This is a moderate level hike, that may not test you physically, but the views and the ambiance will definitely blow your mind. Unbelievable views of Granite Lake and 360 degree views of the entire valley (Eagle Lake and Eagle Falls). Allow 3 or more hours roundtrip. Distance: 3 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 2,000 ft.

This hike starts from the Bayviews Campground Trailhead. This day use area is usually pretty crowded so arrive early to get a parking spot. There is parking a quarter of a mile into the campground near the trail head, but if there is no room there is overflow parking just outside of the camping area. The trail starts with an option to go into Desolation Wilderness or Cascade Falls. Take the right turn into Desolation. Because this is a wilderness area, be sure to grab one of the day use hiking permits offered at the kiosk. If you are doing an overnight, you will need to go to a Forest Service Visitor Center or to their online site to get an overnight permit. The first part of the hike is relatively steep and climbs through a forested area. After awhile, views into Emerald Bay will start to open up. Be sure to do a little exploration off the trail to find the best views of the Bay. You will pass Granite Lake along the way and if you want to take a short break, this is a great place to do it.

After a short set of switchbacks, you will find yourself at a saddle between the two peaks. The southern peak is 8699 feet, while the northern peak is slightly shorter at 8499. The northern peak has slightly better views of Emerald Bay, but the southern peak is higher and offers better views of Desolation. If you want to extend this hike, you can hike past the Maggie’s Peaks to the next fork in the trail and walk back to Eagle Lake. If you follow this trail, you will end up at the Eagle Falls Trail Head and have to hike back to Bayviews along the road.

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Fitness clothes
  • Water
  • Sun block
Show More
RT Distance 3 Miles
Elevation Gain 2000 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Amazing Views Of Emerald Bay

Amazing sunrise views of Emerald Bay that were worth the 30 degree overnight temps. The trail was wonderfully secluded, despite the fact that it is right off the main road and Inspiration Point. Start at the trail head and head right towards Desolation Wilderness. After a couple of switchbacks, there is a good spot on the far side of the mountain to camp. Make sure to get an overnight permit before beginning your hike.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hike to the Velma Lakes in Desolation Wilderness

The hike starts at Bayview Trailhead (Latitude: 38.938619 | Longitude: -120.14197). A wooden sign points right to "Desolation" and left to Cascade Falls. Follow the sign towards Desolation.

16 Saves

Swim in Granite Lake

Granite Lake is a pristine alpine lake near Lake Tahoe just off the Highway 89 above Emerald Bay.

18 Saves

Hike to Snow Lake in Desolation Wilderness

This wonderful alpine lake is a relatively short hike in Desolation Wilderness and is a perfect introduction to off trail exploration.

139 Saves