This was a great loop. Sane distance. After 2.6 miles the trail converges with the Bayview Campground trail. Needless to say, my dog Tyson was unable to make the traverse, so I had to carry him by the handle of his pack which required he dangle, yes dangle, over the edge. Stopped at Maggie's Peak South for a great view! Beautiful hike! With packs fully loaded, we started at the Bayview Trailhead to follow the Granite Lake Trail. Let me tell you, preparing for the first backpacking trip of the season was a nail biter. The views of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay were great during the climb. Hike from Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe up the Bayview trail to Lake Fontanillis and Middle Velma Lake. . The two trailheads that offer easiest access to these lakes are both along CA 89 on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, at Bayview Campground and at the parking lot for the short hike (1000 feet) to Upper Eagle Falls just above Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe's western shore. Lots of elevation gain if you start Bayview at the very start up to Maggie’s but the rest of the trail is pleasant and varied. About 2-3" of snow cover for most of the hike, but it was easy enough even without traction. Lots of great views. With them, went the temperature. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until August. The weather the week prior was all over the map, vacillating between rain, thunderstorms, partly cloudy and snow with temperatures forecasted between 27-48 degrees. VERY glad to have brought trekking poles. Break Free From Your Story © 2020. Due to the rocks, I'm glad I had my hiking poles! Still a great day! It’s nonstop uphill but the switchbacks are gentle and there are constant rewards. If you go during the early morning or later in the evening, mosquitos this time of year are gnarly so bring bug spray. Snow only covers parts of the trail after the saddle back for Maggie’s Peak. Trail is pretty easy to follow, and seems well maintained. Lower Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm Castle. Middle Velma Lake To the west high above incredible Emerald Bay of Lake Tahoe is a granite basin filled with pristine mountain lakes in the Desolation Wilderness, three of which are the Velma Lakes, Upper, Middle, and Lower. Eagle Lake Trail is steeper than Granite Lake Trail and is comprised of mostly “steps”. The first 3/4 mile is comprised of switch-backs that lead to a high point with a spectacular view of Lake Tahoe. Parking is located at the far end of the campground where you also have the option to hike to Cascade Falls. Parts of the summit are clear but the trail is still buried. It’s about a mile to the lake, and the trail follows the lakeshore for … Once on dry ground, I learned I had cut up my foot and knee, and filled my boots with water. Traversing Maggies Peak on a ledge the width of only 1 of our feet. Definitely a "moderate" difficulty trail. We hiked past Fontanillas Lake on the second day, crossing another stream on rocks and downed logs, and camped second night at one of the half dozen or fewer campsites along the shore of Dick's Lake. You can also follow this same creek all the way down to Lower Velma, which is what we did on a day hike the next day. EASY 2.7 mi. While we encountered some other backpackers and day hikers alike, the trail was by no means crowded. In no particular hurry, we ate breakfast, packed up, and hit the trail about 8:35pm. I enjoyed this hike and the views. Difficulty: Difficult Elevation: 6910′ / 8440′ Mileage (one way): 1 to 5 miles Directions to Trailhead: To reach the Bayview hiking trail take Highway 89 north from South Lake Tahoe approximately 8 miles to the Bayview Campground across from Inspiration Point. There’s so many more switchbacks than the trail suggests when you zoom in so it logged a little over 10.5 mi for us roundtrip. 6. You will then pass by an unnamed smaller lake on the left side of the trailand after about 4 1/2 miles you will reach Middle Velma Lake off to your right. Steep uphill at the beginning. The map below-Left focuses on the route of the TYT … The river crossing of course, was at the beginning of the trek and given the ease in which I had crossed it the day prior I made the silly decision to cross it without my water shoes. When I was there in June, we’ve seen a couple of people, but not the crowds we expected. My first foot hit the flat granite and down I went. This is a 9 mile moderately strenuous hike from the Bay View Trailhead to Velma Lakes where we’ll stop for lunch. Continue the loop by backtracking to the trail junction just before Middle Velma, and follow the trail uphill to Fontanellis Lake. First 2.5 miles or so is quite strenuous, rising about 1,300 ft in elevation over steep switchbacks. Bay View Trail to Eagle Lake - Bay View to Velma Lake to Emerald Bay Hike WHAT: End of season hike on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. That, my friends, was an adventure to be relayed another day. Trailhead : Miles One Way: Difficulty: Twin Lakes to: Grouse Lake: 2.1: Moderate/Difficult : Hemlock Lake I'm new to backpacking. Middle Velma is a gorgeous