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.

backpacking
4 days ago

Amazing views, great trail. We hiked this from Carson pass and it was about 12-14 miles total. Even in the middle of summer, there were snow here and there and it got pretty cold at night. During the day it was great and people were coming up to fish in the lake. Beautiful spot, we will be going back

Great trail. Decently challenging, but the destination is rewarding. We spent our first night at Aloha, and the next 4 at Susie

One of the most beautiful Lakes in Desolation. A favorite destination. Climb the peak at the north end of the lake with the lone pine tree on top for a spectacular view of Lake Aloha and Lake of the Woods.

One of the best hikes I did near Tahoe area. If you are doing the loop just as AllTrails, make sure you plan early. This one can be a long hike with so many scenic points that one day feels to be on a tight schedule. I did the loop starting from Bayview trail and ending at Eagle creek trailhead.
If you are climbing from Eagle falls side, be aware that its somewhat steep compared to Granite Lake side. Rest assured, the views at Dicks Lake and Fontanillis Lake make up very much for the effort. Would like to plan a backpacking trip next year just before snow completely melts away. Definitely one of the top hikes near South Lake Tahoe.

Went up via Glen Alpine, great little hike. Was surprised to see so much water still, the falls were running strong! Here's to another great winter!

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked here from Aloha Lake - ~10 mi round trip. Steep climb up to the lake, but lovely little lunch spot. Had hoped to summit to Mt Tallac but had to turn back due to the time. Plenty of spots to camp around if you get up here!

Had a great weekend at Lake of the Woods. I think this is the best place in Desolation to camp. There's an awesome rock face nearby you can climb that has great views of lake Aloha and the surrounding area.
Wasn't too cold this past weekend, didn't notice any mosquitos. The hike is pretty steep and rocky going up, have good shoes because the rocks get hard on the feet after a while.
If you catch a warm day on your hike back, don't miss the small trail down to the water about 1/4 a mile from the trailhead. We had a great time swimming around hanging out here

4 months ago

beautiful, well worth it.

great alpine views and swimming

hiking
4 months ago

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.

backpacking
4 months ago

Did this last week as a solo overnighter, I included a summit of Dicks Peak on the second day. Trail starts out steep all the way to Granite Lake, then levels off for a minute before climbing again steeply toward Maggie's Peak. It's a beautiful area but in the summer this section of the trail can be an absolute zoo! Once above the switchbacks the people traffic dropped off sharply and it seemed a pretty quick trek down and over to the Velma Lakes. I didn't see a trail heading to lower Velma but if you have a map and even an average sense of direction it's an easy find.

After checking out lower Velma I continued on to Middle Velma and then up to Fontanillis Lake for the night to camp. There didn't seem to be much in the way of open space around the lake but I probed around a bit on the west side and found a beautiful spot to set up. A breathtaking view and good fishing to boot! Even in August there wasn't a single other person around that I saw.

After waking early I continued onto the intersection with the PCT. This is where my hike detoured a bit as I wanted to bag Dicks Peak while I was out there. After stashing my pack I headed up and over Dicks Pass. Even if you aren't heading up the mountain, a trip over the pass itself is amazing: endless views in all directions! Dicks Peak via Dicks Pass is certainly not for the casual hiker; requiring some steep hard class III scrambling over very loose rock. I would absolutely not recommend trying to take a dog up here.

After a difficult false summit I made the top and the views were the best I've seen from any Peak in Desolation. You're smack dab in the middle of everything so everything from Round Top to Pyramid Peak to Freel and beyond is on show here. Spectacular and worth the extra effort!

The way back was a bit of a blur as I hadn't gotten too much sleep the night before, but I was back at my truck by 6pm.

The Eagle Lake and Bayview trailheads are probably my least favorite to access the Desolation Wilderness, but that's solely because of the very high amount of traffic they get. However, as with all things Desolation, once you get a few miles in you're very much on your own.

backpacking
4 months ago

I loved this hike! Very easy to do, most of the hike is flat going through beautiful meadows. In the beginning and end (near Showers Lake) there was elevation gains to climb. Very little snow left and trail was easy to follow. Some wild flowers still but spring and early summer would be the best time to see them. I will definitely return to explore the area more. The trail was not too crowded at all which was nice. Definitely a good choice if you're looking for a good moderate hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing hike!! Beautiful meadows and a very enjoyable moderate hike. Some wild flowers still in bloom but Spring or early Summer would be a better time for full blooms. A little snow left and lots of little creeks. Showers Lake is gorgeous! It's a definite must see/do hike! I will return to hike more of the area!!

My Garmin shows we did 21.3 miles on this loop. We also decided to do this loop C'Clock wise and started from the Parking lot of Big Meadows Trail head.
Our Goal was to make Showers Lake for day 1. That's fine but it was 12.4 miles mostly up hill.( 2425' elev. gain in 9.6 miles) Add an extra hour to your plans if you do this with heavy night packs.
From Big Meadow parking lot we walked down Upper Truckee Rd and caught the Hawley Grade Trail. The trail was up hill but not bad at all! We hit hwy 50 and a short trek to the Adventure Mountain parking area got us back on trail. Note, the trail starts just before the gate.
Day 1 was hard but finished up with very easy 8 remaining miles on day 2. Mostly flat and down hill after Showers lake.
Awesome views all the way.

backpacking
4 months ago

Amazingly beautiful hike through the wildflowers!

hiking
5 months ago

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
5 months ago

Did this trail to get to Clyde lake. There was an ice cave right before heather. Lake Susie and aloha and absolutely beautiful

hiking
5 months ago

Did a quick out and back hike to look for backpacking trails. Found my next trip

This is now my favorite local trail. There was a cool ice cave right before lake heather and lake aloha was just beautiful!

Make sure you bring mosquito repellent. It was impossible to stop at the first few creeks and ponds without being swarmed by them

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