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Hiking Desolation Wilderness – Dick’s Lake

Spring is upon us, which means that hiking season is not far off.  Nearby Desolation Wilderness is a perfect choice for a day hike or overnight backpacking trip.  I’ve worn down more than a few pairs of hiking boots there over the years, and never tire of the views, the lakes and the wildflowers.

One of my favorite Desolation hikes is to Dick’s Lake via the Bayview Trail, which starts at Emerald Bay at the Bayview Campground.  At approximately 10 miles round trip, it’s not a short hike, but the views, scenery and lakes you encounter along the way are well worth it.

Lake Tahoe day hike to Desolation Wilderness

The trail starts with a climb, but is broken up by stunning views (including an overlook approximately a quarter-mile up) and Granite Lake within the first mile.  You top out at Maggie’s Peak another half mile up, which provides sweeping vistas of both Desolation Wilderness and Lake Tahoe.  From there the trail descends slightly and joins up with the Eagle Falls trail, continuing on for another 2 miles to Dick’s Lake, which is a popular fishing and camping spot.  It’s well worth packing a picnic lunch and making a day of it.

For the more ambitious, you can make this hike into a loop by continuing onto Fontanellis and Middle Velma Lake before rejoining the trail back to Bayview.

Maps of the Desolation Wilderness hiking trails are available at Tahoe South visitor centers and at the Lake Tahoe U.S. Forest Service offices.  For day hikes in the Desolation Wilderness, permits are required and can be obtained at any trailhead.  Overnight visitors do need to get a permit beforehand from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Offices.

Whether you’re a former girl scout (like I am) or not, it’s important to be prepared when hiking.  I always carry a backpack that contains the following:

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Map
  • A light waterproof jacket
  • Sunblock & lip balm
  • Bug spray
  • Small first aid kit (including emergency blanket)
  • Small pocket knife
  • A hat
  • A warmer layer (depending on the time of year)
  • Camera
  • Small headlamp

What are some of your favorite hikes in Tahoe South? 


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Jenn Gleckman

Jenn, who moved to Lake Tahoe in 1999, is in tourism marketing for MarketingProfs. She admits to spending as much time as possible playing outside, ideally on her skis or mountain bike.

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