Hike to Half Moon Lake in Desolation Wilderness

Glen Alpine Trailhead

This pristine alpine lake in Desolation Wilderness is flanked by the dramatic backdrop of Jack's and Dick's Peak. This lake sees much less traffic than the other lakes in the region.

This hike starts at the Glen Alpine Trailhead near Fallen Leaf Lake. Because Desolation is a wilderness area, you are required to fill out a day-use permit which can be found at the trailhead. If you are backpacking make sure to obtain an overnight permit either online or at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.

After you fill out your permit, start heading up the gravel road behind the gate. This road takes you passed old summer homes and roughly follows the Glen Alpine Creek. Along the way, you can also see Modjeska Falls. The road eventually becomes a single track and starts climbing through the glacially carved granite that Desolation is famous for.

After about two miles you will reach the intersection with the Grass Lake trail. Stay to the right to keep climbing up the Glen Alpine Trail.

The trail keeps meandering through forest for another 1.6 miles until it reaches another intersection. Keep right to stay on the correct path.

Eventually the trail crosses the PCT and there will be a sign indicating the correct direction towards Half Moon Lake. This portion of the trail then climbs another 200 feet ending at the alpine lake.

If you are looking to camp, the adjacent Alta Morris lake is a perfect spot to get away from the main trail.

To get back, simply take the same trail back to the Glen Alpine Trailhead.

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Food
  • Water
  • Layers
  • Photography Gear
  • Backpack
  • Tent, Sleeping Bag, and Pad (If backpacking)
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RT Distance 11 Miles
Elevation Gain 1600 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Running, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Pretty Little Lake

We backpacked into this little lake and it was so worth it! It's pretty much uphill on the way in, so it's not an easy hike. Leave early since the Desolation has a lot of open trail so it gets warm. You follow a pretty stream almost the entire way with beautiful waterfalls. We camped at Half Moon Lake and there was no one else there! We sat on the rocks around the lake and watched our dogs frolick in the water. We had a scout coyote that howled for about 30 minutes as dusk then came back with a friend in the morning. We listened to a waterfall in the distance as we fell asleep If you hike with dogs, I would suggest booties. My dogs have tough feet since we hike the granite rocks at Folsom Lake several times a week, but their feet took at beating on this hike. Preparation is key, but so worth it!


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

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