Explore To-Do List - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

To-Do List Map
22 hours ago

I did this trip on 8/23/18. This was my first time in the Desolation Wilderness and I loved every minute of it. The hike to Gilmore isn't too hard and the trail is easy to follow. Lake Gilmore is a beautiful lake and when I was there I was the only one around. I went to Mt. Tallac from Gilmore and it it sure easier than the North side of fallen Leaf Lake. Of course the views are spectacular and for me especially viewing the mountains looking toward desolation wilderness. i went back to Gilmore and returned the same way. Great hike and not too hard.

Spectacular views on this well groomed trail!

1 day ago

We hiked up to Pyramid Peak on Saturday, 9/15/18.

We started at the Lyons Creek Trailhead. That was 5 miles to Lake Sylvia. Then we climbed up to the notch. We began our climb at 12:20PM and reached the Peak at 3:22PM.

This was an incredible hike. When we arrived at Lake Sylvia and saw the “notch” it was overwhelming. We definitely had to reassure ourselves that we could make it up. After seeing some folks go up, we decided to move forward. We didn’t come this far just to get this far. We were going to summit Pyramid Peak. We decided to climb the big boulders instead of taking the zig zag trail straight up to the notch. The smaller rocks and dirt was extremely dry and loose. We climbed up the boulders up to a big tree and then cut across the top to the notch. It was definitely the better choice. Once we reached the top, it was wide and flat up on the ridge. There wasn’t really a trail so we followed cairns and used our GPS to guide us towards the peak. It took us 3 hours from the bottom of the lake up to Pyramid Peak, recording 2 miles worth of hiking and climbing. It was extremely sunny AND windy. We wore buffs and had our hoodies up. We were completely covered. The top views were amazing and thrilling. There are forts above to help with not getting blown away by the wind. We stayed for an hour and then headed back down. Unfortunately we didn’t monitor our way down and followed our friend, in which we ended up going the wrong way for a good mile or so, headed south instead of west. We had to back track a little and then cut across West to get us back to the notch. This extended our descent time by a lot. It took us 3 hours to reach the top and 4 hours to get back, for a total of 7 hours and 5 miles. Whew!

Climb the boulders up to the notch instead of the trail of loose rocks and dirt.
Once on top of the ridge, follow the cairns (stacked rocks), but also check your GPS or have a compass to help direct your way up to the peak.
When returning, make sure you check your navigation and go back the way you came (unless you are going a different route).

It was a great hike and I would do it all over again (except for the getting lost part lol).

loved this hike, steep but so worth it!

3 days ago

You can start this hike from either the trailhead at the end of Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, or at the "official" Wheeler Peak trailhead, which is maybe a quarter mile down the road as shown on the map here. I have tried both and prefer the latter option, where you are cutting 200 ft of elevation gain from the hike, but gaining maybe an extra half mile of distance. This trail does not bring you right by Stella Lake, but you get a good view from above as you ascend to the saddle.

I thought this would be a good time of year to try to make it all the way to the top, as it is too early for any snow and ice, and not too hot at the lower elevations. But it turned out to be a red flag day for wind, so I knew there was a good chance I wouldn't make it to the summit. That was a good assessment, because at the 3.5 mile mark, the wind was so strong I thought it was going to blow my glasses off my face. So I turned back, not just because of the wind and cold, but at this point you are facing another 1000 ft of elevation over .7 miles at 12,000 ft of elevation. I'm sure I will try again.

Fortunately, you don't have to make it to the summit to enjoy spectacular views and a major sense of accomplishment. The aspens are changing color right now and it's beautiful to see the bright reds and yellows in the landscape.

This is my favorite trail that we hiked this year! I would definately do it again! It was strenuous but not to hard and so beautiful.

We just did the majority of this hike and the quaking aspen were amazing: brilliant yellows everywhere. We saw lots of deer hiding from hunters and they carefully inspected us, but we were able to get a few good photographs. The wind was blustery from nearly the beginning but became ferocious as we reached the exposed talus slope. On our way up, only one man said he conquered the wind to the top. Everyone else shook their heads and said “another day.” One couple above us steadfastly clung to the talus trail, but we turned back at around 12,000 feet and didn’t wait to see if they made it. This is an amazing hike and the country is absolutely stunning. Wear layers and bring gloves to protect your hands if (when) the wind decides to toss you around a bit.

great vista views up and down

6 days ago

My wife and I made it to the top on 9/14/18. Very inexperienced hikers but made it up and down in 3 1/2 hours. A few stops on the way up we’re needed, but it gave us a chance to take in the beautiful views. Windy on top of the peak, but the views made it 100% worth the work. Mt Tallac will be the target next trip out!