lake, and we were lucky to have no one in our immediate area. Starting from Eagle falls Trailhead to Eagle Lake, Upper Velma Lake, Middle Velma Lake, Fontanillis Lake ( Campsite) , Dicks Lake and coming back with Bayview trail. There was still some snow on the surrounding slopes that created a stunning cascade that spilled into the western side of the lake. We learned from the ranger, there was a 30% chance of showers around 2pm, into the evening, and snow on the ground at higher elevations. I started at first light (6am), and had to use my flashlight to find the trail a couple times early on. Unnamed Pond The Velma Lakes are a popular destination for hikers into the Desolation Wilderness coming from Lake Tahoe. One stream to cross close to the Velmas, but a steeping stone bridge allowed us to stay in our hiking boots and not get feet wet. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Sadly, just prior to the Maggies Peak trail, we followed the wrong set of tracks and found ourselves on a precarious slope. Granite lake is full and very pretty. This is just the first bit of picturesque freshwater bodies on this hike. The original plan was to continue on the Granite Lake trail up to Dick’s Lake, only to follow the PCT across Dick’s Pass to Middle Velma. We see access 1.45 miles West to Camper Flat in Rockbound Valley. THE GOOD NEWS: After the first couple miles, the trail mellows significantly. At the Bayview Trail junction turn right, and head toward the Velma Lakes. While the serenity of our camp was gone, the adventure was far from over. We loved lunch on the Velma lakes! Watch out for yellow-jackets at campground entrance. With lighter packs, it was a welcomed change and the scenery (The view of Eagle Lake, and Eagle Falls) was just different enough to make it all worth it. Bayview trailhead, up, up, up is the name of the game until you get to the ridge above Granite Lake. The hike to Eagle Lake is very popular so you can expect to see many, many day hikers on the trail to Eagle Lake, and expect to see many hikers making their way to the Velma … Part of the reason why this is one of the best hikes in Lake Tahoe is because you’ll travel along two other notable hikes: Eagle Lake and Emerald Point View. Summary: This is a great semi-loop hike in the Desolation Wilderness southwest of Lake Tahoe. Day hikers may pick up a day-use permit at the self serve area at the Trailhead. To end the hike you can go back the way you came from towards Bayview Campground and end up at your parked car. Bayview Trail to Velma Lakes is a 10.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Tahoma, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The rest of the trail to Middle Velma Lake is a mildly undulating route through mixed forest and around granite … but once you crest the top, the views are awesome! A hiking blog with a little something extra. Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Step Into Your Journey….. Continued to Velma Lakes for one night. At the River, we learned from hikers on the other side that we should head up stream to the log. The ambitious or hikers with time can make this a loop by continuing onto Fontanellis and Middle Velma Lake before rejoining the trail back to Bayview. Continue on the trail for another ¼ mile to Middle Velma. Areas not covered in snow were swamp like and we worried finding a dry place to set up would be difficult. A Wilderness Permit is required to enter Desolation Wilderness. Beautiful. Along the way, the trail will contour along part of Upper Velma Lake. Barefoot, with my boots in one hand, and Tyson in the other I stepped into the freezing water. Trekking on, although we were meandering on flat ground through the forest, the snow was plentiful and the trail could not be seen. climb to Maggies which boasts an amazing view! On our return, we’ll take the Emerald Bay Trail past Eagle Lake to Eagle Falls overlooking Emerald Bay. All Rights Reserved. Absolutely gorgeous. Continue west for another 2.2 miles where the trail meets the PCT by Middle Velma Lake. With me thankful to not be floating downstream and him thoroughly confused by the sudden situation, I carefully hoisted us up off the granite. Velma provided serene lakeside view-complete with lots of jumping trout!! We awoke to the sun rising over the ridge and what a welcome site that was. Always wear your water shoes, and unbuckle your pack in case you go down. Hikers have the option to complete a 5 mile hike by catching the Eagle Falls Trail and ending the trip at the Eagle Falls Trailhead. 