The Big Meadow Trailhead to Big Meadow - South Shore trail on the Tahoe Rim Trail is a great option when you're looking to spend a relaxing afternoon rambling, picnicking, and smelling wildflowers with your pup. Bring a camera, a book, and your dog's favorite toy, and you've got your day made. You don't have to walk far to enjoy a stunning range of sights in this botanical wonderland.
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.
Head south on the Tahoe Rim Trail to begin your hike. You'll need to cross Highway 89 to follow the trail. Keep your dog well controlled on the leash as you carefully cross. Continue a little over a half mile to the south to reach the open meadow. On your way, you'll walk through dense coniferous forest and pass by aspen groves along boulder-laden streams. The initial climb is a little steep, but you and your dog will have barely started panting before the trail evens out and opens up.
After passing Big Meadow Creek, continue just a bit further to reach a trail junction. Be sure to stay on the Tahoe Rim Trail to get to Big Meadow. Though if you're feeling frisky and want to extend your hike, the 2.7-mile out-and-back Scotts Lake Trail that branches east is a great option. Another great option for a longer hike is to continue on the Tahoe Rim Trail for a little more than two miles past the meadow to reach Round Lake. The 6.5-mile round-trip hike will treat you to views of a waterfall spilling from the high mountain lake and even more wildflowers.
Either option will add to the already enchanting sights you've seen, but the wildflowers on the shorter hike to Big Meadow are more than enough to fill your heart with beauty. Flowers you might see here include fiery crimson columbine, purple penstemon, and fluffy white American bistort. You might also spot some more unusual plants and fungi, like the mycotropic candystick plant, feathery red snow plants, and the aptly named orange peel mushroom. There's so much to see and to sniff here! You and your pup will relish the day you spent exploring this beautiful place.