Backpack to Middle Velma Lake



7.6 miles

Route Type


Added by Christian Arballo

Backpacking or hiking getaway in the heart of Desolation. Amazing views of Jakes Peak or Fallen Leaf Lake. Hiking poles are a must for the knees. 7.6 mile roundtrip hike. Duration: 4-6 hours.

Hiking or backpacking to the Velma Lakes area is a must do if you want to explore and escape the summer crowds of South Tahoe. There are 3 lakes, Upper, Middle, and Lower Velma Lake. The trek out to Middle Velma is 7.6 miles roundtrip, but you can add to it depending on how many other lakes you want to see.

There are two trailheads to the Velma Lakes area, one is the Eagle Falls Trail Head and the Bay View Trailhead, all located on Emerald Bay Road (easy parking if you arrive early). The Eagle Falls Trail has a steeper climb and is more challenging than the Bay View Trail. Both trails connect around 8,000 feet, and from there, it's straight shot to Velma Lakes.

Although this can be a day hike, my personal favorite is backpacking since you get more time to enjoy the area and spend the night out in the wilderness. My experience was amazing and it's perfect for quiet and solitude. Permits are a must since the rangers rigorously check overnighters and you can easily get them online at

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Awesome Hike!

Did this as a day hike from the Bayview Trailhead which (I think) might be a little longer than the Eagle Falls entry. If you do take Bayview, be sure to stop at both Granite Lake (which was my favorite lake on the whole hike and which you go right past; if you're there early in the morning it's still as glass and makes for great views and photos) and the peak on the way there for a snack. Also, be sure to check the weather in advance – it started dumping rain and hail (with thunder and lighting) just when we reached Middle Velma and still had a two-and-a-half hour or so hike back. Luckily I had rain gear, but that's summer weather up here for you sometimes. Definitely worth the hike though even in the rain, all of the Velma Lakes are great to check out and the hike goes by way faster than you'd think.

Great Trip

I did this trip a few years ago. Great views, nice and challenging hike up the mountain to get there. The best part is at the trail head, which is overrun by tourists, but you get to pass right by them and go exploring. Remember to get your backcountry permits!

Was road tripping from the east coast to the west coast. Stopped by Lake Tahoe, the California side, and couldn't decide what hike I wanted to do. So I turned to The Outbound and was led to The Middle Lake Velma hike. WHAT A WONDERFUL WAY TO SPEND A DAY HIKE. Couldn't have had a better hike. The first lake was like a picture you see in a bistro somewhere, breath taking and the location being surrounded by mountains was just surreal. Of course, I had to swim out to the small island near the back end of the first lake. The hike to the the middle lake was challenging, but very do able. Hiking straight up the mountain then proceeding to walk on top.We got to the rock flat, walked out to the edge and lake tahoe was visible through what seemed to be a smallish V in between mountain sides. Had to snap a picture! Felt like I could walk all day with that picturesque scenery. The middle lake was visible about two miles before reaching the lake. We took a small break, busting out some pre made tuna sandwiches with a small can of pre sliced peaches, nothing like a small solid meal to get you ready for the rest of the hike. The middle lake was just a perfect as Eagle Lake in the beginning. Number one rule: If you hike to a body of water, you must get in. This hike was rad thanks so much for guiding me to it! Cody Westerman

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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