and enjoy the magnificent scenery.

While we weren’t going to be riding the Flume Trail, which begins at Marlette Lake, we saw a handful of bikers head to the trailhead at the southern end of the lake. They crossed a small bridge and began the descent on the narrow trail leading down to Incline Village.

It looked like fun.—-Richard Moreno

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