Chimney Beach Trail

I almost didn’t even want to include this as a “hike”, it’s more of “beach access”, but there is some walking and terrain involved.  There are actually two ways to get to this beach, and the description here will be for what I think is the most scenic (and direct) of the two.

  • Trailhead: Forest Service parking lot .25 miles south of Thunderbird Lodge, on the west side of Highway 28.  Alternate, more obvious parking lot an additional .25 miles south.  – Open in Google Maps.
  • Length: .7 miles round trip; 30 minutes.
  • Difficulty: Easy.
  • Usage: Hikers and dogs.  Free.
  • Best Time for Photography: Just about any time.  You’ll be shooting into the sun if you’re shooting across the lake in late afternoon/evening, but the following sunsets are amazing.
  • Are Drones Allowed: Yes.
  • Trail Info Current: May 20, 2015
  • Go back to Lake Tahoe Hikes map

Plots created using digital topographic map data, not actual GPS logs. Distance and elevation profiles are approximate.

Chimney Beach

Chimney Beach Trail Narrative

Parking can be a bear during the summer, especially on weekends.  There are a few choices, but if both lots are full you’ll have to park on the highway where it’s allowed, and that will require a bit of a walk on the highway to the trailhead.  The trailhead that I prefer is signed for National Forest parking, on the opposite side of the highway from the lake.  It’s in between the Thunderbird Lodge and the circular parking lot on the lake side of the highway.  The trailhead is signed for Chimney Beach.

chimney beach hike

The trail to Chimney Beach from the Forest Service parking lot parallels Marlette Creek

The trail has a very pleasing grade to it, both on the way down and back up.  You’ll be walking through a forested area on the side of a ravine, and you can hear the sounds of Marlette Creek running down to the lake as you walk parallel to it.

chimney beach boulders

Stacks of boulders common on the east shore of Lake Tahoe.

It’s just over a quarter of a mile to the beach; you can either turn right or left when you get there.  Turning left will take you along a path that extends for quite a ways south, and it eventually winds up to the main circular alternate parking lot.  This path offers many chances for you to scramble down some boulders and find your own private “mini-cove” in between the tall rocks.

chimney beach

On the south end of Chimney Beach, looking north from the trail that parallels the beach.

Turning right at the end of the main trail will take you down to Marlette Creek, across a bridge, and to the beach where you’ll find Chimney Beach’s namesake.

chimney beach

Virga (rain that evaporates before hitting the ground) on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, from Chimney Beach.

Tips for the Chimney Beach Trail

  • No camping or fires are allowed at this beach.
  • Get to the parking area (both of them) early during the weekends!
chimney beach

The clear waters of Chimney Beach, looking towards storms at south Lake Tahoe.

Corrections, suggestions, or questions?  Please leave a comment below!

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