Explore the most popular backpacking trails near South Lake Tahoe with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Very nice well marked trail. Pretty much all uphill on-way but nothing too hard. Very pleasant scenery. Would be awesome around october because of all the aspen trees. Although I hiked it, it would be a nice beginner MTB trail. Some rocks at the beginning you could walk but a good trail without death cliffs. :)

Although not as immediately grand as Lake Aloha or Clyde Lake, Lake of the Woods is really just as beautiful and has the added bonus of feeling even more secluded and peaceful. Plus you can always add Lake Aloha to this hike as it isn't much further.

hiking
29 days ago

This is a really good trail, with outstanding scenery.

Like Albert below, I did this trail in reverse and started with the steep ascent up to the saddle. I didn’t actually find it hard to spot the trail at all, although I did it today (October 22) and it was fairly well worn in after a season. I think going uphill makes the trail easier to spot too. In spring or summer the leaves on the bushes might make it a little trickier. Either way, don’t be put off by the reviews below.

After reaching the saddle the rest of the route was mainly downhill, with the additional advantage that most of the views are in front of you as you walk.

It took me 7 and a quarter hours with plenty of breaks, and my watch says that my moving time was 5 and a half hours. My watch recorded the route as 22.3km or 13.8 miles, which is a bit longer than AllTrails describes it.

Thoroughly good trail, and I’d love to do it again.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing, beautiful, majestic! Mellow climb the entire way, nothing to make the rating more than moderate. BUT!!! Beware the last two miles unless you have the gift of clairvoyance and are a mountain goat. The trail becomes hard to find along a steep cliff side. I lost the trail multiple times whilst crawling along the mountain slopes. It was difficult but the views.... the views were amazing. I would recommend the last stretch only for serious hikers/climbers.

backpacking
1 month ago

Amazing trail!

hiking
1 month ago

This was an amazing trail. It's a great deep dive into Desolation with visits to multiple lakes and sweeping views, despite not including scaling a peak. Each leg of the trail is more spectacular than the last, and it's gorgeous from the start. The view of Lake Aloha from the top of Mosquito pass is stunning. There's still plenty of water in parts of Aloha despite it being so late in the season. I'm looking forward to doing this one again early next summer.

hiking
1 month ago

Completed this trail with two friends and small dog. Nothing major for the majority of the way. Typical desolation hike in that the trail is a lot of large rocks and dirt.

Trail head at the end of the parking lot with a vehicle gate across it. First two miles are pretty uneventful with only the soda springs and old resort to be seen. Preservation work is going on at the resort. Please be considerate of that.

The rest of the trail is switch back upon switch back until you reach the top. Coming from the east coast, I was fairly used to this.

The lake is as beautiful as the pictures show. Crystal clear, blue, rimmed with mountains. The water is still as glass and cold as ice.

Stayed up there for about an hour.

Total trip about 6 hours.

hiking
1 month 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.

hiking
1 month ago

I did this trip on 8/23/18. This was my first time in the Desolation Wilderness and I loved every minute of it. The hike to Gilmore isn't too hard and the trail is easy to follow. Lake Gilmore is a beautiful lake and when I was there I was the only one around. I went to Mt. Tallac from Gilmore and it it sure easier than the North side of fallen Leaf Lake. Of course the views are spectacular and for me especially viewing the mountains looking toward desolation wilderness. i went back to Gilmore and returned the same way. Great hike and not too hard.

hiking
1 month ago

I did this hike two weeks ago and it was great! I starting in the direction of the Tamarac Trail instead of Glen Alpine and I was glad because the trail is kind of tough and hard to follow till you get to the top. I would rather get the hardest part of the hike over early when I have more energy, wouldn't have wanted to come down this way after a long hike. The view of the Echo Lakes and Tamarac and Ralston Lakes are great. I also stopped by Lake of the Woods, it hardly adds much time to the trip and is well worth it. This was my first time seeing Lake Aloha and I think it is spectacular. The water level was pretty low but i think it made the visual impact even more dramatic. l'm looking forward to going back in the late spring to see it with more water. Heather and Suzie Lakes are great as is the rest of the trail to Glen Alpine Trailhead.I thought only the Tamarac trail was hard and the rest of the trip is moderate hiking. This is one of the best hikes I've had and I love the Desolation Wilderness.

Lovely fall hike with awesome lakes and big views

backpacking
2 months ago

This was a great hike beautiful landscape..up hill for about 4 or so miles then down a bit..and look for water falls..and if you have a dog please have shoes for them this will tear up feet

2 months ago

We just walked 2 1/2 miles out and back - to the top of the Meiss Valley - but the views are spectacular!

backpacking
2 months 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

I did this loop clockwise. From the snow park it was 12 miles to Showers Lake.
That left me with only 8 miles to finish up on day 2. That 8 miles is tough either way you do it.
This hike offers great views and nice places to camp.
It's starting to cool off! We had high winds and temps in the low 40 to high 30's.

hiking
2 months ago

Overall a great hike! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was a perfect day hike... Took us about 3 hours to hike in and 2 hours to hike out.

