My backpack: The Harness of Pain and Pleasure. Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Desolation Wilderness Boundary South of Meeks Bay Trailhead.
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Meeks Bay Trailhead
Backpacker's Resources

Not Much. Come prepared.

Meeks Bay Marina has a few snacks & soda a few hundred yards North of Meeks Bay Trailhead.

There are not much in the way of backpacker resources anywhere around Meeks Bay Trailhead. In fact, the length of Highway 89 South from Tahoe City all the way down to South Lake Tahoe is a beautiful twisting road with few services marking out the convoluted boundary between lake, dense forest, and the rising Sierra.

Local Resources
Our nearby major sources of supplies, gear, food, medical services, and hotels are located to our North and South in Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe, respectively.

Four miles North of Meeks Bay Trailhead the tiny hamlet of Tahoma has an excellent deli in its rustic little local grocery store. There's also a decent pizza place in the mini mall on the West side of Highway 89, across from the store and deli. Road Map.

Add Your Report
Local/Tehoma/Meeks Bay Resources

If we need specialized backpacking gear, food, or general grocery store type food to fill out our backpacking supplies we need to get them as we pass through Tahoe City or South Lake Tahoe, again depending on if we approach Meeks Bay Trailhead from the North or South.

Check out the road map below to locate the major nearby centers of resources to our North in Tahoe City and to our South in South Lake Tahoe relative to our position at Meeks Bay Trailhead.

I've always hung out in South Lake Tahoe since visiting during Summers as a kid. Today I still prefer to use Highway 50 to access the Tahoe Basin from the Bay Area, and still stage most of my Tahoe backpacking trips, and even access the East Sierra through South Lake Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe
Backpacker Resources

Desolation Wilderness Backpacking Maps
Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map
Desolation Wilderness
30 minute Backpacking Map


Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations


Meeks Bay Trailhead

Backpacker Resources
Hiker Information

This page considers the sparse resources near the Meeks Bay Trailhead.
Arrive there with what you need.
On this page




Meeks Bay



Store and Deli



Meeks Bay
Resort and Marina



South Lake Tahoe
Backpacker Resources



Google Road Map
Meeks Bay Trailhead



Trail Guide
Use and Operation



Meeks Bay Resources Discussion

Weather, Road and Fire Information

Below find the closest Ground Stations, Point and Regional Forecasts along the West shore of Lake Tahoe.

Satellite and Radar Imagery provides Long Range and Regional overviews.

Echo Summit Weather Forecast

Echo Summit
Point Forecast

Tahoe City
Point Forecast

Regional Forecasts

Regional Forecast Greater Lake Tahoe

Regional Forecast
West Slope Sierra
Tahoe to Yosemite

South Lake Tahoe
Regional Weather Information
High Sierra Weather Resources
Real Time
Ground Reporting Stations

Rubicon 2

Fallen Leaf

Echo Peak


Ground Reporting Stations

N Calif Stations

Calif Snotel

Road Conditions

Lake Tahoe Basin Highway Conditions

Big View

North California

Big View

Western US

All Weather and Fire Information

All High Sierra Weather Resources

High Sierra Fire and Smoke Information

>Backpacker's Forum <


The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

All backpackers can post text comments, questions, and are invited to share their experiences in this Meeks Bay to Echo Lake section of trail, or post up here about your knowledge of local backpacker resources through the comments links on this page.

Post what you know about Sierra Trails on the
Tahoe to Yosemite Trail backpackers Forum.

Registered Members can post up text, images, maps and videos in the Trails Forum that supplements and updates the trail guide's coverage of the trails all the way down to the Whitney Portal.

Share the important and interesting things you experience.

Check out the Tahoe to Whitney .org Backpacking Trails and Topics forums to review the upcoming trails, and what we will need to hike them.



