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Spent Black Friday doing this hike with very little other hikers. We encountered quite a bit more snow than we expected and should have brought snowshoes, so word to the wise, the snow is very deep in November. Nicely marked trail, beautiful views of Marlette Lake. Pack a lunch and enjoy the little peninsula that stretches out into the lake.

Beautiful backpacking shuttle trip starting in Meeks Bay and continued from Crag Lake to the Velma Lakes and out the Bayview Trail to Emerald Bay.

There is much to enjoy here year-round, but Winter and early Spring months are when you can get out your snowshoes, mountaineering gear, and/or skis and take advantage of this snowy wonderland. If you get a Snow Park pass (definitely get one of these, by the way - I believe California limits how much the pass-issuer will cost you, so they're not bad at $25.00 or so) you will have an excellent parking lot next to the trail. This gives you access to a paradise for Winter sports enthusiasts.

After 10am or so, I find that the parking lot exponentially fills up. Get there as early as you can.

Round Top Peak and other geological features, like Elephant Back (which is aptly named), tower above the relatively flat surroundings, this gives you the freedom to cross country and explore around. Kirkwood, CA and the Mokelumne Wilderness are known for high levels of precipitation. I was here recently (mid-April) and it is still dumped on. Be courteous and follow "snow etiquette and traditions", in other words don't be like me and trample parts of ski tracks and get called out for it. Duh!

hiking
16 days ago

Road conditions up to the official trailhead are questionable; no snow removal during the winter months. Parking is available both at trailhead (currently closed) and alongside the road. Ice and snow remain on last 0.5 miles of road as of 4/9.

As others have stated, the trail begins on a rocky path. The rocks are cobble rather than pebbles or boulders. After warm rainfall and above-freezing spring temperatures, this trail was flooded under ~6 inches of water for a short section. Waterproof boots worked well. After Lily Lake, the trail is a mixture of cobble and paved, wide enough for an ATV but not quite a 4x4 trail. The immediate surroundings are poor compared to other Tahoe hikes.

Since there was significant snow accumulation over 7,000 feet, I turned back at Glen Alpine Falls rather than heading up to Grass Lake. Others have noted there's little to see after the falls. I didn't travel far enough to verify this, but based on satellite and heatmap, this seems correct. Assuming you park before the Lower Glen Alpine Falls, located right past the fire station, there are three main attractions.

The first is Lower Glen Alpine Falls, which can be reached by car and is a popular tourist attraction. Some call it the most popular waterfall in Tahoe (debatable, since Lower Eagle Falls commands attention). The second is Lily Lake, a swamp-like flooded basin that beautifully reflects Echo Peak. Lastly, the true Glen Alpine Falls, around 0.5 miles up the trail, is a rushing fall at the base of Tallac. Beyond that, there's Grass Lake an additional two miles further.

Even though the waterfalls are beautiful and Mount Tallac is always a surreal sight, this trail is little more than a decent outing. Paved portions and operational cabins/houses detract from the backcountry feel. Similarly, the two-mile section of relative uninterest combined with a wide track falter when compared to vicinity hikes, especially Aloha and Ralston. Keep in mind that I didn't hike the full trail, though, so take this review with a grain of salt.

hiking
21 days ago

Did this from Spring Creek trailhead via North East ridge.. which is half the mileage(~5 miles round-trip) and same elevation(~3.3-3.5K), so a lot harder, but totally worth every step. Had a very clear/sunny day and had to wear snowshoes all along.

elevation gets very high but beautiful hike!!

hiking
1 month ago

One of the best hiking spot in the Tahoe area. The last couple miles before reaching the summit kicks ass forreals. The view is definitely worth it though. Hiked this 3x.