There is parking directly at the trailhead. Arrive early (before 8:30am) to get parking there; otherwise, you may have to park along the road closer to Fallen Leaf Lake.

The first mile or so of the hike is incredibly rocky. Be prepared to have unstable footing over large gravel and cobble stones (no boulders, though). This was mildly annoying, but fine if you have good hiking boots and decent balance.

Once on the trail, the directions are not entirely clear. Once you get to the Glen Alpine Spring Resort, follow the sign that points toward “trails to wilderness.” Past that, you will come across three wooden direction posts on your way to Susie Lake. At the first post, follow the arrow toward “Gilmore Lake.” At the second post, follow the arrow toward “Lake Aloha.” At the last post, follow the arrow toward “Susie Lake.” Susie Lake is less than a mile past the last post.

The lake itself is beautiful! We hung a hammock along the shore to eat our lunch (plenty of shade and trees) and enjoy the A+ views.

Depending on the time of year, water is pretty scarce along the trail until you get to the lake (we hiked this at the beginning of September). We packed a water filter and replenished our water at Susie Lake for our hike back down the trail.

Like Adam Ruff says below, it was the perfect overnight trip :). We started with the Tamarack Trail and camped at Susie Lake and did Mt. Tallac before heading home. It was surprisingly warm at night. This is a gorgeous place to visit and a great trail to explore it with. Note: The trailhead was tricky to find. It starts out winding uphill into thick vegetation. Be in good shape if you plan to complete this trail in two days.

this was a easy hike,the last two miles was uphill,it was crowded this pass weekend,we camp near the lake,few hikers show up late with head lights on,and since it was dark they saw my camp first and decided to came feet away,had no respect for other campers

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked from the Glen Alpine TH on 08/29/18. Like most trials in the Desolation Wilderness, rocks and more rocks. Nice lake, but no signs of fish activity, BUT there were signs of bear activity. Evidently, a bear was at the camp site 50 yards from mine and climbed a tree to get to the food bags. The bear was approximately 25 yards from the the group camping there and stayed there devouring their food while they helplessly watched in fear banging on pots and pans and blowing whistles. After 45 minutes, the bear left fat and happy! Well, we are in their homes, and bears will be bears.

Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Aloha, Mount Tallac Loop Day Hike. This phrase on the description of this hike is what inspired me to do this hike: "This is a multi day backpacking trip that requires navigational and back country skills." I agree with the fact it requires more than beginner skills, but it can be done as a day hike. Trail is completely open and now one of my favorites in the southern Desolation Wilderness area. Stunning views of Crystal Range around every corner and a new lake it seems every mile or so, however, Aloha, Twin Lakes and Smith Lake now have company with Heather Lake top my list of backcountry lakes . Aloha is getting low now for the season, all other lakes still full-ish. I choose Tamarak Trail up towards Aloha and then finished with Tallac Summit. Not for a beginner as some terrain is very unstable, but if you've done Desolation hikes before, and felt you needed more, this is your one. Would have been a perfect overnight hike/camp.

Beautiful wildflower display right now in mid July!

2 months ago

What a gem of a lake. well worth the hike.

3 months ago

Beautiful lake !

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.

This was a great trail with amazing views. We took our dogs who did great. Went clockwise which seemed like the right choice at the end. The decent to adventure mountain was a steep decline. Adventure mountain was closed for the season but there is a small parking lot just before the gate. We parked at Johnson Pass rd. And added about another 2 mi. to the trip. I wasn’t a fan of the several freeway crossings or the fact that I camped right next to a coyote den in big Meadow. But other than that it was great!

backpacking
3 months ago

Came here instead of Aloha Lake because we couldn’t find a permit. Absolutely gorgeous, totally manageable hike leading to an absolute playground. Round Lake itself is a tiny Oasis with an absolutely gorgeous view of the entire Tahoe Valley if you’re willing to do a little climbing. Despite camping relatively close to the lake we experienced no bugs, the weather was perfect, and we even caught a little meteor shower. What more can you ask for?

Make sure you check out the other Lakes too.

hiking
3 months ago

Great view at the end. Take an invigorating shower under the small waterfall. Be prepared for lots of rubble.

We were aiming for Aloha but decided to head down to Lake Of The Woods en route. So glad we did! Despite all the smoke from the CA fires, it was a beautiful lake that we pretty much had to ourselves :) I can’t wait to do it again on a clear day! Rocky trail would benefit from hiking poles....

backpacking
3 months ago

Had a great time this weekend hiking to Showers. However, I’m confused. Title says Showers, but description doesn’t quite get you there. Luckily, there are maps at the Carson Pass station. Grab one! The trail starts as described. A moderate ascent, then down into a meadow, we stayed on the PCT, after the cabins to your left, you will come to some wood posts with one distinctly directing you towards Showers. There will be one more ascent around mi 4.3 and at 5.5 you should be at Showers. We set up camp on the boulder side which was good as we were protected from the howling winds. In the summer I would leave no later than 1 pm to get to the lake at a reasonable time and find a good camp spot. Oh and we got engaged!! So now it’s my favorite :)

3 months ago

Wow. A great hike.

Load More