Photo of Dardanelles Lake,  El Dorado County, CA

Fishing Dardanelles Lake

El Dorado County

Photo of Dardanelles Lake, El Dorado County, CA

Dardanelles Lake

Dardanelles Lake is a gem of a mountain lake for fishing with numerous rocky points jutting out from the shore, several quiet coves tucked along its long shoreline, and dramatic cliffs rising out of the water. It is situated in the Meiss Country at the headwaters of the Upper Truckee River. The trailhead for Dardanelles Lake is only a twenty minute drive from South Lake Tahoe.

Making Your Way to Dardanelles Lake

To reach Dardanelles Lake from South Lake Tahoe follow Highway 50/89 south toward Echo Summit. Just beyond Myers turn on Highway 89 toward Markleeville and go 5 miles to the Big Meadow trailhead parking lot on the left side. It is several miles from Luther Pass. This well-developed trailhead is part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. The trail to Dardanelles Lake is 3.25 miles and climbs nearly 1000 feet.

In My Creel

  • Mepp's Syclops
  • Bear Valley
  • Super Duper
  • Joe Hopper
  • Royal Coachman
  • Stonefly Nymph

Dardanelles Lake has often been windy when I have visited it. On my most recent trip I brought along an assortment of heavier lures for the main part of the lake and flies for working the quieter inlets.

The trail takes you immediately across the highway to the beginning of the trail to Round Lake. Follow this trail, climbing at first and then passing through Big Meadow before the climb to the top of the ridge. After descending the other side of the ridge watch for a trail junction (2 miles from trailhead). Follow the sign toward Christmas Valley (a small subdivision back along Highway 89). Less than a quarter mile down this trail you will come to the marked junction of the trail to Dardanelles Lake.

Photo of Dardanelles Lake, El Dorado County, CA

Three stream crossings are between you and Dardanelles Lake. In late summer the streams are easily crossed on well-placed rocks. During times of high runoff the crossing may be a problem. Follow the trail down the valley and then make a short climb to Dardanelles Lake.

Accommodations and Supplies

Plentiful lodging is available those fishing Dardanelles Lakes at nearby South Lake Tahoe and Stateline, Nevada. For those who would prefer less hectic accommodations, Sorensons Resort in Hope Valley on Highway 88 is a great place to stay. Camping is available around Lake Tahoe, but it is usually difficult to find an empty site. You will have better luck by crossing Luther Pass to the Carson Pass area. For backpackers, there are numerous sites around Dardanelles Lake. I liked the ones on the southwestern side.

logo saying Up and Over Carson Pass

For complete information about camping and fishing around Hope Valley and the entire Carson Pass area, see Up and Over Carson Pass.

Photo of Dardanelles Lake, El Dorado County, CA

For Echo Summit (Highway 50) fishing, camping, and recreation information (including the Desolation Wilderness), see Discover Echo Summit.

logo saying Discover Echo Summit

Fishing supplies and other necessities can be found easily in Myers and in South Lake Tahoe at the following shops:

Recommended Books for Fishing the Sierra Streams and Lakes


On your way back from fishing at Dardanelles Lake you may want to make the short detour to Round Lake.

Photo of Round Lake, El Dorado County, CA

Round Lake

Round Lake a little more than half a mile from the Christmas Valley sign post that you passed on the way in and is only about a 120 foot elevation gain. Since it is along the popular Tahoe Rim Trail circuit, it sees a lot more traffic than Dardanelles Lake. There are some dramatic bluffs overlooking Round Lake, but in general I found it far less appealing than Dardanelles Lake.

Nearby Featured Trips in El Dorado County