Tahoma Store
Tehoma Store and Deli, 4 miles North of the Meeks Bay Trailhead

This Store, and a pizza parlor just South of here along Highway 89, are the only food resources near the trailhead. They are about 4 miles North of the Meeks Bay trailhead.

The folks in here were Eastern Euros recently transplanted to the West Shore of Lake Tahoe in '09. They were nice folks.

The Deli Sandwiches were great in 2009.

How are they Now?


post up info-comments

PDQ Tahoma on FaceCrook

The Tahoma Store and Deli

Tahoma is a small town located about 4 miles North of the Meeks Bay trail head. It is the nearest place for resources of any substance whatsoever.

The Tahoma Store's deli makes huge sandwiches on fine bread, and has most of what you will need for a picnic lunch.

They have a small grocery store as well.

A bit South of the Tahoma Store there is a tiny shopping center on the West side of the road that has a pizza parlor.

It is behind us from the perspective above.

I had a few pieces in 2009. It was pretty good.

That's about it for Tahoma!



Tahoe to Yosemite trail sign, one of two down the whole trail

Tahoe to Yosemite trail post just South of the Meeks Bay Trailhead.

This is one of two signs that mention the TYT down the whole TYT trail.


If you are driving in, you can easily access the food resources at Tahoma. If you are hitching, it may be hit or miss.

I always like to feed-up before hitting the trail, so this is important to me.

It stretches out my food supply!

If you forgot anything, broke anything, or need any gear or food, your last chance to get it will be in Tahoe City or South Lake Tahoe.

The semi-isolated location of Meeks Bay means I'm likely going to arrive late in the day at the trail head, the way I travel.

Anticipating delays of our arrival time at the trailhead in our plans is wise.

This will affect how far we can get the first day, which will inject some uncertainty into our trip plan for this first section of trail.


Near the Meeks Bay Trail Head


The Meeks Bay Resort and Marina

Meeks Bay Resort and Marina

The Meeks Bay Resort and Marina sits 100 yards North of the Meeks Bay Trail Head on the lake side of Highway 89.

No trail or hot food, a small convenience store
with chips, candy, and soda.


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South Lake Tahoe

Resources Central

In my opinion the center of local resources is 16.2 miles South in South Lake Tahoe. Which location you seek resources from, South Lake Tahoe to the South or Tahoe City to the North, depends on which way you are approaching Meeks Bay.

You will get what you need along your approach route to the Meeks Bay trail head, independent of which way you come in.
If you are driving South down 89 to Meeks Bay you will pass through Tahoe City, if you drive North up 89 to Meeks Bay South Lake Tahoe is along your route.

Both Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe have large grocery stores,
comprehensive gear stores, and lots of restaurants and hotels.

If you find yourself stuck at Meeks Bay seeking full resources, I'd head South to South Lake Tahoe. The reasons are many.

South Lake Tahoe is located on Highway 50, which is easy hitching East into the Carson Valley or West down to the San Joaquin Valley. Highway 80 sucks.

South Lake Tahoe has Amtrack Bus connections both to Reno
and the Bay Area via Sacramento. Highway 80 does not.

I find it easier to access Meeks Bay from the South, but the best way for you will depend on the direction you approach the Tahoe Basin. You will find no lack of resources approaching Meeks Bay from the North or South.

South Lake Tahoe Resources

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Again, let's look at the google map to Locate
Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe

Now let's check the Topo Maps for a detailed look at the relationship of the Meeks Bay Trailhead to the Highways around the Southwest end of the Tahoe Basin.

Desolation Wilderness
30 minute Backpacking Map

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map

Phipps Pass to Highway 50
South Desolation Wilderness Backpacking Map
Meiss Country Roadless Area
Southwestern Corner of the Tahoe Basin

We have the option of using a series of trailheads wedged in along the steep interface between the shining High Sierra rock, the dense dark forests, and sweet blue lake that Highway 89 traces out its route along the Southwestern Shore of Lake Tahoe.

