Susie Lake: A Hidden Gem in Desolation Wilderness
Are you ready to explore one of Desolation’s best-kept secrets? Susie Lake, with its tranquil waters and stunning surroundings, awaits your visit.
Susie Lake: Nature’s Masterpiece
Susie Lake is an exquisite natural masterpiece surrounded by granite cliffs and vibrant wildflowers. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-time visitor, the journey to Susie Lake is an unforgettable experience.
Trailhead and Stats:
- Best Trailhead: Glen Alpine Trailhead – Located behind Fallen Leaf Lake, parking at Lilly Lake near Glen alpine falls.
- Mileage: Approximately 3.8 miles one way
- Elevation Gain: Moderate Approximately 1500′
- Backpacking Permits Required
- Bear Canisters Required for all Backpackers
- Bears are Active in this region of the wilderness
Start your adventure at the Glen Alpine Trailhead, where a scenic path leads you through lush forests and across pristine streams. Hike along the old road up to the Glen Alpine Springs historic Site.
Glen Alpine Springs Historic Site: A Glimpse into the Past
As you venture along the Glen Alpine Trail in Desolation Wilderness, you’ll encounter the fascinating Glen Alpine Springs Historic Site. This site is a window to a bygone era, harkening back to the late 19th century when it served as a rustic resort destination. The remnants of this historic site include the Glen Alpine Springs Resort’s foundation, stone bathhouses, and the picturesque Glen Alpine Falls. It’s a place where hikers can pause to reflect on the area’s rich history while enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds it. The site’s tranquil ambiance and the rushing sound of the nearby falls provide a perfect backdrop for a moment of serenity and appreciation for the enduring legacy of Glen Alpine Springs.
Alternative Route Via PCT
The Alternative Route to Susie lake is via the PCT from Echo Lakes. Hikers that choose to backpack this direction will travel towards Lake Aloha via the PCT trail, then turn North past Heather lake into the Susie Lake basin. This route is approximately 9 miles one way and is a beautiful wilderness experience.
Desolation Wilderness Experience
As hikers continue on the trail into Desolation wilderness the trail will split off to Grass Lake which early in the season is highlighted by the waterfall that comes down from Susie Lake. Staying to the right you will hike up along a ridge climbs up into a trial junction area that divides Susie Lake and Gilmore Lake travelers. After a little more than 3½ miles from the Lilly Lake trailhead parking area, you will meet the Pacific Crest Trail. Head left and up to Susie Lake, about 4 miles total and 1500 feet in elevation gain.
Susie lake has some tree cover but mostly feels like an exposed Lake with plenty exposed granite. As you approach Susie Lake, the crystal-clear waters and the serenity of the wilderness will leave you in awe. This is a great swimming lake that feature a shore line that give you easy access to the water.
Susie Lake makes a good mid-summer and fall destination for fishing. Excellent fishing is found all around the lake and at several nearby lakes.
Good backpacking sites are located around Susie Lake. It can get busy when Pacific Crest Trail hikers are at their peak in mid-summer. Alternative Camp locations can be found near by at Half moon Lake or Heather Lake. Half Moon lake is connected to Susie Lake via a stream that flows down from Half moon to Susie.
Bears are very active in this region. As a Volunteer with Desolation wilderness, we over the years have seen a big increase in bear activity with campsites. This is one of the reason that Bear Canisters are required for all backpackers in Desolation wilderness.
Winter Backcountry Skiing options
Desolation has many backcountry areas that Skiers like to travel into during the winter. Susie Lake and Grass Lake are located in a basin that many locals will especially try to enjoy in the early spring season. Travel around Fallen Leaf lake is a bit more difficult forcing skiers to travel further, but we have never met a back country skier who was not willing to put in the work.