Lyons Creek Trail – Desolation Wilderness


Things don’t always go according to plan.  I’m normally pretty good at planning stuff and I have decent luck most of the time, but every once in a while hiking does not go how I expect.

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Loch Leven Lakes


Basics: Loch Leven Lakes are three very popular alpine lakes in Tahoe National Forest.  The lakes are surrounded by granite and typical Sierra scenery.  The hike is approximately 8 miles roundtrip.  It is slightly shorter if your destination is the first of the three lakes.  These lakes offer great swimming and camping – they definitely get crowded on summer weekends! Continue reading “Loch Leven Lakes”

Martis Peak Fire Lookout

The fire lookout on Martis Peak can be reached from both Martis Peak Road and the Tahoe Rim Trail. We had a limited amount of time, so we opted to go up the paved road which is a slightly shorter route. This hike is 8 miles roundtrip, with about 1700-ft of elevation gain.


It’s been way too long since we got out and hit the trails.  We had some spare time before the holidays, so we decided to head up to Tahoe for the weekend.  There’s not much snow yet this year – 2013 was the driest calendar year on record (though water is usually summed by water year: Oct-Sep).  California is going to have some serious water problems if we don’t get crazy amounts of rain/snow in the next couple of months.  We wanted to use our snowshoes, but the road looked pretty bare so we left them in the car.  (Of course the road was completely covered in snow as soon as we turned the first corner.)  This hike was 8 miles roundtrip, with about 1700-ft of elevation gain. Continue reading “Martis Peak Fire Lookout”

Ropi Lake via Horsetail Falls – Desolation Wilderness

This hike is 6-ish difficult miles beginning at the Pyramid Creek trailhead on Highway 50, with about 1900 feet of elevation gain. The unmaintained trail goes past Horsetail Falls (a neat destination itself) up to several beautiful lakes in Desolation Wilderness.


I’ve been wanting to hike up Pyramid Peak for quite some time, but it just hasn’t happened (yet). On the occasions I have planned to do this hike, I’ve been stopped by major thunderstorms or crazy gusts of wind. This weekend, the weather was looking pretty perfect, but with a late start and the days already getting shorter, we didn’t make it up the peak. I will get there eventually.  Instead, we hiked up to some high alpine lakes and enjoyed a beautiful and relaxing October day in Desolation Wilderness. Continue reading “Ropi Lake via Horsetail Falls – Desolation Wilderness”

Mount Tallac in Desolation Wilderness


Basics:  Mount Tallac is a 10 mile hike (out and back) with approximately 3500 ft of elevation gain.  The main trailhead is just a few miles west of South Lake Tahoe, though this peak can also be reached from Gilmore Lake and other areas deeper in Desolation Wilderness.  It’s strenuous, but the incredible views down to Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe, and over to Desolation Wilderness make this a very popular hike.  On summer weekends, there can easily be dozens of people on the summit at once.  I would recommend an early start.  Permits for day hikes are self-issued at the trailhead.  For overnight trips, reserve your permit in advance at Continue reading “Mount Tallac in Desolation Wilderness”

Castle Peak – Tahoe National Forest

Basics: Castle Peak (9104′) is a prominent mountain close to Donner Pass on I-80. It’s a popular destination for summer hiking and winter snowshoeing or backcountry skiing. The summit is about 3 miles (and 1800′) from the trailhead. In the winter, much of the trail is well graded and easy to follow. The last half mile or so up to the summit is pretty steep. Most people we saw were using snowshoes, but if conditions were really icy, crampons and an ice axe might be a bit easier. Continue reading “Castle Peak – Tahoe National Forest”

Ralston Peak – Desolation Wilderness

Basics: Ralston Peak is located in the southern part of Desolation Wilderness and is relatively easy to reach.  There is a trailhead with parking on the north side of Hwy 50 at Camp Sacramento.  Permits are required.  The hike is just under 6 miles (roundtrip) and involves a moderately strenuous gain of about 2700-ft. Continue reading “Ralston Peak – Desolation Wilderness”

Mount Judah at Sugar Bowl

Basics: If you have been to Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, you may have already been to the top of Mt. Judah – the Summit Chair above Mt. Judah Express takes you nearly to the top. Unfortunately this isn’t Switzerland, and they don’t run the chairs year-round, so if you want to get to the top in early June when there’s crazy amounts of snow still on the mountain, you’ve got to get up there yourself. The route we took was about 4 miles round trip, with about 1200 feet of elevation gain – sounds easy but walking side-slope on snow at elevation adds some difficulty. Continue reading “Mount Judah at Sugar Bowl”