The Eagle Falls, Bayview, Mount Tallac, and Fallen Leaf Lake Trailheads South of our Meeks Bay Trailhead provide a series access points to the PCT & TYT route where it crosses the Northern, Central, and Southern parts of the Desolation Wilderness.



The Series
Desolation Wilderness Trailheads
Highway 89
On the trail maps linked to above we can see the series of trailheads running South from Meeks Bay along Highway 89 sporting trails leading Southwest and South up the very steep Eastern Escarpment of the Sierra into Desolation Wilderness.
The first two of these are the Eagle Falls and Bayview Trailheads. Eagle Falls is perched above Emerald Bay, while Bayview is located at the top of the narrow ridge dividing Emerald Bay from Cascade Lake.

Our next trailhead South of Bayview Camp is the Mount Tallac Trailhead overlooking the access points around Fallen Leaf Lake to our South. Access into Desolation Wilderness over Mount Tallac is the highest and steepest way to get into Desolation Wilderness from the North.

From Lilly Lake above the Southwestern end of Fallen Leaf Lake we can climb the Glen Alpine trail Northwest into Central Desolation, or we can venture into the Southern end of Desolation Wilderness by hiking South from Lilly Lake up the very steep trail to cross the Desolation boundary in the high mountain gap under Agora and Echo Peaks.

The four maps linked to above depict all these trailhead and trail options, even
including the Meiss Country Roadless Area to the South of Desolation Wilderness.

Each of these trails out of the trailheads along Highway 89 South of Meeks Bay begin with a fairly significant Hard 2 degree of difficulty climbing steeply up a total elevation gain of between 1700 to 2000 feet, over very short distances. I rate Glen Alpine as a Hard 3.

All of these trails climb to the Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trails,
which share the main trail route across the length of Desolation Wilderness.

The TYT trail climbing from Meeks Bay to our first potential campsite
at Lake Genevieve climbs 1161 feet over 4.39 miles.
That's fairly easy.

Our Meeks Bay Trailhead into the North end of the Desolation Wilderness appears to me to be the most gradual access point into the North end of this granite wonderland wrapping around the West Shore of Lake Tahoe called Desolation Wilderness. Gradual also means longer, and ultimately higher.

Crossing 8800 feet of elevation over Phipps Pass brings our TYT route higher than any of the other trails out of Highway 89 Trailheads, other than the Tallac Trail reaching 9440 feet climbing over Mount Tallac, and that's not including the spur up to Tallac's 9735 foot peak.

Our TYT route crosses 11.5 miles to intersect with the route of the PCT from Meeks Bay.

The trails out of the other Highway 89 Desolation Wilderness Trailheads measure between 4 to 7 miles to reach the PCT-TYT running across the center of Desolation Wilderness. But they cover their shorter distance climbing more steeply, while our longer route along the TYT has the luxury of a gentle climb to start with, and a valley filled with lakes, before climbing higher than the other routes from the Highway 89 Trailheads, except the Tallac Trail, to finally reach its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail.

NORTH into Desolation Wilderness

out of
Lower Echo Lake Trailhead
The long, gradual uphill hike Northbound out of the Lower Echo Lake Trailhead up to the North end of Lake Aloha is much less steep than the trails coming out of the West Shore Trailheads along Highway 89. The hike up from the Lower Echo Lake Trailhead is a longer more gradual climb compared to the shorter, steeper routes coming up deeper into the interior of Desolation Wilderness from the Highway 89 Trailheads.

Desolation Wilderness
30 minute Backpacking Map

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations

Click the red dots on the trail maps linked to above that mark the trail junctions along our TYT route leading to the West Shore Trailheads.
We determine the miles out to each of these Highway 89 Trailheads from the TYT-PCT at each trail junction as we hike South.

