There is so much diversity out there, (even if you stay local) so it's a shame to do the same routes over and over. So when we were discussing where to go yesterday in Bowles's fashion, (in the car on the way up the hill) our #1 goal was to avoid the Labor Day holiday crowds. Last year on this weekend we recalled doing the Horse Canyon trail on HWY 88. Amazingly, we only saw a few others on that hike so decided to try a different trail off 88 and avoid Tahoe altogether.
Since it was supposed to be extremely hot and very poor air quality, we chose the Emigrant Lake hike which is relatively flat, (only 800' elevation gain) rationalizing that we wouldn't be straining and therefore bad air wouldn't be getting deep into our lungs. It's also a wooded path mostly along Caples Lake so should have lots of shade and therefore much cooler that an above tree line route.
The trail head is at the west corner of Caples Lake and follows the lake for about 2 miles before beginning a very gradual ascent to Emigrant Lake. What we loved most was that we were traveling along water for most of the way whether it was Caples Lake or Emigrant Creek.
We were also surprisingly rewarded with lots of wildflowers as we began to climb despite that it is already September! There were green meadows and upon our approach to the lake, we were amazed to see how much snow still remained.
We were hit with some afternoon showers, but nothing too treacherous. It was a coolish 67 degrees when we returned to our car. No complaining from us as it was a simmering 109 degrees when we pulled into our driveway at 4:30! All in all, it was the perfect way to spend the day!
Stats: 8.6 miles round trip. 800' elevation gain. Difficulty - Moderate. Fun scale - 10!