When researching things to do in South Lake Tahoe, I kept coming across the recommendation to visit Fallen Leaf Lake. So on the way back to the hotel from kayaking to Fannette Island, I decided to drive up and see the lake and Glen Alpine Falls, which is on the south end. This waterfall is a beautiful spot to visit in Tahoe, and since there is no hiking required, it is an excellent spot for families. Here is all the information.
- One lane road, so you have to pull over for people often. It takes about 20 minutes to get there from the main highway
- No real trail to the falls it is just right where you park
- I visited in 2015 and 2018
The road to Fallen Leaf Lake is signed and is right off Highway 89, south of Emerald Bay. As soon as you turn onto it though, be prepared for slow going. The road is only 1.5 lanes max, so when anyone is coming from the other way, you will need to pull out. That being said, when you make it to the lake, you will be ok with pulling over as the views are incredibly beautiful.
The road will go about a mile before it passes a campground. From here it is another 2 miles or so to the lake. When you get to the lake, you will be driving along it and will see massive mansions on both sides of you. This must be a popular spot in Tahoe to live as these houses were crazy.
The road continues to wind around until you reach the back of the lake and a small fire station. From here, you will see a sign that points you towards the falls, and it is probably about a quarter-mile up the hill till you see small dirt parking areas for the waterfall.
I was able to get parking in this area as it was not too busy and walked the 2 minute walk to the falls. Glen Alpine Falls is a large and wide waterfall. It cascades down about 80 feet over multiple rocks and outcroppings till it flows into the river below.
There is an overlook point that you can sit at and watch the water flow down, or if you are adventurous, then you can scramble down the small rocks to the water below.
I took a bunch of pictures at the overlook then walked down to the base of the falls for more photos. There was a clear path that was used for this, and it was relatively easy to scramble down.
I have seen pictures of this waterfall at other times, and it was flowing a lot more than it was when I was there, thanks to the California drought. That being said, it was still a beautiful spot that I enjoyed seeing.
Since the flow wasn’t too crazy at the moment, I was able to get up close to the falls and mess with a few slow shutter photos, which is always fun to play around with.
All in all, this is an easy waterfall to get to as long as you are patient with the drive, and it is well worth the adventure to see something like this with little effort. Be sure to check it out when you are in South Lake Tahoe and let me know what other suggestions you have for the area below. You can see all of the waterfalls I have visited in California here.