Brockway Summit to Watson Lake-Tahoe Rim Trail - Trail Running

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The Tahoe Rim Trail offers steep climbs and one of a kind views for trail runners.

Written by

Jill Sanford


13.4 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

11.4 miles


5 of 5 diamonds

Challenging terrain, steep climbs and the elevation make trail running along the Tahoe Rim Trail very difficult.

Time To Complete

2 hours

Depending on your pace, this run could take up to 3 hours. Budget more time than you would for the same distance on an even trail.


Spring, Summer, and Winter

This is a great hike for warm summer days because of the shade on the trail and breezes coming off the lake far below.

Dog Friendly




The expansive Tahoe Rim Trail is best enjoyed one section at a time, and one of the most breathtaking runs on the north side of the lake is Brockway Summit to Watson Lake, a steady 6.7 mile climb. Amazing overlooks of the deep blue lake, crystal clear streams, and fields of wildflowers in early summer make this a trail run you do not want to miss.  

What Makes It Great

The 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) crosses six counties and two states, offering vistas of the world famous Lake Tahoe from all of its surrounding peaks. The TRT is popular for trail running and ultramarathons, and features steep and challenging terrain. Windswept views and beautiful conifers reward the brave and hearty who take on the trail, however. Brockway Summit to Watson Lake is a great 13.4 mile round trip run or an almost 7-mile jaunt if you are able to leave a car at the turn around point. 

Start your run at the Brockway Summit Trailhead . The trail starts of with a bang challenging you with three miles uphill through pine and fir trees followed by a refreshing two down.  You can’t miss spectacular glimpses of Lake Tahoe through the trees as you climb. You will also cross several forest service roads through this section—keep a careful eye out for the actual trail each time you pass these to make sure you don’t lose your way. The remaining miles go back up, but take you through fields of wildflowers and more forested areas. You will arrive at Watson Lake after passing several streams. This can either be your halfway point or you can call it a day here. 

Who is Going to Love It

Runners experienced with steep terrain and high elevations are going to fall in love with the Tahoe Rim Trail. Anyone looking to challenge themselves will find this to be a great workout and will come back to the TRT again and again looking for more. Those less familiar with the sport of trail running might want to stick to hiking this route, as it is open to mountain bikers and backpackers as well. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

To Brockway Summit: 

From Highway 267, park on the south side of the road about a half of a mile below the summit. You will see a trailhead on across the road going uphill. About 25 feet up from the road you will see a trail map and information about the Tahoe Rim Trail.

To Watson Lake: 

Traveling south on Highway 267, take the first right once you pass an elevation sign at the summit. It will be an unmarked, narrow paved road. Turn left when you reach a sign that says Watson Lake and follow it until you see the lake. The trailhead will be on the left. 

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