Hiking into Desolation Wilderness via Bayview Trail

A popular destination for visitors to Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay offers up several trailheads that not only allow you to explore vistas around the bay but enter into one of the most visited wilderness areas on the planet. Desolation Wilderness is a truly special location that has tremendous day access as well as overnight or weekend backpacking adventures for visitors and locals alike. The Bayview Trailhead at Emerald Bay is located at the backend of Bayview campground and is a heavily trafficked area that hundreds of day hikers and backpackers flow through each weekend.  Although parking can be difficult at Bayview Trailhead, this trail offers visitors several key features which make this a great location to gain a full experience of both Lake Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness.

Emerald Bay from the Bayview Trail

Cascade Falls

Granite Lake / Maggies Peak / Desolation Backcountry

Velma Lakes

Azure Lake

Snow Lake

Hike Up To Bayview For Iconic Shot Of Emerald Bay

For some traveling around Lake Tahoe for the day looking for those Iconic Shots of the Lake is what adventure is all about. For those looking for an incredible view of Emerald Bay, you will love the vista view from Bayview Trail. Now have you ever heard the term “your going to have to earn it!”  – Welcome to the “Earn it” Iconic View of Emerald Bay. This is a short .6 mile hike up a rather steep well-maintained dirt trail from the Bayview Parking area.  Many people who visit will combine Bayview lookout with a Cascade Falls trip for a quick and short day hike providing excellent photo ops with just enough ruggedness to make you convinced you hiked hard all day. This is rated as a difficult hike, just because of the incline that must be traversed to get here. but it is well worth the visit and reachable by most.

Cascade Falls

One of the iconic waterfalls locations in Lake Tahoe. Cascade Falls is a short day trip hike that seasonally gives visitors a great full waterfall or a genital place to view wildflowers, play in the waterfall and hike granite formations.  Best visited in the spring if looking for a raging waterfall, but a great location for family or friends hike that will introduce visitors to the granite nature of Desolation Wilderness.  The trees, Rock, Flowers and cared out waterways that flow through the Cascade Falls area make it a delightful place to explore and frolic above Lake Tahoe and Cascade Lake. Adventurous types can also access Snow Lake and Azure Lake off this trail as well. This is an adventure best suited for individuals who like to scramble over the granite and find their own path to the lakes. Best to have a map or a guide if choosing this route.

Desolation Wilderness Access – Granite Lake / Maggies Peak / The Velma Lakes & More

Looking for a hardy day hike or to discover a weekend backpacking destination with lots of options. Then The Bayview Trail provides just the right recipe for adventure.  Rated as difficult because of the aggressive elevation climb from the trailhead to the top of Maggie Peak saddle, however, this trail is in great condition and accommodates the variety and mass of visitors well. The Trail is steep for the first 1.1 miles up to Granite Lake. This is a great bowl lake at the base of Maggie’s peak, perfect for a quick stop for water, lunch, swimming etc.  (Quick tip- if visiting Granite lake and you have time, climb around to the south side of the lake and over the ridge for a great viewpoint of Cascade Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake and Southshore.) Granite Lake has several great camping locations on the South East Side of the Lake. Moving on past Granite Lake visitors are welcomed with another 1.6 miles of steep switchback trail up to the saddle of Maggies Peak. Those adventurous enough will not miss the opportunity to climb the additional .6 miles up to the top of Maggies Peak for what we consider the best vista views of Lake Tahoe without climbing Tallac. From the Saddle visitors can find views of Eagle Lake, and get their first looks into the Velma Lakes region of Desolation Wilderness.  The Velma Lakes are a very popular destination for backpackers looking for a quick trip for the weekend. Dayhikers can also make the trip into the Velma Lakes (Upper, Middle, and Lower Velma Lakes) roughly 5 miles to the first lake. Experienced Dayhikes who like to cover the miles also reach Dicks Lake, Fontanillis Lake on a day trip loop.   and Backpackers looking to escape the crowds will venture 10 miles back to the 4 Q’s lakes or Lake Schmidel.