Half Moon Lake

MODERATE 15 reviews
#13 of 43 trails in

Half Moon Lake is a 10.8 mile out and back trail located near South Lake Tahoe, California that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and backpacking and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,847 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

hiking

forest

lake

views

hiking
17 days ago

Note about the drive to trailhead: Fallen Leaf Lake Road is overdue for some maintenance, get ready for some giant potholes and bumps.

This is a trail I've overlooked for years. While the lakes aren't too remarkable you will have a pleasant time arriving to them - the series of switchbacks are mild and elevation gain is gradual. This is a good hike to introduce someone who isn't yet an avid hiker (the views may transform them). A benefit of this trail is that it connects to turnoffs that link to Mt Tallac and Lake Aloha.

The Desolation Wilderness hikes near South Lake Tahoe always seems to be the more crowded option. If you are in the mood for solitude you may want to go elsewhere.

backpacking
1 month ago

This is one of my favorite places in the world.... if camping, I highly recommend going past the end of the trail to this private campsite near several lake inlets. Truly stunning. The water was some of the warmest I’ve felt in the area in July

2 months ago

Loved this backpack trip. Did a slight detour up to gilmore lake for lunch then back on trail to Half moon. Fairly steady incline the whole way there, so if you like hiking up with little relief this is your trail. Had place to ourself and actually camped at Alta Morris, a bit of scrambling to get to alta and loss of trail but geographic markers and following edge of half moon lake helped with direction across granite boulders. Alta was well worth it, had the whole lake to ourselves, saw two couples in the distance the whole weekend.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful wildflowers. After Gilmore Lake split it’s pretty much flat. If you want to swim not the lake for you. Lots of grass along the shores and felt more like a very big pond. Not like your typical alpine lakes you see in Tahoe. Still a great workout. I clocked 11.5 on Strava.

backpacking
3 months ago

Pretty lake, secluded. Tougher hike than I expected. Map shows it as 5.5 from Glen Alpine but it felt more like 7. Could just be my lack of conditioning backpacking though. Wildflowers were outstanding. Loose rock on parts of trail were tough on feet.

backpacking
3 months ago

Saw 0 people. Amazing views all around. The right half is all meadow and left in granite and trees- left is your best bet for backpacking. All facing a beautiful waterfall. The hike is very easy after the Gilmore lake split.

hiking
Sunday, September 03, 2017

Awesome hike! Nobody on the trail after split with Gilmore Lake trail. Awesome views. Not really a tough hike compared to some. Lake was great to take a swim in after the climb up. Start early to beat the heat.

hiking
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pretty much all uphill from the start until you reach the lake. Terrain is really rocky. I wore my trail running shoes and had wished I'd wore my hiking boots. A lot of the hike is exposed. It is an absolute beautiful hike with all the different landscapes. The wild flowers were amazing. When we got to the lake they were 4 feet tall and we had to push through them for about 500 ft because they had overgrown the trail. Quite a few people on the trail until the split to go towards Gilmore lake. After that it was just us on the trail.

hiking
Saturday, July 22, 2017

Warm weather patches of snow here and there but mostly melted.

backpacking
Monday, June 19, 2017

Still very snowy above ~7500 ft and the lake is ~90% frozen, so getting there for the next month or so is likely to require snow shoes and some navigation. Also a pretty big creek crossing to tend with about three miles in. Worth the views and seclusion if you go in prepared though!

fishing
Monday, June 08, 2015

Beautiful beautiful hike, little longer than expected although we did see Grass Lake, Shirley Lake, and others in the distance. Plan your time so your out before dark, the hike down is hard on your knees so be careful and bring a knee brace. Fishing was amazing at Half Moon Lake, we caught one every cast and released it. Next time we want to plan an over night stay because it really is amazing up there.

camping
Wednesday, February 02, 2011

This quick review is for Half Moon Lake in Desolation Wilderness. However, we normally approach from the Glen Alpine trail head at Fallen Leaf lake and go left at Gilmore lake branch off. You will pick your way along the right edge of a wet marshy area until you reach the base of falls. Lakes are to your left from there. When taking this hike from the Glen Alpine trail head be prepared for pockets of standing water at the beginning of this hike, especially in early spring. If looking for high alpine views this is not your hike. Half Moon Lake is a small shallow lake nestled into a nice secluded pocket of privacy. Not much direct sun either, as it has less southern exposure than normal due to the way it is tucked in along the bottom of the mountains. Attraction here is a nice misty light waterfall cascading from high above. When camping at Half Moon Lake this small cascading sheet of water is what will gently put you to sleep or keep you awake. Some small fish can be coaxed into your frying pan once in a while if late enough in the season. This is an easy to moderate hike of 6 - 7 miles one way. Spend a second night at Gilmore Lake and stand atop Mt.Tallac for a great view of Lake Tahoe, via a fairly easy 1.5 mile saunter from Gilmore Lake up the back side of Mt.Tallac. Elevation and getting back down before dark are only concerns here, aside from the crowds if you are hiking on weekends. Desolation Wilderness is typically busy due to it's proximity to the Tourism crowds and small size. Moderate traffic and crowds should be expected most of the time.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
Sunday, July 23, 2017

hiking
Sunday, June 04, 2017