Right now (feb 19th) snow shoes are needed from spooner summit down to the lake. Wind blown snow drifts present. Beautiful regardless.

backpacking
2 months ago

Great backpacking trip! Although trail is hard to find at times! Beautiful at top!

beautiful! went a few days ago and once you get passed Spooner lake the snow can get deep. I still wore hiking boots and did fine. snowshoes would've been helpful

Warning! In order to cross Sugar Bowl terrain during their ski season, a uphill pass is required. Even with an uphill pass, only some uphill routes are approved and unfortunately this is not one of them. I ran into a ski patrol while attempting this trail and was turned around. They told me to visit Sugarbowl.com and read the uphill policy for more information.

snowshoeing
3 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous! Park right off the highway as the road to the trail head is narrow and there is no closer parking. Trail was easy to follow the tracks until it crossed the ski runs.

Now that Tahoe finally has snow, decided to check this trail out and what a view! For the fairly tame profile and duration, this trail has some incredible view starting with the now frozen / snowed over Winnemucca lake (this route is direct to the mountain, 4th of july as an optional detour on the return though we made it on the way out) and then of Round Top and the Sisters at the end. Lots of great powder currently making for a fun day even on snowshoes (but they are a must) and certainly a great one on skis. The view from the saddle below the summit is incredible with Pyramid Peak, Freel, and the south Sierras all visible. We didn't push up for the true summit but the rocks of the upper mountain look like a fun reason to return.

snowshoeing
3 months ago

It’s a good hike , very moderate- not to hard . Views are great.

snowshoeing
3 months ago

Great trail. Decently challenging, but the destination is rewarding. We spent our first night at Aloha, and the next 4 at Susie

We did the loop counterclockwise. Micro spikes were definitely in order on some of the lower parts and all of the upper. Once over the summit and past the ski lift, the backside was too steep and unstable to try. Getting late so we came down the ski area in the woods. Treacherous in spots but at least there were trees to stop you (which we did not need).

Awesome.. but it kicked my butt!

trail running
3 months ago

I do not recommend doing the full loop in the winter. The trails up to Donner Peak are of medium difficulty and were mostly easy enough to follow people's footprints with some GPS confirmation. They were mostly covered in snow and a bit of ice, so I would recommend bringing some kind of spikes or snowshoes. I think this section would be good as an out-and-back during the winter months. If you plan to go up any side of Mount Judah, I would definitely recommend crampons and maybe even an ice axe in the current conditions. Following my GPS, I accidentally found myself on the trail to the east that runs parallel to the ridge. The whole south and east sides of Judah are pretty icy and slick, with no easy tracks to follow if you don't count the deer footprints.

snowshoeing
3 months ago

First time out with snow shoes. Didn't make it to the top as trail was cut into steep ravine and snowed over completely. Still had a blast and was pretty.

hiking
3 months ago

Didn’t do loop however still a great workout. Few patches of ice but you can walk around them ( by doing a little bit of bolder hoping) Once you get near the top snow shoes really help

hiking
4 months ago

great hike

hiking
4 months ago

It was a beautiful hike. Great inclines and breathtaking views. Definitely would hike here again.

Take the upper Trail to the top. Lower Trail is a dirt road.

snowshoeing
4 months ago

We went November 18th. The mountain was covered in snow. Once we got to the top the trail was completely covered in snow so we just explored on our own and hiked back down under the ski lift. You will defiantly need snow shoes once you get to the top (we rented them for the week from rental shop where we live). If we didn’t have snowshoes and gps we probably would have turned around. The views are beautiful and the land that you can scale in snowshoes an awesome experience!

hiking
4 months ago

Took the hike early summer. Great hike all the way around

Beautiful!

Thanks Patrick. I didn’t make it to the top as I was ill-equipped for the deep snow (I only had my mud-boots and no poles). Maybe I was just wimpy. I did make it quite close to the top. I think it’s better to go with a partner for the first time.

backpacking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike along the PCT. Unfortunately the trail right before Tamarack Lake was covered in about 2 feet of snow. Not knowing this, we only had hiking boots. Ended up camping the night at Tamarack Lake which was just as gorgeous and isolated.

hiking
4 months ago

The road to the TH is closed so park on west side of 89 or on road. They ticket if you park on the east side. 1 mile walk west on road to TH.

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