A quick trip into Desolation Wilderness via Historic Route in Lake Tahoe

Sierra Rec Magazine – Trail Review – Looking for a short yet beautiful Desolation Experience while visiting Lake Tahoe? The Glen Alpine trailhead located behind Fallen Leaf Lake in Lake Tahoe provides you a great access point for waterfalls, lakes and historic Lake Tahoe features all while crossing a mix of Sierra forests, granite rock cropping, Stream Crossings and incredible panoramic views.

A short 3 mile round trip from the parking lot, the trek up to Grass lake at 7,240 feet has an elevation gain of approx 700 feet. this first part of the hike to the Wilderness Boundary follows an old road into the Historic Glen Alpine Resort. This historic site was the place to visit in the early years of Lake Tahoe history, John Muir even visited once and said “The Glen Alpine Resort seems to be one of the most delightful places in all the famous Tahoe Region.” Founded by historic Explorations of Nathan Gilmore the remains of the old Glen alpine resort and the Mineral Springs still stand today as a fascinating remnant of the Tahoe past.

During early season hikes water is plentiful on this hike and it is nearly impossible to not get your shoes wet as water rushes of the peaks above and the piles of snow that have accumulated all winter in desolation wilderness flow down seasonal creeks and valleys in to the glen alpine falls and Fallen Leaf Lake.

If you are searching for an authentic waterfall hike this trail is for you, as most visitors stop at the Glen Alpine Fall just off the main road and Fallen Leaf Lake, but a short drive past the fall leads you to a paved parking area at the edge of Lilly Lake. this parking area has Pit Toilets and Paved Parking for approx 20 cars. (During Summer season, this lot is full early in the morning and not easy to find open spots as many backpack from this location for days). From this paved lot the Trailhead heads up the road where you will pass old cabins and several other waterfall features along the river as you get to the old Glen Alpine Resort.

Entering Desolation Wilderness the trail will transition into a natural trail following granite out cropping up the valley towards Grass Lake, Susie Lake and the rest of Desolation Wilderness. There are three primary creek crossings that will vary in difficulty based on the water flow on your visit.

Grass Lake is located directly below Susie Lake with Susie Lake waterfall being one of the most see waterfalls in the back country for travelers in the early season each year. Grass Lake is a shallow lake but a great experience in the hot summer season as plenty of water along the trail to help keep you cool. Because of the water and trees Mosquito’s at times can be rather overwhelming at the lake.