Tree, Poison Flat, Carson Iceberg Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Yellow Flower
Ridgeline heading Southeast from Dicks Pass.
Ridge line heading SE of Dicks Pass


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Dicks Pass

to Susie Lake

Hiking The Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trail through Desolation Wilderness,





Trail Prep

The art of walking

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Trail guide section index

Dicks Pass

3 Trail Junctions

Topo Map

Topo map

maps index

miles & elevations Miles & Elevations Index Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Local Weather

All Sierra Weather
forest-wilderness Permits
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Hiking to the South side of Dicks Pass

Looking to our Left we can see that the expansive rounded flat below the Southwest side of Peak 9579 marked as Dicks Pass on the USGS maps runs out about a half mile to the Southeast, making up the backside of the sheer crestline above Azure Lake.

Phipps Pass to Heather Lake
15 minute topographic backpacking MAP
South Desolation Wilderness
30 minute backpacking MAP

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations

Though the trail turns West, away from the bluff, to thread itself through the gap between Dicks Pass and Dicks Peak (check out the MAP), the trail turns out of the gap back towards the Southeast towards Gilmore Lake and into the valley below by descending along the South side of this huge spur ridge.

The map shows Jacks Peak, Dicks Peak, Peak 9579, and the spur ridge off the Southeast flank of 9579 make up a horseshoe shaped set of mountains surrounding Alta Morris and Half Moon Lakes below.

When we pass South through the gap below Dicks Pass separating the back-to-back canyons, holding Dicks Lake to the North and Half Moon Lake to the South, our trail begins a long 1.33 mile traverse along the South face of this ridge dropping 800 feet down to the Glimore Lake trail junction.

Dicks Pass Forum


  View Southeast from a few feet South of Dicks Pass.  
  South side of Dicks Pass reveals bluff to Southeast.  

A spur ridge runs Southeast from Dicks Pass. Check the grade of this terrain against the contours on the map to calibrate your map reading skills.

The South side of the Dicks Pass "flat" has seats under shade that overlook Half Moon Lake, glimpse Pyramid Peak above Lake Aloha, and view the Sierra Crestline tracking South.

Down from Dicks Pass towards Susie Lake on the Tahoe Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trails

Fine views of the lakes in the two valleys as hiking South of Dick's Pass.

Miles and Elevations

Dicks Pass to West Side of Susie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness

Meeks Bay through Dicks Pass

Following the Classic Tahoe to Yosemite Trail route, which also covers the PCT and TRT.

Backpacking South
from Dicks Pass

Dicks Pass (9390 feet) to Gilmore Lake (8300 feet) drops 1090 feet in 1.33 miles.

Dicks Pass (9390 feet) to Susie Lake (7800 feet) drops 1590 feet in 2.93 miles.

8.9 miles South to the Echo Lake trail head, 9.9 miles to Echo Summit.


Hiking North


Dicks Pass is 16.83 miles South from the Meeks Bay trail head.

The West side of Susie Lake is 19.76 miles South from the Meeks Bay trail head.

mileage and elevations


Hiking South off of Dicks Pass

Two Views Looking Back, Northward, at Dicks Pass and Peak

Down from Dicks Pass, Pacific Crest Trail Looking back at Dicks Pass, Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
Looking North back at our shaded break spot in the trees on the South side of Dicks Pass while hiking South from Dicks Pass dropping down into the gap between mountaintops.

Hiking South out of the gap below Dicks Pass. We're looking North at the gap in the mountains below Dicks Pass.

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Looking South-Southeast at Valley and Lakes

Standing in the Gap

Standing in the gap below Dicks Pass we are at the head of the valley running up from Alta Morris and Half Moon Lakes. Two valleys actually, as this gap divides the the valley from the North holding Dicks and Fontanillis Lakes from Alta Morris and Half Moon Lakes on the South.

We are going to be hiking South down the Northeast wall of the valley above Half Moon and Alta Morris Lakes at the top, and Suzie Lake below, down to the point where the trail crosses the small valley below, passing around the South shore of Susie Lake to enter the gap in the mountains containing Heather Lake, and the passage up to Aloha Lake behind it.

Half Moon Lake and Alta Morris Lake sit at the very top of this valley, which widens out below into a chaotic terrain filled by Suzie Lake and lots of tiny lakes. This little valley is surrounded by and filled with "small" granite mounds and ridges decorated with what looks like thin tendrils of forest connecting the scattering of dense stands of trees. This whole terrain drains East around the South flank of Tallac Peak, all flowing down to Fallen Leaf Lake.

As we drop down into the valley the page below shows how our view of the terrain shifts and rotates to reveal details and aspects hidden from our grand view above at Dicks Pass.

For Northbound hikers here this means "Turn Around and check the View," but this axiom equally applies to all backpackers hiking in all directions.

Half Moon Lake and Alta Morris Lake with Jacks and Pyramid Peaks in background.

Half Moon Lake and Alta Morris Lake in the foreground with Aloha Lake visible between Jacks and Pyramid Peaks in the background.

The beauty in Desolation Wilderness is breathtaking.

Hiking South and Losing Elevation

Susie Lake hiking South from Dicks Pass.

Light breeze rippling across Susie Lake, view from the North below Dicks Pass, Pacific Crest Trail.