6 days ago

This was a great hike beautiful landscape..up hill for about 4 or so miles then down a bit..and look for water falls..and if you have a dog please have shoes for them this will tear up feet

Tough hike, but the views along the way are breathtaking.

Such a beautiful and amazing hike. Great incline.

on Sayles Canyon Trail

7 days ago

Absolutely stunning view at the top. I could’ve stayed there all day. We were lucky at got a spot at Lovers Leap Trail parking inside Camp Sacramento. We did this hike at 2 pm on a Sunday so maybe that’s why, most folks were heading out as we arrived. Trail is mostly shaded in the afternoon. Rocky in the beginning and then again near the top. There a few forks, you generally stay going “straight” (don’t turn off on any of the forks) to get to lovers leap. All Trails map helped us stay on track.

7 days ago

Great hike!! Steep but well worth the views!

8 days ago

Steep and soft dirt in the first half. Flattens out when you see the peak. Easy climb to the top. Worth hiking.

Amazing! Do it.

Awesome trail! Well worth the effort! My wife and I hiked it with our 3 daughters, 4, 8, and 10. Took just a hair over 2 hours to get to the peak. Absolutely breathtaking views. And the girls loved it. Best hike ever.

12 days ago

View is to die for, and if the climb up doesn’t kill you the climb down might

14 days ago

This is an awesome hike. Pretty easy to moderate up to Silvia Lake, slightly harder to get up to Lyons Lake. I took the extra trip to the top of Pyramid peak and will remember that view for the rest of my life.

14 days ago

The road to the trail is obscure, random unmarked turn off 89/Luther Pass that goes back about 5 miles and since its a bumpy road its about 20 or so minutes driving...stick to the left...eventually you end up at the bottom of the unmarked trailhead. The way up is steep from the beginning. The final climb to the top is steepest. Way back is hard on knees without poles. We did it up and back it in about 4 hours and my sister hadn't been accustomed to hiking, including our break for enjoying the stunning Carson Valley views and filling out the journal in the fun mailbox. Very sentimental for us. We got phone service on the mtn. top. If you have the forethought, bring chalk or something to make some markers starting from the turn off on Luther, so people aren't as clueless LOL

Beautiful hike! Elevation gain from the start all the way up! View from the top is spectacular!

Such a great hike. First 2 miles are super simple, and well sheltered by trees. Last 2+ have exposure, super windy and was a bit cold.

Amazing hike. My Garmin clocked it at 4.5mi and about 1,400ft elevation gain...took us 3 hours round trip. Be prepared to climb - no rock scrambling but a lot of vertical starting at the trail head and going all the way up. Totally worth the work

19 days ago

The trail was nice and relatively easy. Itself the trail would only be 2-stars. The treat was coming across the soda spring and circa 1900 resort at Glen Alpine Springs with cabins and other buildings designed by Maybeck.

20 days ago

Moderate overall but it’s hard to judge when you go backpacking for the first time. Wonderful trail. Plenty of kids are able to do it with their families.

20 days ago

Breathtaking from the Top

Great hike. You hike with good view of Caples Lake for almost 2 miles and then head in and the hike is pretty up and down throughout with mostly tree cover and not a lot of unshaded areas. Nice wildflowers and a few streams. Trail pretty easy to follow out and back. Hiked on Labor Day and there were a few hikers up and down but not too busy considering the holiday. Take a lunch and relax once you reach Emigrant Lake or alongside Caples Lake when you get back down.

My review is from the perspective of an amateur landscape photographer.

The trail is labeled as “hard” and it is. I’m 62 years old and I could do it. But it’s 9.6 miles, 5600 ft total elevation change and the entire trail is above 10k ft. That makes it tough for someone used to a max elevation of 6k that you find east of the Mississippi. And the winds are frequently and issue since you are above the tree line. I encountered 35 mph sustained winds with gusts of 50 mph. And if took me seven hours to complete the hike. If none of this sounds to daunting then you should consider taking this trail.

I rate the landscape photography between a 4 or 5. I went in August. The aspen hadn’t started to change color nor was there any snow on the mountain. Late September may have been better to get snow and the leaf color change. But be prepared for much cooler temperatures.

For those of you that don’t want to invest in the hard climb to the summit, there’s a nice composition 100 yards downhill from the parking lot and another nice opportunity 1/2 mile from the trail head.

Walking on rocks the entire time, not very scenic. This has to be one of the worse in Lake Tahoe

I did this on Saturday. For a holiday I expected more people, but I started early in the morning around 7:15. I saw a lot of people on my way down, but never crowded.

Easy class 1. The first 2.5 miles are a breeze. The last climb isn't bad, just pace yourself. Summit was nice and great views.

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