Middle Velma Lake Trail

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Desolation Wilderness

Middle Velma Lake Trail is a 10 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 March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 10.0 miles Elevation Gain: 2,132 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

fee

Note: Parking Fee: $5

Beautiful area, but still a good amount of snow towards Velma and Dicks lake. Without the app it may be hard to stay on path with the snow on the ground. I ended up turning around right after Velma lake and camping by a smaller lake. Desolation wilderness is a beautiful area, but if you are looking for a clear path, now isn’t the time. Also if you do the whole loop, you have to walk along highway 89 for about a mile which is somewhat sketchy.

hiking
flooded
snow
9 days ago

LOTS of snow still as of Memorial Day. Didn’t quite make it to Middle Velma as it was just slow going. Without my GPS I would have completely lost the trail. Gorgeous views and I look forward to trying it again a little later this year!

hiking
fee
6 months ago

This was a nice trail, but definitely not 7.8 miles. Was closer to 10 round trip. Also the first part of this trail is very very busy on weekend. Close to a non stop stream of people till the falls, then almost as busy to dicks lake. Trail clears out and gets much better after that. Middle Velma lake is low but still a great destination.

My dad and I just finished this one up. The offline map definitely saved us a number of times. Very easy to get off track if it’s your first time. We took 2 days to do it, spent the first night at Dicks Lake. Got down to about 20' at night. Highly recommend this if you’re looking for a challenging but tremendously beautiful adventure.

hiking
rocky
6 months ago

Beautiful trail with a moderate-to-difficult climb in the beginning. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, preferably hiking shoes. The terrain can get rocky and may be uncomfortable wearing tennis shoes. Overall a phenomenal hike with beautiful sights! Please note that parking may be a challenge so start your hike early!

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail! Mostly uphill but pretty views the entire way. No bugs this time of year but stay vigilant for inclement weather.

nature trips
8 months ago

10 miles RT to middle Velma lake without stopping at eagle lake because I’ve done that one before. First 3.5 miles are all elevation gain. It doesn’t even out for a little and then goes down hill to the lake. BUT getting back up wasn’t bad and then it’s all downhill from there. Would definitely wear boots over sneakers.

hiking
8 months ago

Lots of rocks. Good uphill and downhill sections. Clocked at 9.8 miles to middle Velma.

hiking
8 months ago

Not to steep with great a pay off. Velma is stunning.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

An all day hike with the option to take a refreshing dip at the end. My group all agreed it was more on the difficult instead of moderate level, especially with quick elevation change in the beginning. Bring a long sleeves shirt and hat to protect you from the heat. It is definitely worth the well kept 12 mile trail!

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

More like 12 miles round trip. Very steep for the first 4 miles but totally worth it! I did not come across any snow. We managed to make it to Velma Lakes and back all in a day trip

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

backpacking
bugs
10 months ago

Just completed this trail to Middle Velma for a 2 night backpacking trip. Due to conditions on the west side of the wilderness, we did a walk up permit and ended up here. The trail to Middle Velma is clear at this point but the creek crossing at the junction right before the lakes is still moving quick. As of today (7-22) it was knee high when I crossed in the morning. Recommend staying in the North shore of the lake, mosquitoes are slightly better there but it’s still really bad. Bug spray is a must. We did two day hikes as well. One up to Dick’s Lake which was pretty easy and very beautiful. Dick’s Pass is still covered in snow but most folks we talked to said it was doable but just slow going on it. We also hiked out to Horseshoe Lake through 4Qs Lakes. Totaled 17 miles on that one. Very long hike with multiple creek crossings and no trail to be found through 4Q. I think it’s flooded so we have to basically navigate around them to get by. Clear of snow the whole way though. Overall an amazing trip with incredible views. The area is beautiful, just be safe crossing the water and plan for bugs!

backpacking
10 months ago

Beautiful trail, very steep but rewarding with gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, Eagle Lake, Velma lakes and many other small lakes on the way. Magnificent peaks surrounding from all around. We backpacked one night by Middle Velma Lake, note the water crossing, I'd recommend bringing water shoes or sandals just for that. Lots of bugs, don't forget the anti bug spray. We heard many frogs singing for 3-4 hours at night...just saying...bring your earplugs and don't stay too close to the water. Lovely trail, not easy with backpack but definitely worth it!

