Location: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Miles: 9.5 miles
Duration: 7 hours
Users: Hikers, trail runners, birdwatchers.
Features: Breathtaking views of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe. Strenuous but beautiful.
Trail: When you first arrive, look up to the right and find the highest tip of that large mountain (Mt Tallac). That’s where you’re going! Strenuous at times, and definitely tiresome for a beginner, but more than worth it once you reach the top. Once you hit the ridge you’ll think you made it… nope! You have to keep hiking up the back side of the mountain towards the tip which is roughly another 45 minutes to an hour depending on your speed.
At the very top you’ll be in pure awe of the view. You have to be there to truly feel and experience it. On the way back there is a guidepost that shows something like straight for floating isle… I don’t recall the exact name, but we thought no, “let’s just get back,” so we went right towards fallen leaf lake. This was a mistake and took us way off towards the south end of fallen leaf lake (see guide #5 going up… we messed it up coming back). Instead of hiking back on the trail we used our Magellan GPS to cut back across through the woods as a shortcut towards the car. Long story short, it worked and we made it to the trail safely… however, I would not recommend anyone else do that. Stick to the marked trails and you will have a great time.
Remember to register for a free Desolation Wilderness permit at the trailhead.
June to October is the best time to hike Tallac. It’s not unheard of to see snow at higher elevations well into July, but it’s unlikely to cause problems for hikers. Afternoon thunderstorms are common and we recommend an early start to avoid being exposed at high elevations during these times. Glen Alpine Trail is an alternative route to the summit of Tallac, popular with back-packers camping in the Desolation Wilderness. An 11 mile day trip via Gilmore Lake is feasible but not covered by this guide.
Mount Tallac is one of the most popular backcountry skiing and snowboarding destinations in the US. Just “Google” information about the winter Spring Creek Trail ascent for more details.
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