Comments?                  top of page


Information Board
at the
Meeks bay Trailhead

This Trailhead Sign Board marks the beginning of our Tahoe to Yosemite
backpacking trip into the Desolation Wilderness
Information Board at the Meeks Bay Trailhead

Desolation Wilderness Permits
The Meeks Bay Trailhead into Desolation Wilderness is so busy during Summertime it has its own seasonal permit station. Hit the contacts link below for information about the dates and hours of the Summertime permit stations along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe.

The whole Southwestern Tahoe Basin is very busy during Summertime, not just Desolation Wilderness.

The Desolation Wilderness imposes permit restrictions and a zone quota system to determine the number of permits they split 50-50 between advance reservations made up to six months in advance against those held for daily trailhead availability.

Thus permits for June can be reserved in January, permits for July in February, and so on. We have our annual backpacking calendar to keep track of these things.

One of the benefits of Membership is that I offer the print versions (If I make any) to the members at cost. They are cool and very informative calendars online or on you wall.

The link below leads us to the links to the range of LTBMU Desolation Wilderness information, the Sierra Wild information about Desolation, and the Desolation Wilderness permit reservation system through

I suggest reviewing the LTBMU info first, then the Sierra Wild info before hitting the reservation website. Desolation Wilderness has lots of rules.

We can also obtain permits from local Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Ranger Stations during the non-reservation times of year. Or if we are gambling that we can get a permit at the trailhead during Summertime. In that case I would call the LTBMU to determine my odds of success.
The LTBMU has its main office in South Lake Tahoe and a big office in Truckee just off Highway 80
two miles East of the Highway 89 exit.

There are also Summertime-only Ranger Stations at Meeks Bay and the
Taylor Creek Visitor Center along Highway 89.

To verify the Summer Stations opening dates, hours of operation, and the permit restrictions and limitations at the Desolation Wilderness, check out this collection of Desolation Wilderness and contact information:
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Contacts.

I suggest contacting the South Lake Tahoe Rangers to arrange a custom permit for our Tahoe to Yosemite or Tahoe to Whitney backpacking trips.

For local backpacking permits remaining within the Tahoe Basin we go through the reservation system.
For custom long-distance backpacking permits we contact the LTBMU Rangers.

Don't try to get a TYT permit to scam the Desolation limits.

Comments?                  top of page

  Last Page: Finding Meeks Bay                        top of page                               South TYT: The Desolation Trail

Trail Guide

Every trail guide page on this guide is linked to the guide pages to the North, South, and to that section's trail guide index through links at the top and bottom of each page.

The Guide Indexes access information for all the trail guide sections.

Every trail guide page links to the maps and mileage information for that specific location, that segment of trail, and the whole section of the trail we are hiking.

From each page we can quickly access the guide, maps, and miles information for the whole Sierra between Tahoe and Whitney.

Every part of the guide links to every other part.

Every Map is an Index
The maps are the same. Besides each map having red dots linking to the trail guide entry for that location, the black dots on the large-scale 30 minute maps link to the detailed maps.

Each map is festooned with links to the maps
to our North and South along our route, and to the list of maps covering each section.

Every Miles Page is an Index
The miles and elevations pages are the same, with each location linked to that location's specific trail guide entry, and the links at the top and bottom of each of the miles pages bring us to the miles and elevations figures for the trail sections to our North and South.

Interlinked Information from Tahoe to Whitney
These features on the guide pages, the map pages, and the miles pages allow us to easily and quickly browse large lengths of trail guide information very quickly.

Happy Trails!

Trail Guide Index

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Meeks Bay Trail head

continued (back)

Meeks Bay

Trailhead location,
Access, Transportation,
Directions to Meeks Bay

The Meeks Bay Trail head into the Desolation Wilderness is the easiest backpacker access point for hiking into to the North end of Desolation Wilderness, but the hardest of all three of our Lake Tahoe Region trailhead options to get to, especially if you hitch-hike and/or rely on public transportation as I do.