Our hike along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail bends around the South shore of Susie Lake, the far side of the lake, to continue West through a passage between the South base of Jacks Peak and the North end of Cracked Crag.

Phipps Pass to Heather Lake
15 minute topographic backpacking MAP

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The Trail passes by the East Side of Jacks Peak and Half Moon & Alta Morris Lakes

Half Moon Lake with Pyramid Peak in background, Tahoe Yosemite Trail.
Dropping down almost to Half Moon Lake Level. Jacks Peak sits behind the Lakes with Pyramid Peak peeking over the top.

Half Moon and Alta Morris Lake

Dropping down almost to Half Moon Lake Level. Jacks Peak sits behind the Lakes.

Dropping down almost to Half Moon Lake level reveals terrain details including the reflections of forest and rock superimposed above the lakeshore shelf.

Alta Morris Lake is the far lake.

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Golden Grasses

Golden Trail below Dicks Pass in Fall.

Golden Trail below Dicks Pass during Fall. How delightful.

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Bug Encounter: Royal Blue Beetle

Royal Blue Beetle in Desolation Wilderness, Dicks Pass.

Royal Blue Beetle in Desolation Wilderness below Dicks Pass.

Beetle: "Oh-Oh." Me: "Cool Beetle!,"while pulling out the camera. Beetle: "I'm frkn outta here."

Beetle runs for cover. I follow.

The bug either runs remarkably fast, or I am remarkably slow. Humm. Altitude and Heavy Pack degrade my pursuit skills, and huffing and puffing makes it hard to bend over, track bug and take shot.

I took maybe ten shots chasing the bug and deleted eight of blue beetle blur, retaining these two.

  Beetle wants no part of me.  

Scurrying away from the pursuing backpacker as quickly as possible.

Bug Comments?

Seen any good High Sierra bugs lately?

Bug Forum

Living Things Forum


Looking Southwest into the Big Granite of Pyramid Peak at the South End of the Crystal Range.

Pyramid Peak big granite looking West
Above: Pyramid Peak towering above Desolation Valley and Lake Aloha. Desolation's Big Granite. We've dropped down far enough to once again see Pyramid Peak past Southeast descending flank of Jacks Peak, but will again lose this view dropping into the valley and entering the forest.
big granite close-up, Desolation Wilderness

Above: Pyramid Peak granite detail. Ridgetops separating Suzie Lake from Lake Aloha with Heather Lake between. These shots are why I lug a tripod around. Now I've got to get a real camera.

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North: Dicks Pass                                                                                        South: 3 Trail Junctions

Dicks Pass, Desolation Wilderness

Hiking Plan

Crossing Dicks Pass traveling South marks the last major climb we will do in the Desolation Wilderness. It's almost all downhill from here all the way to the Echo Lake trail head.

Though we still have 11.88 miles of exceptional Desolation Wilderness terrain to cross until we reach the trailhead at Lower Echo Lake, we are now headed down and out of Desolation Wilderness. It's time to think about our upcoming encounter with "civilization" at Echo Chalet.

Hiking Plan for Resupply and/or lunch at Echo Chalet

Now we've got to think about hitting the Echo Lake Chalet. If we are picking up a food resupply, we want to pick it up with enough time to get ourselves down the trail to our next campsite to the South, as well as timing our arrival to coincide with lunchtime.

The plan is to hike into Echo Lake early enough to make it to our next campsite past Echo Lake before dark. Our next campsite South of Echo Lake will likely be at Showers Lake, which sits about 9 miles South of Echo Lake. Our goal is to have enough time to eat at the Echo Chalet deli and hang out for awhile, while still giving ourselves enough time to get to Showers Lake.

These constraints are why we want to properly stage-up our campsites before and after arriving at our backpacking resupply spots.

The same plan applies if we are not resupplying at Echo Chalet, with the difference being that we will not have to spend time repacking our food supply. We will just be packing our stomachs...

This means we are going to want a campsite that puts us close enough to Echo Lake to get there no later that mid-morning. We've got to get in and out of Echo Chalet with enough daylight to make it to our next campsite 9 miles South of Echo Chalet at Showers Lake.

How you figure this, and how you should figure this, depends on your daily miles and just when you cross Dicks Pass.

Many long distance backpackers North on the Pacific Crest Trail hitch down to South Lake Tahoe to rest, feed up, and Resupply in South Lake Tahoe's ample comforts. Some have loved ones drive in to Echo Lake to express their love by pampering them for a few days. Seriously, I've seen that scenario played out dozens of times over the years.

Check out my basic resources in South Lake Tahoe and Meyers...

South Lake Tahoe Backpacker Resources


Hiking Topo Map: Phipps Pass to Susie Lake               Hiking Topo Map: Dicks Pass to Echo Lake Trailhead

Miles and Elevations

Next page: 3 Trail Junctions

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Backpacking North

Trail Guide

Dicks Pass

Map and Compass point our way up and down the trail.

Backpacking South

Trail Guide

3 Trail Junctions

Backpacker Forums


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Section: Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Segment: Dicks Pass

North: Dicks Pass                                                                                        South: 3 Trail Junctions

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Alex Wierbinski

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Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to the High Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

Snug tent after Snow Storm
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