Bayview Trail to Velma Lakes

MODERATE 55 reviews

Bayview Trail to Velma Lakes is a 9.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Tahoma, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until August.

Distance: 9.9 miles Elevation Gain: 2,378 feet Route Type: Out & Back




nature trips


bird watching




wild flowers




no dogs

4 days ago

Great views on the climb up and at the summit. One small stream crossing that is an easy hop across. Granite lake is full and very pretty. However, snow starts to cover the trail shy of the summit at about 8100 feet. You can get past a few sections and manage to pick up the trail but eventually the trail is completely buried. At this point it becomes a scramble up loose dirt and rock and snow. Parts of the summit are clear but the trail is still buried. We had lunch and turned back. I doubt there will be enough snow melt in the next few weeks to clear the trail to the summit and beyond that will be a month or more. If you insist on trying for Velma Lake bring real crampons and poles and make sure you have a gps or AllTrails (and bring an extra battery pack for your phone - this app is a battery hog trying to find a signal). Note: the trailhead parking lot fills up fast so plan to arrive by 8:00.

12 days ago

this trail was good and would have been better in a couple weeks! The snow made us turn around at one point, but it was a beautiful hike! Steep uphill at the beginning.

2 months ago

Stopped at Maggie's Peak South for a great view! There was plenty of powdery snow to sink into.

9 months ago

I did this hike on 8/28/18. The climb up from the trailhead is a pretty good pull but not too tough. The views at the summit are really nice. The trail to Velma Lakes is kind of barren and desolate, I'm thinking now I know why it's called Desolation Wilderness. At the first lake it was so beautiful I was really glad I had my camera. Went over to see Middle Velma then turned back and headed to Fontanillis Lake. Once again I was glad to have brought my camera! From there I stopped at Dicks Lake, then took the Eagle Falls trail back to The trailhead. What a wonderful hike and not too hard. I love the Desolation Wilderness.

9 months ago

We spent the 2nd night of a backpacking trip at Upper Velma - we had the lake entirely to ourselves. We hiked out from Upper Velma to Bayview Trailhead (and added the hike up to Maggie's peak - which is well worth the extra little bit of up - gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe). Strava clocked the hike out from Velma to Bayview at 5.8 miles (so round trip I'm guessing would be a little over the 10 miles estimated here). It took us 1h 45 mins to get down. The hike up would probably take close to double the time as it is entirely uphill! The Velmas are gorgeous and the views in this area are outstanding!

10 months ago

Beautiful hike! First gain is a challenge but the view at the top is well worth it. Stopped there for lunch then ventured on toward the Dick’s Lake and Fontanillis Lake round about and up to middle Velma. Set up camp and ate dinner at dusk. Photographs because my credit card background. Mosquitoes were a nightmare (4th of July weekend) and the trails were a bit more congested on the descent with lots of day hikers.

11 months ago

Great hike. We were headed to campers flat for an over night. We did encounter a mountain lion in the rock field before the creek prior to Middle Velma. We did see a ranger the next day on the way out and he confirmed that there was one in the area. It was a great weekend and recommend this to anyone. Bring water and/or water filter. If your in good condition this is a fun hike if not you may have a time of it. Remember - enjoy the journey.

11 months ago

Last weekend (7/7-7/8) backpacked from the Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma for the night. Great hike! Definitely a steep incline going up, but beautiful views and flowers along the way. Be sure to stop at the lookout halfway up the initial incline for a stunning view of Emerald Bay. We took a detour to Dick’s Lake (not on this map), then continued on to Middle Velma to camp. Once we got to Middle Velma, we had a beautiful view, great swimming, and a warm evening. Bugs didn’t come out until sunset. Beautiful hike back down— recommend poles. Definitely a great weekend trip!

11 months ago

I came from the PCT heading north to Bayview Trail just past Upper Velma Lake... I assumed It was going to be an easy way to get back to a Parking area where I could take the Trolley back into town. I was completely Wrong!! The scenery is absolutely beautiful, so i hope this review helps.. I thought the trail would be well marked and a bit easier than it was... Once I began to take the trail I couldn't believe how hard it was to follow. After a long day of hiking this was away more challenging exit point than I wanted. I lost the trail a few times and then luckily picked it up again. My phone GPS didn't work here. Thank goodness I had my poles to cross the river. I assumed all of this trail would be clearly marked aka a more Tahoe family friendly route. I left the bayview trail to Eagle Lake trail where there is a posted sign, but if I had wanted to follow the bayview trail all the way down...I am not sure were I would of even gone at that point. Make sure you have a good understanding of the trail before you leave your start point. Happy Hiking!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Beautiful hike. Early morning is least populated.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Just got back from an amazing night at Middle Velma Lake with our pup. Got to ranger station at 720am on a saturday. Second in line to get our overnight permit. We parked at the Bayview trail head in the dirt, get there early it gets busy packed. The first two miles are dirt switch backs.. exhausting! After that it is another 4 miles of moderate downhill. We found a spot down near the lake... the bugs came out around 7pm. Bring bug spray. Overall wonderful trip. Pretty exhausted from the heat! drink lots of water. enjoy!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Started from the campsite near Inspiration Point. Parking was a mess. Trail is pretty steep for the first 2 miles or so from the campsite parking until you reach the turn off to Maggie's Peak. 4.5 miles to Velma from this trailhead. Trail was almost entirely clear of snow all the way to Middle Velma. We ended up staying the night at the "small" lake marked on the map right before Middle Velma. We were not able to continue on the main trail to the main lake due to high water levels. LOTS of water this time of year. And mosquitos. Still, beautiful trail in a stunning area of California.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Went in mid june 2016. Even though the weather was nice, it was chilly up on the trail! We went after a big snowfall, but do to sunshine, most of the snow was already gone with only a few rough patches of snow on the trail. The first 2 miles can be rough! Especially since it was our first backpacking trip, but definitely worth all the views. the trail is peaceful and very beautiful. Can't wait to go again this year!