Meeks Bay's location on Highway 89 on the Western Shore of Lake Tahoe is fairly remote, at least as far as public transportation and easy hitch-hiking goes. Or does not go...

Two main routes connect Lake Tahoe with the rest of the world.

Highway 80 runs East-West to the North of the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, while Highway 50 runs East-West along the South Shore of Lake Tahoe. These two main routes are supplemented by two other significant routes.

The Kingsbury Grade connects the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe to the 395 corridor through the towns of Minden and Gardnerville in the South end of the Carson Valley. Highway 89 does not just connect Highways 80 and 50 along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe.

From South Lake Tahoe Highway 89 continues South out of the Tahoe Basin over Luther Pass to run East with Highway 88 to run all the way Southeast down into the North end of Antelope Valley (Topaz Lake, and the excellent little town of Walker...) via Markleeville, and then through the Magnificent Monitor Pass.

Monitor is not much as far as High Sierra Passes go, but it feeds into a world class gorge cutting down the Eastern Escarpment into Antelope Valley.

These are our main North, South, East, and West road access points to Lake Tahoe,
though there are other routes.

To Meeks Bay on Highway 89
from the
Highway 80 and Tahoe City

The Environment
HIghway 89 is a winding and twisting narrow road through dense forest along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe no matter which way you get there. It is a slow road to drive, and is as easily clogged by weekend traffic during Summer as it is during Winter ski season.

The Lake Tahoe Basin has both daily and seasonal traffic, depending on where you are.

From Highway 80 the Highway 89 exit South to Tahoe City is clearly marked.

13.6 miles South of Highway 80 on Highway 89 we will veer Right, or South, in Tahoe City to continue South on Highway 89 along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe towards the Meeks Bay trailhead.
The Meeks Bay trailhead is another 11 miles South of Tahoe City on Highway 89.

Again, it is a slow 11 miles South to the Meeks Bay Trailhead.

Public Transportation
North Shore
Public transportation does come most of the way down Highway 89 to Meeks Bay from the North,
if we are approaching Meeks Bay from the North through Tahoe City.

Though we can take public transportation South on Highway 89 from Tahoe City towards Meeks Bay, that bus line ends (pdf) about three miles North of our Meeks Bay trailhead. The last stop on the line is just a wee bit South of the Tahoma Store and Deli.

Ironically, the problem with using the available public transpo coming from the North is there is no public transportation running East and West along the Highway 80 corridor between San Francisco and Reno.
Getting up Highway 80 to the North Shore of Tahoe without a car can be challenging. HItch-hiking is not what it used to be, nor are we.

I use caution and discretion hitch-hiking, and so should you. But, on the other hand I have met the best folks who have become life-long friends who've picked me up hitch-hiking to, around, and from the Sierra Nevada. Life is a double-edged sword. We must be cautious not to cut ourselves on it, but be especially cautious not to cut ourselves off from potentially great experiences.

Jeeze, I have some good hitch-hiking experiences!

If you know of a transportation service between San Francisco and Reno across Highway 80 that drops us off near the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, post it up here. I don't.

From Tahoe City we can use local public transportation from Tahoe City South down HIghway 89 to Meeks Bay Trailhead or easily hitch-hike. It all depends on getting a ride up HIghway 80 to the North Shore.

South Shore
There is bus access from the Bay Area to Reno via South Lake Tahoe up Highway 50 by Amtrack. But there is no local public transportation North from South Lake Tahoe up Highway 89 to Meeks Bay at all.

Backpackers without cars will find traveling to the Meeks Bay Trailhead a bit challenging.

Oh, and the good thing about not having a car, besides meeting lots of locals on the way to the trailhead, is that I don't have to come back to get it when the trip is done.


