Go Take a Hike, Part 8. Into Desolation Wilderness   Leave a comment

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By Tim Hauserman

 

Tahoe is full of things to do outdoors in the summer. You can bike, swim, paddle, sit on the beach, grill up some burgers along the shoreline, or motor around the lake. But a hike into Tahoe’s own Desolation Wilderness is a trip not to be missed by anyone visiting Lake Tahoe.

While in the summer it is way too busy to feel like its name, you can still find plenty of places to enjoy the quiet and mystery of Desolation Wilderness. It’s a land of crystal clear mountain lakes, high granite and volcanic peaks, and waves of wildflowers. The easiest trailheads into the wilderness from the North side of Tahoe are at Meeks Bay and Emerald Bay.

Known also as the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail the Meeks Bay entrance to Desolation brings you in five miles to Crag Lake (first you reach Lake Genevieve, but take the extra quarter mile to get to the much more compelling Crag). The lake is classic Desolation. A mix of smooth granite and pine and fir forest along the shore, with a few bonsai tree topped islands.

 

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Heading into Desolation at Emerald Bay takes you in five miles to five awesome lakes: Dicks, Fontanillis, and the Upper, Middle and Lower Velma Lakes. The lakes are granite rimmed gems surrounded by high peaks, which often hold snow well into the summer. They are also just begging for a swim, although given the brisk temperatures, swim might be an exaggeration of what usually is a quick dip, and then a concentrated effort to remove yourselves from the water quickly. The hike is quite challenging with a steady, fairly steep ascent for the first two and a half miles.

The lakes are accessed either by the Eagle Falls or Bayview Trailheads. Since they are at Tahoe’s most popular attraction, the trailheads are busy and parking is at a premium. If you can hike on a midweek day, do so. The lakes are also prime backpacking terrain, but excessive popularity has led to a permitting system, which means you have to plan in advance for a trip, and perhaps be flexible where you camp. Day hiking for many is the easiest option and it also has less impact on the fragile ecosystem.

Whichever method or trail you choose, Desolation is an amazingly pretty place, and well worth the effort.

THINK OF ME, LYNN RICHARDSON, FOR ALL OF YOUR LAKE TAHOE AND TRUCKEE REAL ESTATE NEEDS!

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