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A Great Five Lake Day Trip into Desolation Wilderness

crag lake

Five Lakes worth hiking to out of Meeks Bay into Desolation Wilderness

Meeks Bay California is a popular destination for campers and boaters all summer long in Lake Tahoe. But many of our visitors who come to enjoy the Desolation Experience miss out on this moderate route trail experience that delivers multiple day trip wilderness lakes as well as short backpack destinations.

We recently joined the Lake Tahoe Basin Forest Ranger team taking tools into Stoney Ridge Lake for a work crew and had the chance to visit five outstanding lakes along the trail that are perfect for a longer yet moderate day hike into Desolation Wilderness or a nice backpacking trip with friends. Besides a smokey day on the trail, I was thrilled to visit these five lakes in Desolation Wilderness.

Lake Genevieve ~ 4.6 Miles – Moderate

The first lake on this trail is Lake Genevieve, a popular backpacking destination for visitors who are unfamiliar with the rest of the trail or those looking for a quick trip for the weekend.

Crag Lake ~ 4.9 Miles – Moderate

crag lake
crag lake

A beautiful Desolation Wilderness lake destination and probably the most popular for visitors to this region. Features a great shoreline with many camping areas surrounding the lake.

Hidden Lake ~ 5.7 Miles – Moderate

Often skipped over on the trail because you have to hike down to the lake from the trail and short but brutal climb out deters many visitors. However, this smaller round lake is a great backpacking destination with a little more seclusion than the other lakes on this trail.

Shadow Lake (Meadow) ~ 6 Miles – Moderate

The next lake on this trail is Shadow Lake, unfortunately, it is starting t look more like a meadow than a lake. Not much to see here.

Stoney Ridge Lake ~ 6.3 Miles – Moderate

The Largest of the lakes along this section of trail, Stoney Ridge Lake is roughly 6.5 miles from the trailhead and has both tree-lined and mountainside camping available.  Situated directly below Rubicon Peak this mountain lake is a summer paradise for camping, backpacking, rock climbing etc..

Rubicon Lake   8.1 Miles – Moderate/ Difficult

Rubicon Lake courtesy of Lakes of

At 8400 feet this is the highest of the lakes on this side of the range and lies just below Phipps Pass and Phipps Peak to the West. This is a nice vertical climb from Stoney Ridge Lake making it much less visited region of the trail and a perfect place for a quiet evening in the wilderness. Many who make it this far are planning on hiking over Phipps Pass and on into the Velma Lakes area the next day.  

About the author

Charlie REC magazine - Charlie Pankey ~ Publisher

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