To Meeks Bay on Highway 89
from the
Highway 50 and South Lake Tahoe

There is no public transportation to Meeks Bay up Highway 89 from South Lake Tahoe, for those backpackers who access South Lake Tahoe via Highway 50. There is public transportation directly to the junction of Highway 89 and 50 in South Lake Tahoe, the "Tahoe Y" from the San Francisco Bay Area via a combination of Amtrack's train to Sacramento, which connects with the Amtrack bus to Reno via South Lake Tahoe.

From the Tahoe Y it is 16.2 miles North on Highway 89 to the Meeks Bay Trailhead.

The Amtrack bus from the Bay Area will drop us off at the Tahoe Y, where Highways 89 and 50 intersect, but that's where the public transportation ends. Those depending on pubic transportation will have to hitch-hike from there to Meeks Bay themselves. But not to worry, hitch-hiking is very easy in the Tahoe Basin.

Just walk diagonally across the intersection from the Tahoe Y bus station, and hitch North on Highway 89. The locals are real friendly, and a few of the out-of-towners are too. But South Lake Tahoe has grown beyond its small town roots, and much of the traffic looks like a suburban commute. Lot's of blank, if not hostile stares, nowadays.

In any case, the South Lake Tahoe region is a still a good place to hitch-hike for backpackers. In fact, the Sierras are good hitching, as well as good hiking!

Meeks Bay
In Meeks Bay, the trail head itself is set-back off of the West side of Highway 89 directly across from a trailer park, a 100 yards South of the well-signed Meeks Bay Resort, and 75 yards South of a National Park Service fire station.
As we can see from these photographs of the landmarks around the Meeks Bay trailhead on the Find Meeks Bay page, that there is a substantial seasonal permit cabin, and a prominent information board that are clearly visible from Highway 89.

If we are coming to Meeks Bay from the North, from Highway 80 to Highway 89 South,  we look for the tiny town of Tahoma. After passing about 4 miles South of Tahoma, we see the Meeks Bay Resort and NPS fire station on our left about a 100 yards before coming upon Log Cabin Road, (Also known as Forest Route 14N42) and the Meeks Bay trail head on our right.

There is a substantial parking lot at the trailhead.

If we are coming to Meeks Bay from the South, from Highway 50 and South Lake Tahoe up Highway 89 North, the trailhead appears on our left directly across Highway 89 from a trailer park less than a half-mile after we pass a little red two garage fire house in Rubicon Bay. If we reach the Meeks Bay Resort and the Forest Service fire station on our right, we have just passed the trailhead!

There is more info about local transportation on the
Lake Tahoe Backpacker Resources page.


Local Resources

Local resources are sparse in Meeks Bay, with the Meeks Bay Resort
offering little more than candy bars, chips and soda.

But there is real food available in Tahoma, consisting of a Pizzeria and a Deli,
about four miles North on Highway 89.

The pizza place is good in Tahoma, but the real treat to my tastes is the monster sandwiches available in the deli in the Tahoma store, pictured above. They are kind of expensive, but they are huge.

South Lake Tahoe Resources

Next Trail Guide Page South
Hiking South from Meeks Bay

Map Information

Topo Map: Meeks to Phipps Pass                       Topo Map: Lake Genevieve to Phipps Pass

Topo Map: Phipps Pass to Lake Aloha

Miles and Elevations

back to previous page
TYT discussion

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Backpacker Forums

Post it on
The Backpacker's Forum.

Above we come to the Front Page of the High Backpacking Trails and Topics Forums. Below we break the forums down into categories:

High Sierra Trails High Sierra Topics

Anyone can post text comments in the existing forums, but only members can post up new topics, along with images, maps, and formatting.

Become a Member

If you have experiences, comments, questions, trip reports, trail conditions updates or pictures and videos of the Tahoe to Yosemite/Pacific Crest Trail from Meeks Bay to Echo Summit, post up here as an unknown hiker or as a member:

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Lake Tahoe Trailhead Options
Meeks Bay Trailhead

  Last Page: Finding Meeks Bay                        South on the The Desolation Trail


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

Snug tent after Snow Storm
© Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail