Desolation Wilderness: Mt. Tallac

Hike: Mt. Tallac via Fallen Leaf Lake out and back
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Trailhead: Mt. Tallac off of HW89
Level: Strenuous
Duration: 7 hours and 9 minutes
Length: 9.7 miles out and back
Fitbit Steps: 30,249
Gear: CamelBak Women’s Aventura 100oz Hydration Pack, UNIQLO Heattech leggings, Outdoor Research Women’s Contour Short, Icebreaker Women’s Tech T Lite T-Shirt, Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 Oasis Crew, Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot
Parking: Free!

Mt. Tallac is a classic Desolation Wilderness peak providing sweeping views of South Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay. At 9,738′, this hike is a wee bit strenuous. This review covers the most direct and popular route via Fallen Leaf Lake.

Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review

This hike takes you past Fallen Leaf Lake on your left, Floating Island Lake on your right, and then Cathedral Lake on the left before rapidly gaining elevation on loose gravel. Pictured above are Floating Island Lake and Cathedral Lake respectively.

You can opt to head up all of the switchbacks, or cut to an alternate trail that’s a little shorter, a whole lot steeper, and a ton more slippery. It will save you a bit of time if you’re up for the scramble before rejoining with the main trail.

Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review

This route meets up with the Glen Alpine trail junction about .1 miles prior reaching the last bit of scramble.

Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review

I super struggled with the altitude on this hike, but decided to push onward since we were only about .25 miles from the top. It was worth it.

Weather for this hike on an October weekend was not too bad. It was absolutely freezing in the morning, but brisk hiking warmed things up pretty quickly. I was worried that it would be cold at the top, but it was fairly warm around 70 degrees. I had an extra Triple Aught Design Flux hoodie and the North Face Venture jacket in my backpack, but could have done without. Also had my Outdoor Research Longhouse gloves and Arc’teryx Bird Toque beanie for the first mile or so, but they weren’t absolutely necessary.