Desolation Wilderness Boundary from Meeks Bay trail head Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Forest Trail to Lake Genevieve
Meeks Creek Tributairy before the bridge.
Wilderness Boundary
Tributary feeding Meeks Creek
Forest Trail


The Trails



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Northern High Sierras

Central High Sierras

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Gettin Started


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The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

Backpacking from the
Desolation Wilderness Boundary to Meeks Creek

Hiking to Lake Genevieve on The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail





Trail Prep

The art of walking

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Trail guide



Traversing the Ridge


Lake Genevieve


miles & elevations Miles and Elevations
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit All



from the
Desolation Wilderness Boundary
Lake Genevieve

We have another 2.14 very interesting miles of hiking up 680 more feet from the Wilderness boundary to Lake Genevieve.

First we'll cross this open ledge wedged in the side of the ridge as we enter a wedge of forest reaching to the top of the valley along Meeks Creek.

At the far end of the open rocky ledge we enter a deeply muffled temperate forest before we come upon Meeks Creek and its convenient bridge. We recognize a natural "sweet spot," where the nifty shape of the terrain works with prevailing winds and character of the weather cycle to create a unique zone of biological lushness.

Man, we've barely entered the Desolation Wilderness and encounter Natural treasure.

Sometimes these "sweet spots" are as simple as a circle of grass growing out of a gravel bed, other times they are crowns of temperate lushness concentrated within terrain complexities and wedged atop an otherwise dry dry strip of forest.

The air feels rich with cool mositure within this special zone.

The terrain steps up in complexity on the other side of the bridge. The trail bends a U-turn around the hilltop through an interesting close-in section part of an even larger S-curve around and between the hilltops wedged in at the head of the valley we have been hiking into. This S-turn marks the junction of the ridges bracketing the meadow we first passed along the edge hiking through the Meeks Bay Trailhead.

The ridge arm we have been traversing up was pinching up to the unique head of this low valley, this little vale, as we climbed.

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map


Just past the Desolation Wilderness Boundary

Hiking the Desolation Trail, just after crossing the Desolation wilderness boundary,
from Meeks Bay Trail Head. Duration 1:12.

Desolation Wilderness Boundary

6720 feet
+481 above Meeks Bay trail head elevation

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map

2.25 miles from Meeks Bay trail head

1.05 miles from the Trail Junction


2.14 miles to Lake Genevieve

6.63 miles to Phipps Pass

We are halfway to Lake Genevieve at the Desolation Wilderness boundary.


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We hike through some nice moist forest after the dry ridge traverse

Hiking a mile from the wilderness boundary up to the head of the valley holding Meeks Creek we find ourselves in a protected area under the shadows of the surrounding ridgetops.

The physical layout of this location induces shade, Meeks Creek providing water nourishing a dense stand of forest protecting the moist environment supporting the ferns, ivy, and moss which characterizes this little zone as temperate.


Hiking into Desolation Wilderness
Ladyfinger Fern
Desolation Wilderness Boundary, Meeks Bay Trailhead ladyfinger fern, Desolation Trail, Desolation wilderness
forest trail approaching Genevieve Lake Forest Trail, note fire hazard

Forest trail approaching Meeks Creek.

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  Cool moist location supports a little zone of temperate forest.

North to the Desolation Wilderness Boundary & Junction                                      South to Genevieve Lake

Last Steps to Lake Genevieve
Desolation Wilderness

A Zone of Moist, Dark, Muffled Temperate Forest

Boulder before Lake Genevieve, Desolation Wilderness   Trail through near temperate forest

Exiting the open space into thickening forest the trail winds around pleasing boulders into a zone of temperate forest below Lake Genevieve, Desolation Wilderness.

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Footbridge over Meeks Creek

Meeks Creek Tributary   Bridge just before Lake Genevieve

Tributary to, and the bridge over Meeks Creek.

Just below where the trail twists through unique formations between the converging ridge arms to reach Lake Genevieve. Enjoy this part of the Desolation Wilderness, as temperate zones are rare, and the twists of the trail through the unique terrain beyond the bridge brings my mind back to simpler times and simpler pleasures.

Most forests along the Sierra flanks are hot and dry during Summertime.



The exposed heat of hiking along the edge of the dried out meadow from the trailhead to the ridge, albeit a meadow that is being filled up with lodgepoles, swiftly transitiones into a shaded hike traversing the ridge arm up towards the head of the valley holding Meeks Creek below Lake Genevieve.

At the head of this little vale the junction of its convoluted ridge arms forces the trail to track around and through a neat looping section of trail of close-up wrinkled terrain features.

Approaching the head of the valley below Lake Genevieve your body will not fail to notice the transition from hot, dry forest into this small zone that shelters a cool temperate zone, replete with lady finger ferns and ivy, all part of a deep green layer of undergrowth, with a refreshing cool and moist feel to the air.

The Roar of Silence
This is a delightful place, and the same terrain features that provide the shade and coolness also provides a muffled zone of quiet that soothes the soul.
This quiet can be profoundly loud, as the absence of accustomed urban noise can register more heavily on the senses than noise itself during our first days on the trail.
It is a profound sense of silence, what I call the roar of silence. Earlier in the Summer the heavy hiker traffic would have made this deep quiet unlikely.

This is just the first of what will be many examples of backpacking not just through nature, but through profound transitions created by departing an environment dominated by man into one run by nature. Internal and external transitions.

The strains and pains of hiking with a heavy pack are immediately offset by the beauty of the terrain and deeply engaged experiences our packs allow us to access.

This experience will deepen where the trail steepens.

The trail turns up, significantly steeper than the trail up to Lake Genevieve, for the climb up to Phipps Pass just past the boggy zone off the South shore of Stony Ridge Lake.

Then we climb!

1000 feet in 2.11 miles between the South shore of Stony Ridge and Phipps Pass.

A Hard3 trail.

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map


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Desolation Wilderness

Meeks Bay Trailhead
The Bridge before Lake Genevieve

6960 feet
+721' above Meeks Bay trailhead.

3.21 miles South of Meeks Bay trailhead.

1.18 miles South to Lake Genevieve.

5.67 miles South to Phipps Pass.

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations

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Hiking North

Traversing the Ridge
down to Meeks Bay

Hiking South

Lake Genevieve

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Hiking Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Hiking the Desolation trail to the PCT


Alex Wierbinski

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Frosted Backpack

Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

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

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© Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail