Middle Velma Lake Trail

MODERATE 27 reviews
#8 of 38 trails in

Middle Velma Lake Trail is a 7.9 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 March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
7.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,132 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

backpacking
17 days ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this as a day hike with a stutdy 9 year old and a daypack from Eagle Falls starting at 8am in mid July. Steady climb for about 2 miles with great landscapes. As you descend towards the Velma lakes the trail crosses a stream, which I could imagine being easy to miss or inaccessible with higher flows. The trail gets within 200-300 yds of Middle Velma, you have to scramble through boulders to get to the shore which isnt too tough. Tried to fly fish the lake in a few spots but saw nothing. Heard the park service is clearing fish from these lakes to restore Yellow Legged Frogs, fwiw. Bring insect repellant. Passed many backpackers who had overnighted at Dicks, Fontanellis and elsewhere.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice hike with some great views and plenty of places to pull off and enjoy. Lots of people if you get there anytime after 8-9am. Couldn't make it all the way, as there was still snow on the trail. Parking at the trailhead or along the road.

hiking
3 months ago

Fantastic views. Very busy with a lot of dogs. Wonderful hike.

walking
7 months ago

Decent trail a lot of ice in December
Would be great in spring

backpacking
Saturday, July 15, 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.

backpacking
Saturday, August 06, 2016

Wife and I hiked to Upper Velma for an overnight trip. This was our first backpacking trip in the Tahoe region and my wife's first backpack trip ever. We started on a Monday because I knew the trailhead would be crazy on the weekend. We got there too late (10am) to get a parking spot in either of the parking lots. Show up at dawn if you don't want to park on the street!

The first 100 yards is very busy as tourists walk to the bridge and pool just above Eagle Falls. Quite a few day hikers going up and down from Eagle Lake which a mile from the trailhead. Eagle Lake is gorgeous and lots of people were swimming. It was busy and I didn't want to rest around all the noise so we didn't stay long. The lakes and streams feeding Lake Tahoe seem to be much warmer than Tahoe itself.

Lots of climbing in the first 2.5 miles! After that the hike is more moderate. One highlights of the trail is the butterscotch-scented Jeffrey pine that are scattered along the trail.

Views of Tahoe are few and narrow, but pretty. The higher you get the prettier the landscape is. At about 3.6 miles, just before you connect with the Bayview trail, you can leave the trail to a low dome of granite on the right. This point is visible from far below on the trail. Only from this dome can you see the waterfalls far below as water leaving the Velma Lakes cascades down toward Eagle Lake. It's only a hundred feet or so of rock hopping to get to this vantage point.

Another .9 miles brings you to the fork where you could go left to Dick's Lake (next time!). From there it's 1.2 miles to the fork at the Velmas. Upper to the left, Middle ahead, and Lower leaving the trail to the right.

The trail continues west of Upper Velma and disappears when you reach the outflow from Lake Fontanillis. Maps show the trail continuing to the next stream but we only found remnants of the trail in a few spots. We went around the south edge of the lake and found a site not far from the stream that comes in from the southeast. Upper Velma's primary source is the waterfall leaving Lake Fontanillis. This waterfall is a must see! There's a nice pool to dip in at the bottom of the cascade. Tuesday morning we climbed the smooth granite slope up to Lake Fontanillis for an amazing view of the Upper Velma Valley with Tahoe beyond.

Carry bug spray if you are hiking in the summer. There are a lot of lush areas and even the drier areas have skeeters! A worker at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center warned us that the Velma Lakes all have lots of mosquitoes.

I gave this trail four stars because it is crowded on the lower portion. Some of this busy area is narrow and difficult to move for others to pass. The trail is in excellent shape though it is easy to lose in places where it traverses smooth granite slopes. Many have shortcut the trail in rocky places, so we tried to help with trail maintenance and redefine edges. Some trail edges are lined with rocks which definitely helps stay on the path!

hiking
2 days ago

hiking
25 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

Monday, August 21, 2017

backpacking
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

backpacking
Sunday, October 09, 2016

Saturday, July 02, 2016

recorded

Sunday, April 19, 2015