Big Meadow East - South Shore from the Big Meadow Trailhead covers the first 4.4 miles of the 22.6-mile "Kingsbury South Connector to Big Meadow" section of the Tahoe Rim Trail. This high alpine trail offers challenging, but manageable elevation gain along with beautiful views of wildflowers and distant mountain peaks.
Your hike begins at the Big Meadow trailhead. You'll find it just north of California Highway 89, also called Luther Pass Road. At the trailhead, there's a well-maintained paved parking area, trail maps, a bulletin board of updated trail information, a vault toilet, and access to a nearby campground. Note that this trailhead can get busy on weekends.
Start your hike by heading north from the trailhead. For the first two miles, you'll climb up gentle switchbacks through forests of Jeffrey pine and red fir. You and your dog will both enjoy taking in the fresh scents of a wide array of pines on the crisp mountain air. As you ascend, you'll wind through forests of towering old growth
junipers, Ponderosa pine, and giant boulders, past vistas of mountains stretching for miles into the distance. Continue for 4.4 miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail past the intersection with the Grass Lake Trail to reach the intersection with Saxon Creek Trail and the end of this hike and trail section.
If you extend your hike one mile past the intersection with the Saxon Creek Trail, you can end your hike at Freel Meadows. This will extend your total round-trip distance on the Tahoe Rim Trail to eleven miles. The reward for the extra mile each way will be reaching a beautiful place to rest and play before you head back. Freel Meadows is an ideal spot for a picnic or a romp through the wildflower field with your favorite frisky pup. At peak bloom, you'll be surrounded by a rainbow of colors, including splashes of red Indian's paintbrush, yellow mule's ears, orange agoseris, and purple penstemon.
Come here with your pup to climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Whether you bring the words of John Muir with you, there will be poetry in your heart by the time you head back.