Friday, July 27, 2012
For my last hike in the Lake Tahoe Basin I chose a 6 mile loop connecting Granite Lake and Eagle Lake. The hike starts at Bayview Campground and ends at the Eagle Falls parking area. It is advisable to start at Bayview or take a shuttle because the Eagle Falls parking area is busy with tourists. Shuttles operate every 30 minutes. The Bayview Trailhead is a nice place to start a backpacking trip into the Desolation Wilderness because it is a less popular starting spot.
The hike starts at an elevation of 6820 feet and tops out at 8220 feet. It is rocky in places so be careful with your footing. After 2.8 miles hikers reach a junction giving hikers an option to go further in the wilderness toward the Velma Lakes or down to Eagle Lake. The trail from the junction to Eagle Lake is the steepest and rockiest. Watch your footing.
Below looking inside the rugged Desolation Wilderness
Location: Today's hike starts at Bayview Campground on the western side of Lake Tahoe. The trail to Cascade Falls starts at the back of the campground. A trolley from South Tahoe stops at the Emerald Bay Overlook. It is only three dollars for a trip and a great way to keep from fighting the tourist traffic at the lake.
I chose an easier hike today because Nevada was sore from yesterday's hike to Aloha Lake. The hike to Cascade Falls is a 1.4 miles roundtrip with minimal elevation gain. It is perfect for families with small children who want to introduce their kids to hiking. The hike is beautiful with great views of Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe. Be advised the last 0.4 to the falls is rocky.
Location: The location for today's hike is at Echo Summit approximately 11 miles south of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 50. There are two trailheads one at Benwood Meadow and the other at Echo Lake. Benwood Meadow is a popular trailhead for accessing country on the Pacific Crest Trail south of Lake Tahoe. If you want to hike into the Desolation Wilderness it is advisable to park at Echo Lake because it cuts over four miles of hiking. For ten dollars a hiker can take a taxi to the end of Upper Echo Lake. Be advised that the Desolation Wilderness is the most popular wilderness in the lower 48. Expect to see other hikers. A day hiker is required to fill out a day use permit which cost no money. Backpackers need to register at local Ranger Stations.
The Hike: Today I deposited my car at Benwood Meadow with the intention of hiking to Aloha Lake in the Desolation Wilderness. From Benwood Meadow the hike is about 15 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail (as stated previous a visitor can cut of over four miles by starting at Echo Lake). I chose this hike to see beautiful Aloha Lake but also the Echo Lakes, Tamarack Lake, Margery Lake and Lake of the Woods. The hike also required 600 feet of elevation gain; a rarity in the Tahoe Basin. Today I saw many backpackers including a few thru hikers on the PCT. I saw high elevation conifers including ponderosa pine and some impressive stands of whitebark pine. Nevada did well on the hike but, by the end of the day he was really tired.
Impressive striations on the rock