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General Information: The Glen Alpine trail is a popular gateway to Desolation Wilderness. Located at the end of Fallen Leaf Lake Road, Glen Alpine provided access to some of Desolation's nicest lakes including, Gilmore, Susie, Heather, Half Moon, and of course, Lake Aloha. In addition, it is often used to start a Mt. Tallac ascent. For more information on climbing Mt. Tallac and other Tahoe peaks, see our Peak Climbing page.

Where To Start: Fallen Leaf Lake Road is located off highway 89 about 3 miles north of the "Y" in South Lake Tahoe. Driving north on 89 watch for a brown sign after Camp Rich that says, "Fallen Leaf Lake" . Turn left onto Fallen

Leaf Lake Rd. and follow it for 5 miles all the way past the marina, turning left onto an even narrower road at the new Fallen Leaf Lake Fire Station. Follow this single lane road past the falls and finally to the Glen Alpine parking lot.

Trail Description: After filling out a wilderness permit, start hiking up a dirt and gravel road past old summer homes. After about a mile, the road turns into a single-track trail that winds its way, sometimes steeply, up the rocky landscape. Along the way, you have open views of pristine wilderness where rock, wind, water, and glaciers have conspired to form some magnificent scenery. Cracked Crag juts its dark, crumling bulk of stone and rock high above the surrounding wilderness with bits and pieces of trees trying to maintain their tenuous foothold in this harsh environment.

The trees thin out the higher you go and after another 2 miles of steady climbing, the trail splits. To the right are Gilmore and Half Moon Lake as well as Mt. Tallac, while the left trail leads to Susie, Heather, and Aloha Lakes.

Gilmore Lake: Gilmore is one of our favorite Desolation lakes. A deep, round, glacial lake, surrounded by forest, Gilmore is set in a depression on the back side of Mt. Tallac and offers wonderful fishing, serene forest, and flat, comfortable camping. The wind, which often blows 30 - 50 MPH on top of Tallac just 2 miles away, scours the trees over-head making them sing and dance, yet on the ground, it stays remarkably calm. From the trail split mentioned above, Gilmore is just over 1 additional mile of steady climbing. The total distance from the trailhead is about 4.5 miles and involves 1900' of climbing.

Half Moon Lake: Half Moon Lake is much less visited than the other lakes discussed on this page, primarily due to its extra distance and the fact that there is no through trail. Set in the cirque of Dicks and Jacks Peaks, Half Moon Lake offers high alpine beauty to those who like the stark, rocky environment of Desolation. Half Moon Lake is close to 6 miles from and 1500' higher than the Glen Alpine trailhead. This is not a beginner hike or backpack.

Susie & Heather Lakes: From the Gilmore/Susie trail split, Susie Lake is only about 1 mile further over gently rising and falling rocky, broken terrain. Heather Lake is 1.5 miles further still. Both Susie and Heather Lakes are classic alpine lakes surrounded by rocky peaks with scattered forest cover along some of the shoreline. Both offer flat, but exposed campsites. From the trailhead, Susie and Heather are 4.5 and 6 miles, respectively with elevation gains of about 1400'.

Lake Aloha: From the Glen Alpine trailhead, Lake Aloha is 6.5 miles with 1600' of elevation gain. The trail is varied and interesting, but seems longer than 6.5 miles so be sure to include extra time. Lake Aloha is a shallow, island filled lake in an otherwise barren alpine environment with an almost surreal feel. At times, the remoteness, the treeless landscape, the high surrounding peaks of the Crystal Range, and a howling wind can chill the blood of even experienced back-country travelers. It is perhaps the centerpiece of the Desolation Wilderness and deserves a visit if you have the time, experience, and energy.

Environmental Concerns: No trash service here...please pack it out. Always stay 100 yards away from lakes and streams to go to the bathroom. Campsites must be 100 feet from lakes and streams and wood fires are prohibited anywhere in Desolation Wilderness.

Advisory: All water from streams and lakes in Desolation Wilderness is suspect and should be treated or filtered. Giardia, our resident micro-parasite, is a bad-actor that you do not want to get to know!

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