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Quite hard first couple miles, be prepared! If you go early morning, make sure you have proper wind protection, it might be windy and really really cool on the top (as of end of September). Overall, amazing views, nature and mountains! Worth every minute spent.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Self permit at the trailhead kiosk. Parking is crazy on the weekends so get there early. I would rate this trail somewhere between Moderate and Difficult, though it was not as difficult as Mt. Tallac the climb to the first lake is immediately steep and there are several up and down climbs throughout. Though unlike the Mt. Tallac trail there aren't places where you're in danger of losing your footing. It's a beautiful trail with views of lakes, granite peaks, and wildflowers. It can be crowded on the weekends between the trailhead and the turnoff to Eagle Lake.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

This was an amazing hike it's graded moderate but was quite challenging. Several breath taking views made this hike more then worth the steep elevation climbs.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Me and two friends did it on labor day weekend. Make sure you buy a pass. We got stopped by a ranger and they verified we had one. 5 bucks at ranger station. We started at the bayview trailhead and hiked to Middle Velma lake where we set up camp. Took about 3 hours with some snack and beautiful view stops and breaks along the way. Hike back out took 2 hours. Mostly down hill on the way out. Way in is a steep climb the first half. Lots of yellow jackets when we started near the cars but go away as you get on the trail and away from civilization. They don't bite but they might land on you. We didn't encounter any mosquitos but still brung bug repellant. It got cold at night. Bundle up for the night time. Lake was a bit cold to swim in this time of year too. Best part was amazing views. No campfires allowed.

Monday, August 15, 2016

First couple of miles are strenuous if you aren't accustomed to uphill hikes, but after Maggie's Peak it flattens out and the vistas are breathtaking. Great little hike.

Monday, July 25, 2016

not moderate

Monday, June 06, 2016

Beautiful area, great trail, quiet. There was still snow on the trail, which made it difficult in some areas. Incredible views, and incredibly peaceful.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This is very difficult from the beginning but hang in there for some solitude when you go off trail to Lower Velma. One of my favs.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Awesome! First mile is straight up! Don't get discouraged... Every time you turn around... Another gorgeous lake! After going up for a lil' while, the rest of the hike is moderate at best. Lakes were low but still beautiful! Trail is well marked! Des. wilderness is a sight to behold!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

A little hard to follow, but the views are stunning!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Amazing views!!! Although it was a very difficult trail to follow after you pass the post that indicates Velma Lakes and Dicks Lake...not enough cairns pointing the way...we built some on the way to Velma Lakes. We should've built more earlier, cuz on the way back we lost the trail where we had not built the cairns and ended up getting lost for a while, pretty scary.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Beautiful hike, moderate to tough trail for us.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

This one is a good workout right out of the gate. 15 or 16 hundred feet to the top with spectacular views, including Granite Lake about 1/2 way up. from the top, I started having problems staying on the trail, because it just widens into these fields of granite bolders. if you're going through right way, you'll find the trail again- but the same happens again. Sometimes rocks have been laid out to point the way, but not always. But I didn't see anyone else up t g ere t g at seemed to be having as much trouble following the trail as I was. At one spot , getting close to the Velmas, you have to "rock-hop" across a stream, maybe 8 feet wide or so - only a few inches deep right now (September, 2015), and just after this stream is a signpost saying Upper Velma is to the left and Middle Velma is straight ahead. But I'm not sure that the Middle Velma campsites - which I was trying to get to- were actually straight ahead. It was getting late, and I walked that straight path (part of the PCT) for a little ways, but did not reach Middle Velma before I decided to backtrack to a nice camping spot I had passed. If you're reading this and you're familiar with the area, can you verify if I was on the right path to campsites at Middle Velma? The next morning I walked up to Upper Velma and it was beautiful up there as well, and would be a great spot to set up a tent.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Started at the trailhead at Bayview campground and just went to the falls as we were short on time. Really beautiful the whole way. Great view once you get there, and peaceful. Sat and watched a snake try to catch a couple fish in what was left of the falls for what seemed like hours. Easy to follow trail, would love to go back and go farther.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

We saw the Velma's via the Glen Alpine trail during a 4-day/3-night-night backpack. Our day 2 started from Lake Susie & went up Dick's Pass, enjoying views of Susie, Aloha & Half Moon Lakes; then descending through an open forest strewn with jumbo granite boulders.Upper Velma was my favorite, grassy on N. side, a granite beach on the SW side, where I'd love to camp some day. We pushed on to Fontinellis Lake, and saw an impressive sunset & sunrise.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Climbed from the Eagle Falls Trail Head. The climb is strenuous at times, once past Eagle Lake, until you reach the junction with the Bay View Tr. After that the hike goes along much easier and the views looking back on Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains are spectacular. We did the loop, climbing up to Dicks Lake first then down past Fontanellis Lake and Velma Lakes. There were a lot of clouds all around us, but got lucky with only one ten minute hail storm along the way. This was my second time doing this trail and will climb it again but from the Bay View Trail.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Actually hiked from Upper Velma to Emerald Bay via Eagle Lakes trail. Extremely steep trail, hard on the knees. Crowded near the falls.

Load More

Featured Trails