7. Beautiful day. The trail was an alternating pattern of dirt and granite rocks to maneuver around. So many nice views. Trailheads on El Dorado National Forest (West) Side. We had been told it was passable, with some stating there was a log that could be used for crossing. Details: Middle Velma Lake - Desolation Wilderness Trail Head At: Bayview Trailhead Campground, South Lake Tahoe Length: 10 Miles Elevation Gain: 2100 Feet This was our first time backpacking Desolation Wilderness in South Tahoe and we absolutely loved it! The hike to the overlook is about 0.5 miles from the trailhead. They say good things come in threes, and it’s true when you embark on this 8-mile (round-trip) hike in Tahoe’s Desolation Wilderness. erikaw 1 year, 1 month ago Track (9/1/19, 12:10:26PM) ... Maggies Peaks via Bayview Trail. Thankfully, our reward was the end of the climb and remarkable views down the valley to Eagle Lake. Day 1: Saturday finally arrived and while it was drizzling in Vacaville, from where we left, it was looking to be relatively dry on the trail until about 2pm. Such a great area!!! Very steep at the beginning, but a beautiful hike overall! This got us to Highway 50, where on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend it looked like Disneyland’s parking lot. Go do this one if you're in the area and weather permits. Middle Velma Lake. Shortly after that you will reach an intersection for Velma Lakes and Dicks Lake, go right to Velma Lakes. This was a great trail on which to build a 3 day, 2 night trip starting 8/19. The skies were grey, but the rain had not yet shown itself. EASY 1.9 mi. Overall great loop. Head north on the PCT for 1.2 miles to the junction with the Phipps Pass trail. Bayview Campground serves as a Trailhead for Desolation Wilderness. Thankfully, we found an area, sheltered by granite boulders, close to the lake and dry enough to set up camp. Pass by another junction for Dick's Pass and Dick's Lake heading off to the left. Back on the main road after the trail is a very interesting mosiac fish statue. As we finally began our descent we noted the Eagle Lake Trail junction and thought perhaps that would be our route home for different scenery and to avoid the snow we had just encountered. Preferring not to wade knee to waist deep in the freezing and swiftly moving water we did just that. Returning to camp we settled in, ate our dinner, and just as clean up began the rain drops started. Just enough variety to make things interesting. It’s a climb up to Maggie’s peak but it’s absolutely worth it! Tucking that thought away, we were back on relatively snow free ground, but now found ourselves hiking in a good amount of water as the “trail” had become a freeway for the snow melt. Heading to Desolation Wilderness, Middle Velma Lake to be exact, with snow still in them there mountains was questionable. Going down is even better, because you’ll have an amazing view over Emerald Bay. Would recommend water shoes or flip flops for the water crossing before the lakes. My previous experiences in the high country were on horse and packed mules. Definitely recommend! If you want this to be a full loop hike, use the Eagle Falls trail instead. To get back to our car (at the Bayview Campground) we had to walk on Highway 50, uphill and across traffic, for a mile. Note: the trailhead parking lot fills up fast so plan to arrive by 8:00. this trail was good and would have been better in a couple weeks! Climbed on top of Maggie's Peak for lunch with view. Camped at Dicks and Middle Velma both spots were great and had great swimming. I doubt there will be enough snow melt in the next few weeks to clear the trail to the summit and beyond that will be a month or more. The first 2 miles are pretty steep, but it calms a bit as you go beyond that. This is a beautiful trail. Beautiful. After leaving Eagle Lake, the trail climbs steeply, eventually reaching a fork for Velma Lakes and Bayview Camp, go right to Velma Lakes. Had we not been so terrified, a picture of that would have been priceless. You can easily rest at granite lake. Bayview Trail goes for about 2 miles before you reach the next trail junction for Middle Velma Lake. We (4 adults, 1 dog) did this in about 8 hours which includes a 1+ hour lunch and swim break plus shorter stops at vistas and other alpine lakes. Following the footsteps of others before us, with occasional help from our GPS, we continued. Bayview Trail to Velma Lakes is a 10.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Tahoma, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. Dicks Lake, Gilmore Lake, and Lake Aloha from Cascade Lake, Eagle Falls Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake to Dicks Lake to Suzie Lake, Granite Lake, Dick's Lake, Velma Lake, and Eagle Lake Loop, Eagle Falls to Lake Schmidell and Lake Louis, Eagle Falls Trail to Bayview Trail Junction, Eagle Falls Trailhead to Glen Alpine Trailhead, Maggie's Peak, Eagle Lake, Granite Lake Loop. This trailhead will also continue on to Upper, Middle and Lower Velma lakes as well as many other spectacular cirque lakes and alpine granitic landscape along this trail head. The trail was not too crowded & all hikers as usual were very respectful of social distancing when passing. Still manageable, still cold, still gorgeous. Take the Velma Lakes Trail on right and continue north. Dogs are also able to use this trail. Although the cold was keeping most wildlife away, the songs of the birds was soothing to the soul. Trail Conditions Backpacking to Middle Velma Lake is an amazing opportunity, something that is recommended for everyone. Middle Velma Lake Trail is a 9.