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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Last updated on July 22, 2020.