Desolation Wilderness: Bayview Trail to Middle Velma Lake
Hike: Bayview Trail to Middle Velma Lake
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Trailhead: Bayview Trailhead off of HW89 (across from Inspiration Point)
Duration: 6 hours, 38 minutes
Length: 10~ miles out and back
Fitbit Steps: 29,997
Gear: CamelBak Women’s Aventura 100oz Hydration Pack, Icebreaker Women’s Tech T Lite T-Shirt, Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot, Black Diamond trekking poles
Cost of Parking: Free on the side of HW 89 and at the trailhead
I’d been hearing all these things about how gorgeous Tahoe is in the summer, but somehow, after living in the Bay Area for the last 23 years of my life, I’d never been. Ended up googling this Desolation Wilderness place and drove out here with the boyfriend back in early September for a short weekend trip.
My first experience with Desolation Wilderness was phenomenal. This is my new favorite place.
The Bayview trail begins with mellow ascent beneath redwoods with Emerald Bay on your right up to Granite Lake on your left. This is just the first bit of picturesque freshwater bodies on this hike.
After passing Granite Lake, make your way up steep granite switchbacks until you reach the top of the hill. You’ve finished the most strenuous part of the hike! Bask in the beauty of the wilderness in front of you and follow the trail down the hill to where the trail splits to Eagle Lake. Stay to the left to make your way towards the Velmas.
Traverse through open terrain until you come up to a lake on your left. This is Upper Velma Lake.
From there, follow the trail across a stream. This stream feeds into Lower Velma Lake, but more on that in another post. Follow the trail until you reach another split. Stay to the right to make your way to Middle Velma Lake. I believe the trail loops around to Fontanillis, but I am not sure. I hear it’s gorgeous; it’s still on my to do list.
Once the lake is near and in your sights, feel free to venture off the trail and frolick across the granite to its edge. There are some great spots to drop your pack and jump in.
One thing though, the bottom is incredibly rocky, slippery, and muddy. If you’re planning on swimming, bring a pair of water booties. Your feet will thank you.
Once you’re done, trace your steps back to the trail and head back home.
To sum up this hike: initial steep ascent with switchbacks, picturesque lakes, crossing a stream, granite structures everywhere, beautiful.
Here’s the EveryTrail guide I partially followed for this hike, kinda: http://www.everytrail.com/guide/backpacking-in-desolation-wilderness
Just as an FYI, these guys decided to randomly bushwhack at the top of the hill when the trail is right there! Use the trail, be happy!