Home Adventures Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness

Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness

by Paulina Dao
Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness Trip Report
Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness Trip Report

My little brother just got back from a brief stint of backpacking through Europe. With his heart still full of adventure, he asked me to take him out somewhere, anywhere. He didn’t give me any criteria and said he was down for whatever, but the first time someone goes backpacking will obviously make or break their experience. After much hemming and hawing, Meiss Lake in Mokelumne Wilderness was my pick.

Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness Trip Report

Mokelumne Wilderness is one of my favorite destinations in the Tahoe area. It doesn’t receive half the traffic that Desolation Wilderness does, but is still ridiculously beautiful. There are days where I’ve seen no more than three or four people out on the trail with me, and that is my favorite.

Getting Permits for Meiss Lake

Permits are now required for Mokelumne Wilderness. Meiss Lake is outside of the Carson Pass Management Area, which has a separate quota and reservation system. You can issue yourself a permit and carry it on your person via this form.

Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness Trip Report

We arrived at the Meiss Meadow trailhead as the sun was setting on Friday night. We quickly distributed beer and rearranged packs and off we went on the Pacific Crest Trail. The plan was to hike four miles in and then either head off trail to Meiss Lake or camp, depending on time.

The trail was well marked and graded. We gained about 1000 feet of elevation and the trail flattened out. We decided to camp near the unnamed lake to the right of the trail and wander off to find our lake in the morning.

Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness Trip Report
Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness Trip Report

Meiss Lake was a fun, off-trail destination through tall grass, reeds, and hidden mud puddles. We circled the lake to the left and then headed across the meadow in the direction of Meiss. It was a wet, soggy mess with precarious, but doable stream crossings. Within an hour, we’d successfully navigated to our destination.

After some exploring and site hunting, we set up camp and started cracking beers open. It was going to be a mellow day of hanging out, swimming and sleeping in hammocks. A little bit before noon, dark clouds blew in and dropped torrential downpour on our heads. It was amazing!

Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness Trip Report
Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness Trip Report

Sunday morning we packed up and hiked the four miles back out on the PCT. Hiking in the dark on Friday night concealed the beautiful views of Round Top Peak and the Sisters.

Despite the inclement weather, my little brother had a blast! I was a little worried that the thunderstorms and night hiking would totally turn him off to backpacking. He’s heading back to Illinois to finish off his masters degree shortly, but I see many trips in our future when he returns!

Have any of your family members ever asked you to take them backpacking? Where did you go? Did they enjoy it?

For other 2 day backpacking trips like Meiss Lake, check out Fourth of July Lake across the street, backpacking to Granite Lake in Emigrant Wilderness, or Lake Aloha in the Desolation Wilderness!

Backpacking Meiss Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness Trip Report
Backpacking Mokelumne Wilderness Meiss Lake

Last updated on July 22, 2020.

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Charles September 16, 2015 - 5:47 pm

I’ve been wanting to do Mokelumne for awhile now and with this post as a reference I think I’ll have to give it a go!

My in-laws wanted to get their first backpacking taste but neither are in great shape. We decided to do a trail we’d done before because we were pretty sure they could handle it. We ended up heading to Mt. Lola Trailhead in Tahoe NF. It was a great first trip because the summit gave them the feeling of accomplishment without the rigor of the trail shattering their sense of comfort and security.

Tribe Provisions Adventure Hammock - littlegrunts.com December 16, 2017 - 9:29 pm

[…] take it easy, find a beautiful spot and just chill. That’s what I did for the 4th of July and when I took my brother out for his first time in the backcountry. Sometimes I need it. And on those trips, I tend to load up my pack with little luxuries like the […]

Teton Sports Mountain Ultra 1 Tent - littlegrunts.com December 16, 2017 - 10:02 pm

[…] of my bodyweight in the backcountry at all times. Through crazy thunderstorms in Whitney Portal to torrential downpour in Mokelumne Wilderness, the Mountain Ultra 1 tent has not failed me yet, try as the weather might. […]


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