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Tahoma, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. There is a water crossing, to get to Middle Velma, which is essentially the mouth of the river between the two lakes. We did this as a single overnight backpacking trip so we could take our time. 4 miles in soaking wet socks and boots, over the snow, with injuries was necessary, but didn’t sound particularly fun. Next time I’ll head for Dick’s or Fontanelli Lakes. Heading down toward Middle Velma Lake. With a lot of team work, we managed to get the three of us (and the dog) safely across. The middle Velma was less impressive than I’d hoped. Emerald Bay early in the morning from near the trailhead. We had lunch and turned back. While the night temps had not dropped to freezing, as forecasted, the sun was energizing. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Donning my water shoes and rolling up my pants I successfully, and rather easily, carried my dog across. The trailhead is very congested and parking can be difficult if you do not reach the trailhead early. Two lessons learned…. A half-mile down, across a creek, continue northwest to Middle Velma Lake. Fantastic hard hike. Return hike diverted to Eagle Lake trail down, which was beautiful, but a little more traffic. North Desolation Wilderness Backpacking That puts backpacking loops out of Eagle Falls or Bayview Trailheads to Middle Velma past Fontanillis Lake back to our respective trailhead at 10.33 miles South Shore and West Shore Tahoe is loaded with lodging opportunities! You’ll come to a creek crossing that requires some rock hopping as there’s no bridge. If you insist on trying for Velma Lake bring real crampons and poles and make sure you have a gps or AllTrails (and bring an extra battery pack for your phone - this app is a battery hog trying to find a signal). Step Into Your Journey….. It's 2.49 miles from Middle Velma Lake to the trail junction South of Fontanillis Lake. The only downfall to this trail is that the closer we got to Eagle Falls, the more crowded it became. Bay View Campground is located across the Inspiration Point Trolley stop above Emerald Bay! We took a moment to rest and enjoy the view, but each of us was wet from hugging the snowy slopes and on the ridge the temperatures had dropped significantly with the wind picking up a bit. We took a long weekend, hiked to Middle Velma Lake, and were blown away by the alpine… After passing Granite Lake, make your way up steep granite … The cool temps were a blessing, because as you have probably read elsewhere, the Granite Lake trail immediately starts on a significant incline. Great views on the climb up and at the summit. Opting to experience something new, with less snow, we went that route. The temps were in the 80's during the day and only dipped to about 50 at night. The snow made us turn around at one point, but it was a beautiful hike! This first lake, I would imagine, is a great place to take a dip in warmer weather and would be your first chance to filter water, if needed. Moral of the story, get there early. Once at the Dick’s Pass trail head, though, that was not something we desired to fulfill due to the significant amount of snow in the area. My son (12) and I are new to backpacking. This trail is about a mile long and takes you past Upper Velma Lake to the left, straight to Middle Velma. The place was packed, and the traffic was bumper to bumper. We did get to see views of Middle Velma … You can get past a few sections and manage to pick up the trail but eventually the trail is completely buried. Going down towards Eagle Falls was a bit tough. The rain was not hard, and it was not significantly stormy; just steady enough to cause our retreat to bed at 8:15. Thankfully, the sun shining on the snow banks, the birds singing their songs, and the reflections on the water made all that was transpiring seem insignificant. We were quickly thrust from the serenity of the back country into the reality of a tourist zone. The hike starts at Bayview Trailhead (Latitude: 38.938619 | Longitude: -120.14197). Enjoy the solitude. Break Free From Your Story, Saving Grace ~ By Guest Author Rhianna Moehrke, Miles in to Middle Velma via Granite Lake Trail – 5.41, Miles out to the car via Eagle Lake Trail – 5.80, Total Elevation Gain – 1654 (Day 1), 613 (Day 2). There are two trailheads to the Velma Lakes area, one is the Eagle Falls Trail Head and the Bay View Trailhead, all located on Emerald Bay Road (easy parking if you arrive early). Initial challenge of incline levels off in about 2 miles. Some pretty long, steep climbs up to the ridge, but well worth it. Because the snow covered the trail, we are not sure where the trail is in relation to the log as we are not entirely sure we went to the water via the trail. It gives you three excellent lake vistas: Eagle Lake, Middle Velma Lake, and Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe. From the trailhead, follow signs to Eagle Lake. Mosquitos were present around the lakes and in the forested areas of the trail, especially at 8,000+ elevation, but they're pretty slow and easy to kill. The trail from Bayview trailhead is colored with beauty all along the route and makes for a nice day in the open outdoors. My dog, well, he was along for the ride and had no say. The higher we went, the more difficult route finding was, and we