hiking
10 months ago

Had an amazing weather day for a hike, the trail is 90% clear, very few snow patches left and only had trouble locating the trail in one spot... I inadvertently followed a snow patch that hooked me up heading towards Dicks lake, my All-Trails app got me back on the way to Middle Velma. Enjoyed the scenery so much that I'm going to go back in two weeks from now and actually spend the night... can't wait!

hiking
11 months ago

Was a nice place to spend 2 nights exploring, first time backpacking with my kids!

backpacking
muddy
off trail
snow
11 months ago

Beautiful trail. It was a very snowy winter and the trail disappeared several times under large mushy slabs of slippery white. It took a great deal of scouting to find it again. But I saw it as part of the adventure and got into it. Only saw a few other brave hikers. One couple had gotten lost. So be careful when going off trail. Backpacked to a bluff overlooking Emerald Bay and Granite Lake and set up my camp there. Took a day hike to middle Velma. It was my first solo trip so I took it easy and didn't push too hard. There is a lot of running water which is delicious when filtered but dangerous to hike through. This trail has a few log crossings which I am terrified of, but not too deep to take off your shoes and do it barefoot safely. The All Trails app helped me when I got too far off-trail. Bring a map. This wilderness is beautiful with so many gorgeous views. The Eagle Falls entrance is lovely but wayyyy too popular to feel any solitude. So is Granite Lake. But a lot of people stop there and don't keep pushing uphill. The mountain lakes are still too cold for enjoyable swimming. But by the end of July, it will be a paradise!!! The next time I hike to the Velmas, it will be through a different entrance. But I was thrilled with my experience.

hiking
snow
11 months ago

There was still lots of snow when we pass the lake we could not find the patch continue And you also have to jump in a lake hopefully the snow will clear out pretty soon this is just a heads up for everyone who is coming up

hiking
Sat May 25 2019

Too mushy this time of the year

hiking
Fri Apr 19 2019

Absolutely fucked

Fri Nov 23 2018

Beautiful trail - tried to do after a big snow storm and lost the last mile of trail. Still had great views and would recommend.

Mon Oct 22 2018

This is the trail for everyone. If you have visitors from other places this is perfect. Short walk to the falls, short loop trail to Eagle lake, then longer hikes to Velma lake and others. Nice shaded hike and would be perfect for summer. There was a family out today and they had a 2 year old walking, a little one in a pack and were past Eagle lake. Not a lot of altitude for people from sea level as well. Fantastic scenery from every angle. The trail gets five stars, the management get a thumbs down (no permits available) maybe they just are not important. Costs 5$ to park.

backpacking
Tue Sep 25 2018

Beautiful hike. We hiked in to Middle Velma and spent the night, then hiked back out the next day. We drove up from the valley and started this cold turkey with no elevation acclimation so it sucked the oxygen out of us very quickly, especially since we all had on 40 lb backpacks. The climb up is like going on a stairclimber machine for 4 straight hours. For you novices, like me, the trail is rough, with rocks and granite steps and fallen logs and debris the whole way. Its not a nicely groomed trail that is easy to walk on. You better have sturdy shoes/boots to prevent ankle sprains. And I'm in pretty good shape as I exercise regularly. I was exhausted when we got to camp. But the lake was gorgeous. COLD water though. No bugs, just some annoying chipmunks that got into my snack stash. Next time I'll bring a pellet gun to deal with them... And we never saw any signs of bear, unlike some of the other reviewers stated.

hiking
Sat Sep 15 2018

Loved this trail and would be an excellent place to backpack and set up camp! Beautiful views... experienced all this area has to offer weather wise. It rained, snowed, hailed and then it was like it never happened! Incline is pretty hefty first part of the trail. Coming down got to experience the sound of Bear. Never saw it though. Started at sunrise at finished at noon which was perfect because it was very busy then.

backpacking
Sat Aug 04 2018

Beautiful, but there's a 600+ lb California Brown bear that's way to comfortable with people and knows how to bring down a properly hung bear bag.

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