Most Tahoe fans know Cascade Falls’ silvery drop as it appears in early summer, when melting snow forms a billowy cataract that plummets more than 200 feet into Cascade Lake. But in winter, Cascade Falls gets a makeover. On cold-snap mornings, its frosty plunge appears frozen in place, suspended above a polished granite cliff until the warmer days of spring. The gently graded Cascade Falls Trail (2 miles round-trip) is easy enough for beginners. You’ll trek through open, sparse forest first, before an exposed second half that skirts the mountainside (use caution near the steep drop-offs; poles are useful). If you get back to the trailhead and still have energy to burn, take the opposite fork, signed for Granite Lake. A mercilessly steep first mile requires digging in with your snowshoes’ forefoot claws, but your work is rewarded at a high point with picture-postcard views of Emerald Bay. Catch your breath, then continue onward to intimate Granite Lake, nestled below Maggie’s Peaks.
The trailhead is at Bayview Campground on Hwy. 89 (map); the trail sign is at the back of the camp. Dog-friendly!