Bayview Trail to Velma Lakes

MODERATE 40 reviews
#4 of 9 trails in

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.

9.9 miles
2378 feet
Out & Back




nature trips




wild flowers


no dogs

6 months ago

Beautiful hike. Early morning is least populated.

7 months ago

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!

8 months ago

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.

9 months ago

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.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Beautiful views of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. Made it up to Maggie's Peak then returned to the bottom. Come early to get parking!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The hike from Bayview trailhead (at the Bayview campground above Emerald Bay) is a great point of access to Desolation Wilderness. It's steep right out of the gates, but once you've climbed ~1,000 ft you're rewarded with Granite Lake - where many hikers decide to stop for a swim/lunch. Pushing on another 600-800 ft gets you to the top of the ridge. From there, it's a very easy stroll down into the Velma Lakes area.

Like the name implies, this trail has some really fantastic vistas of Emerald Bay. It attracts a lot of people as a result and the parking area at Bayview campground isn't very large, so try to get an early start if you decide to go.

Friday, August 30, 2013

i hiked to Velma lake in one day starting all the way down, passing eagle falls, and Kings Lake. good work out ...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My 9yr old daughter loves backpacking so we took off to Lower Velma Lake for 3 nights a couple of weeks ago. We took the Eagle Falls trailhead, though, and it was a real butt-kicker !! We took lots of breaks and drank lots of water on this 80+ degree day. Over the Eagle Falls bridge and to the Eagle Lake junction not so bad, but then let the pain begin. Over the next couple of seemingly non-stop uphill trekking miles with some very large steps that I was helping my great company up (dozens of granite rock-steps that were 14-22" high on the trail). Once you get to the Bayview junction and keep right, the next two miles are the easiest all the way through the Dicks Lake junction down to the right towards the Velmas. Getting to the first lake and seeing the outlet river running downhill is the way to Lower Velma, where we knew we would have solitude and quiet camping compared to the easier Upper and Middle destinations. A couple of crossing possibilities presented themselves to get to the other side of the river, we found a nice double log over an 8' wide span. Easy enough, so just keep the river on your right and within hearing distance, find the path of least resistance down about a 500' elevation loss across expansive granite hillside. Lots of campsites available. The fishing was incredible! My daughter smoked me 10-6 on trout (both rainbow and brook species). We used yellow Power Bait and rainbow Uncle Josh dough. Bottom fishing was the best results. Great hikes around parts of the lakes and we watched a few daring souls swim out to the islands and other cliff jumping from 10-25 feet high in some places. Not us! Great water falls along the rushing river and nice wading pools nearby. We'll be back!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

This was part of a 3-day trip for me. Started at Meeks bay and exited at Emerald bay.
Camped at Middle Velma my second night and I wished I'd had more time to spend in that area. Passed Crag Lake along the way to my designated zone (you need wilderness permits and they want you to camp your first night in a certain area) and it's gorgeous. I stayed at Stony Ridge Lake that night. Beautiful sunset! Evil mosquitoes!
Spent the last night at Granite Lake and had a short downhill exit hike overlooking Emerald Bay.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Completed a variation of this trail, starting from Eagle Falls trailhead and continuing on the lakes loop. Pretty tough ascent for the first few miles. A few places along the way where the trail starts to blend in with everything else. Camped for the night at Middle Velma lake and enjoyed one of the best night skies I can remember. Only noise was the wind through most of our hiking. Truly earns the name "Desolation Wilderness."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The best topo map for this hike is the National Geographic #803, Lake Tahoe Basin. All of the trails on the map are clearly illustrated with distances between junctions indicated.

Actually, the hike may be started from either Bayview or the Eagle Falls trailhead at Emerald Bay. The Bayview Trail is a bit easier since it begins at a higher elevation. It is also a little shorter. Coming up the Eagle Falls trail, it intersects with Bayview in 2.3 miles. Much of the Eagle falls trail parallels a small stream, so there is no lack for water. However, the views of Emerald Bay from the Bayview trail are spectacular and should not be missed. Granite Lake is also a plus for the Bayview trail.

Around 2 miles from the Bayview trailhead, there is a junction. To the left is Dicks Lake and to the right are the Velma Lakes. There is a wooden post with directional arrows. Actually, this junction is the beginning of a loop. Going clockwise, i.e. to the left, are Dicks Lake, Fontanellis Lake, Upper Velma, Middle Velma and Lower Velma. Going counter clockwise merely reverses the order of the lakes. If you want to fish, try Fontanellis. It is the largest and deepest. However, I have found that the fishing in Desolation is not great.

We stopped for numerous photos and twice for sandwiches at Dicks Lake and Lower Velma. There were a couple of small springs where we filled our canteens. The 10 miles tooks us around 7 hours. I did the trail in trail running shoes and actually ran parts of it. However, most of the trail is too rocky on which to run.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This trail provides quick access to a multitude of mountain top lakes. The first 4 miles are uphill, giving way to a level hike after reaching mile 4.

Get a Desolation Wilderness permit and have a lake all to yourself for the weekend. Be sure to check the weather before going and bring adequate warm clothing- it snowed lightly in late August, although due to an Alaskan cold front. It's normally 70-80 in the summer, but be prepared!

I highly recommend Lower Lake Velmas (pictured above). You have to take a side trail at the stream crossing before Middle Lake Velmas and stay along the stream until a trail emerges. We left ducks to guide the way!

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