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Tahoe-Yosemite Trail: Tallant Lakes

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Summary:
This hike, off of the western shore of Lake Tahoe, includes a wonderful wildflower display in the meadow above Meeks Bay during the summer, a few waterfalls, as well as numerous alpine lakes.  Wildflowers encountered during early-July, 2010, included: Corn Lily, Lupine, Yellow Violet, White Hyacinth, Death Camas, Common Rabbitleaf, Indian Paintbrush, Thimbleberry, Starwort, Snowbrush, Mariposa Lily, Cushion Desert Buckwheat, Phlox, Mountain Pride, Star Solomon Seal, Leafy Mitrewort, Fuschia Flowered Gooseberry, Monkeyflower, Checkermallow, Monkshood, Common Yarrow, Common Snowberry, Alpine (Tiger) Lily, Spirea, Blue Buttons, and Scarlet Gilia.   One waterfall on Meeks Creek requires a short side-trip on a small unmarked path (you can hear the waterfall from the main trail).  The prettiest of the lakes are the first two encountered (Lake Genevieve and Crag Lake), however Hidden Lake, Shadow Lake (turning into a meadow), and Stony Ridge Lake are still worth the time.  Hidden Lake requires a short hike on a side trail.

Distance: 13.05 miles round-trip

Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,875' total

Season: July through September

Fees & Permits: none for dayhikers

Finding the Trailhead: 39.0373 N, 120.1264 W.  From the CA-28/89 intersection in Tahoe City, follow CA-89 south for ~11.0 miles.  The trailhead is off the right side (west) of the road with limited parking space just off of the road north of Meeks Creek.

The Hike:
The first ~1.3 miles of the hike follow the Forest Service Road along the northern side of Meeks Creek and the meadow.  During this section, you can see many of wildflowers that this hike has to offer with several very large patches of Lupine and Monkeyflower.  After leaving the road, the trail begins to climb and ~2.05 miles into the hike the trail passes close by Meeks Creek and just upstream of the waterfall.  Take a short side-trail downstream to the east to get a view of the waterfall. 
The trail weaves its way in and out of tree stands and it continues to climb and ~3.4 miles from the trailhead crosses Meeks Creek to the east.  After this, the trail skirts the southern slopes of a ridge, turns south, and then west before following Meeks Creek up towards Lake Genevieve.  During this section of trail are more patches of wildflowers.  The trail reaches Lake Genevieve's northern shore ~4.6 miles from the trailhead.  Here, there are nice views of the 8,721' & 9,054' unnamed peaks over the lake to the south and south-southeast respectively. 
Following the lake's eastern shore the trail then climbs up to Crag Lake's northern shore ~4.9 miles from the trailhead.  Here, again, are nice views of the 9,054' unnamed peak over the lake.  The trail continues along the eastern shore to the southeast before climbing up towards Shadow Lake.  During this section, the trail crosses over Meeks Creek again and then comes to a junction (~5.45 miles) with a side-trail leading steeply down to Hidden Lake (~0.4 miles down and back).  At Hidden Lake are the closest views of the unnamed 9,054' peak along this hike.
Continuing, the trail reaches the southern shore of Shadow Lake ~5.7 miles from the trailhead.  This Lake is quickly filling in and turning into a meadow and presents a different snapshot of the natural progression of lakes seen along this hike.  The trail continues to climb to the southeast and reaches the northwest shore of Stony Ridge Lake ~6.1 miles from the trailhead.  When we did this hike we continued a little ways down the western shore of the lake before turning around just after crossing over a spring (~6.3 miles from the trailhead).  We found a nice rock along the western shore of the lake to take a rest and enjoy the views of the lake and Rubicon Peak to the northeast.  The Tahoe-Yosemite Trail continues up to Rubicon Lake and beyond.
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