Leo and I decided to do a backpacking trip in Desolation Wilderness. We picked a spot along the Tahoe Rim and Tahoe-Yosemite Trail. This trail is named both through this section. Make sure to get a permit for both day use and overnight stay in the wilderness. I made a reservation by calling (530) 647-5415. We decided to head to Stony Ridge Lake that is most easily accessed from Meeks Bay Trailhead. The hike in is 5.9 miles according to my GPS. This trail has both gorgeous views and lakes (well worth the hike in). This shot is Leo and my truck at the trailhead. To get to the trailhead from the Bay Area head East on 50 to South Lake Tahoe and then head on Highway 89 towards Truckee. You travel along the west shore of Lake Tahoe (great views) and past Emerald and Rubicon Bay. The trailhead is decently marked on the Left side. There are a few small buildings and what looks like a road. There are no facilities at this trailhead and no water, so make sure you take care of things at the ranger station or in Lake Tahoe.
Here is the first part of the "trail", the road I mentioned earlier. The first mile is along this road and provides a good warm up for the steeper section to come, as the road is very level. There is nothing too steep on the way to Stony Ridge Lake. If you plan on going all the way to Rubicon lake then the very last quarter mile is up. Make sure to look at a topo map of that section (and count the lines you cross) if you plan on tackling it.
Here is where the trail starts going uphill. The trail marker is in the middle of this picture and tells you to take a right. According to the map the road doesn't go much farther but I have never checked it out. We saw quite a few areas of gathered wood on the way in like someone was planning on setting a couple hundred small bonfires. I am not sure what those were all about.
You hike for another 2/3 mile and then hit the Wilderness Boundary. This is really how these signs should look (not carved on or falling apart or missing). I am sure this one is pretty new.
On this section of the trail make sure to look back occasionally as you can catch a few glimpses of Lake Tahoe. In this picture you can barely see it but it is there in the middle (trust me).
Most of the trail is covered but I would still recommend getting to the trailhead early to make sure you get a spot to park in the rather small trailhead parking lot. This shot is of the bridge that goes over Meeks Creek.
The trail takes a big bend through here. Here is Leo clearing the trail of a small log. I tried to get a shot of him karate chopping it in half but I wasn't fast enough with the camera. You can see the rest of the log on the bottom right of the picture.
All of your effort is now worth it as you reach the first lake, Lake Genevieve. A nice lake that provides a good spot to eat lunch or take a quick dip. We just kept going as we wanted to get to our camp before relaxing.
The trail continues to Crag Lake. This lake is very close to Lake Genevieve but much longer. You can see all of the high country you can explore in the distance of this lake. This section of trail is on the eastern edge of the Desolation Wilderness and this shot is looking southwest over the rest of Desolation Wilderness. If you want to take a multi-day trek past as many lakes and passes as your legs will carry you this is a great wilderness to do it in. I think this picture has Phipps Peak in the background.
This shot is of a tree that decided to take out another tree. The sap still looked pretty wet so I am sure this great crash (yes I am sure it made a noise even if no one was there to hear it) was pretty recent.
Someone had some time on their hands on this trail. The black things lining the trail are pine cones... yes someone decided to take the time to gather pine cones and lay them out to mark the trail, or maybe a squirrel?
You cross Meeks Creek one more time on the trail to Stony Ridge. You are almost to the junction with Hidden Lake at this point. This late in the season there is not much water in the creek.
Here is Shadow Lake. It looks to be filling in and becoming a meadow. This is the normal progression for alpine lakes. There are not much camping opportunities around this lake. I would go the additional 1/2 mile or so to Stony Ridge Lake.
Stony Ridge sits underneath Rubicon Peak and has a dam on the outlet side. Here is Leo making the trek across the dam to a site on the other side.
Here is our site for the night. It had some decent shelter and a killer view of the lake. We didn't see anyone else that night.
Here is Leo in the morning. I had a major packing mistake that left me sleeping outside that night. I had laid out both my one man and two man tents and in my haste while packing the two man tent I grabbed the poles for my one man tent. I realized this fact when we arrived at the trailhead (just a little late). Luckily Leo had decided to try and make a hammock shelter so he had already planned on bringing his own shelter so it was mainly me that was sleeping outside. Leo started off in his shelter that night (you can see it between the trees) but with the wind coming through he abandoned his shelter to get out of the cold wind. He said with some minor modifications this will work next time.
Here is Leo hiking back over the granite rock that is part of the dam on our way out. We took our time getting over this so we didn't start our trek out all wet.
This shot is of the meadow alongside of Shadow Lake.
One more shot with a different angle and settings.
There are some great reflections in the early morning. This was taken on Crag Lake on the way out.
Sometime leaving the foreground in the shot frames the picture in so nicely. It adds more depth as well.
Ok so maybe I took a few too many shots of the same thing but I just wasn't sure what effect I wanted.
This is a great trip with some beautiful lakes with not that much hiking. If you can't make it out here overnight this makes a great day hike as well.