Category: Adventures

Desolation Wilderness: Pyramid Peak via Rocky Canyon

Hike: Pyramid Peak via Rocky Canyon
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Trailhead: US 50 after Twin Bridges, but before Strawberry. Look for a mile marker that says 50 and a giant tombstone looking thing that says 43. The trail is directly across HW50 from this point.
Level: Strenuous
Duration: Too long
Length: 6.6 miles out and back
Fitbit Steps: Approximately 29,000
Gear: CamelBak Women’s Aventura 100oz Hydration Pack, UNIQLO Heat-Tech leggings, REI Sahara Convertible Pants – Girls’, Icebreaker Women’s Oasis Crewe, Sierra Designs Women’s Tov Down Jacket, Outdoor Research Women’s Valhalla Hoody (review here), Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot, Outdoor Research Women’s Longhouse Glove, Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles (100cm)
Cost of Parking: Free along the side of HW50.

Pyramid Peak via Rocky Canyon… oh boy. This one is a tough one with approximately 4,083′ of elevation gain. The boyfriend and I huffed and puffed  our way up and down this one. The altitude, elevation change, and a wicked hangover (Just me. Whoops. Not a good idea to go peak bagging after a party bus team event.) were not my friends.

This hike was done mid-November with some snow on the trail, a little bit more snow on the peak, and freezing cold winds on the peak. This hike gives you a little bit of everything: little creek crossings, redwood forest, scrambling up talus. Unfortunately, can’t comment much on the view from the top. The day started off with a cloudless sky, but a giant cloud quickly descended upon us. It looks like it was gorgeous, what bit we could see, but with an 80% chance of snow, so we scrambled down pretty quickly.

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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.

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)
Level: Moderate
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.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake reviewDesolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

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.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

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.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

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.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

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.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

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!

Rattlesnake Mountain: Rattlesnake Ledge and East Peak

Hike: Rattlesnake Ledge to East Peak and back
Where: Rattlesnake Lake
Level: Strenuous
Duration: 3 hours and 58 minutes roundtrip
Length: 1.9 miles up to Rattlesnake Ledge, 2.4 miles from Rattlesnake Ledge to East Peak, one way.
Fitbit Steps: Approximately 27,000
Gear:
CamelBak Aventura Hydration Pack
,
REI Sahara Convertible Pants
,
Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot
,
ExOfficio BugsAway Adventure Hat
, UNIQLO Airism men’s v-neck (check out my review of this here)
Cost of Parking: Free!

Rattlesnake Ledge is a fun, short little hike with an elevation gain of 1,175 feet in a short 1.9 miles. The huffing and puffing all the way to the top is worth it though. The views of Rattlesnake Lake, Mt. Si, and the surrounding greenery is unbeatable.

The trail consists of steep switchbacks under the shady cover of tall evergreens. Even on hot days, the hike is not unbearable.

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Hiking Palomarin Trail to Alamere Falls

Hiking Palomarin Trailhead to Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore

The hike from the Palomarin trailhead to Alamere Falls is one of my favorites in Point Reyes, if not the whole Bay Area. There are few places in the world where you can see a freshwater waterfall drop directly into the ocean.

It’s rated as moderate. Not too long, not too short, and you’ll be back in San Francisco just in time for dinner.

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