were thankful for the plotted maps and GPS tracking we had with us. Skirt around the shore of Upper Velma and you will come to a creek crossing that will take you to Middle Velama. Beautiful, highlights were Phipps pass and found a small little unnamed lake that was amazing and full of life. We even added the short (steep!) Small enough patches to allow for trail finding on the other side, but deep enough to require slow and careful footing to avoid post holing. Many short options and loops are possible with this trail. Stopping for lunch, we enjoyed the views of Dick’s Peak/Pass fully covered in snow and the surrounding mountain range. Before dinner we set off on a hike to the East and ran into the river where some rather spectacular waterfalls could be seen. Significantly colder quick. In the early part of the hike you walk past Upper Eagle F alls and Eagle Lake (requires side-trail). Craig North of Bayview Camp Trail Intersection Notice snow in background (end of August). Follow the trail west past Eagle Lake. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. At this point it becomes a scramble up loose dirt and rock and snow. However, snow starts to cover the trail shy of the summit at about 8100 feet. Brad Branan: 916-321-1065 , @BradB_at_SacBee They made the hills and stream crossings so much easier to cover safely. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until August. Follow the sign towards Desolation. Ever so slowly, we made our way across. It was just plain cold. We had a quiet trek back up the mountain until ultimately coming to the Eagle Lake Trail Junction. Avoid meddle Velma way to many people, felt almost like car camping. Had I fallen backwards I would have been strapped to my 40 pound pack floating away with the current. There were three of us scheduled to make the trek and we all agreed that short of thunderstorms or snow blizzards we were going to give it go. 8. We set up camp, enjoyed some hot tea, and relished in the fact that it really didn’t seem that cold. Saw mountain lion tracks outside our tent at Middle Velma so make sure all food is secured away from tents and what not (ours were and no issue!) Eagle Falls or Bayview Trailhead access to Middle Velma, Fontanillis, and Dicks Lakes along the combined route of the TYT-PCT-TRT. We did not see very many people along this part of the trail. 2 miles up, to be exact, so even though we were hiking in 46-degree weather, we were all sweating. Middle Velma Lake to Eagle Falls Trailhead. Mud and mosquitos but rather warm nights and serenity. The trail is well maintained but does tend to get a little difficult in the starting few miles. The trek from the lake to Eagle Falls trailhead/parking lot was about 5 miles. Middle Velma is well-worth an overnight if you’re looking to backpack. The shade of the pines on the hike up caused a chilly morning to be even chillier. First snow today was incredible. Trekking poles aren’t necessary but really nice to have on the way down - there are many boulders and rocks to maneuver around. Maggie's Peaks just south of the trailhead. Music is the final movement of Grieg's Piano Concerto. The Bayview trail begins with mellow ascent beneath redwoods with Emerald Bay on your right up to Granite Lake on your left. The trek out to Middle Velma is 7.6 miles roundtrip, but you can add to it depending on how many other lakes you want to see. Hiking the Bay View trail gives you several beautiful vistas of Lake Michigan, the farms, and North and South Manitou Islands. Head west on the Phipps Pass trail to approximately 8800 feet. This view is from the bench on top of the hill just across Thoreson Road from the trailhead. Instead, we chose to take a right onto the Velma Lakes Trail where we again had some route-finding difficulty due to the snow. While climbing away from Eagle Lake there are great views looking down. Eagle Lake via Eagle Falls Trail. A longer, yet still moderate hike, the trek to Middle Velma Lake is well worth the effort. 8. Thankfully, next to it, was an area in the river that was ankle deep and comprised of flat granite. This is a well-maintained trail, with much to see, and good views of the lake about half way to Granite Lake. There is a water crossing, to get to Middle Velma, which is … While the log was too narrow for me to cross with my dog, others were managing it just fine. For more detailed information clickhere. Loose gravel on rock and rocky steep steps but not too terrible if prepared. This trail is a bit steep for the first 2 mi. There was plenty of powdery snow to sink into. Consider heading to Maggie's Peak or create a loop with Eagle Falls Trail, or head higher into the wilderness and Velma Lake, near the PCT. Trail Description: The two main trail heads for Upper Velma are Eagle Lakes or Bayview.We chose Bayview, one, because we camped the night before at the Bayview Campground, two, because it saves you a few hundred feet of climbing, and three, because the … Because of the snow, we were unable to fully ascertain how many camp sites there really are around the lake. And at the river that was route and makes for a nice day in the morning! 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