Back to index Lake Fontanillis Hike
Trip Date:  10/30/2011

: 13.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 3180'

Group Size: 1

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Lake Fontanillis Trail Route
See video of this hike  See video of hike   Download GPXGPX for this trip
Lake Fontanillis Trail Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 57.117  W 120 06.796     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 89 to Emerald Bay.  Parking is available for a $5 fee in the Eagle Falls parking lot, or on the street just outside of it.
Hazards of Note:   Some long uphill sections of granite boulders requiring careful stepping. Crowd Factor:   Busy up to Eagle Lake, especially on weekends.  This is one of the most popular easy hikes in the Tahoe Basin area.  Past Eagle Lake the number of people thins out significantly.
General Notes:
The hike to and from Eagle Lake is a very popular introduction to Desolation Wilderness.  Past Eagle Lake is much less travelled, but still will have a number of people on the trails itself.   There are a couple of water crossings on the section past Eagle Lake to the Middle Velma Lake to be careful of.  Continue along the south shore of Middle Velma Lake until you pick up the Pacific Crest Trail at a junction and a sign for Phipps Pass.  Head south along this PCT section for a little over a mile, until you reach Lake Fontanillis on your right.  The Fontanillis Falls just below the lake are spectacular, especially in the early spring and summer when the water levels are at their highest.  
Past Fontanillis you continue on the PCT until you reach Dick's Lake.  Take the trail junction here away from Dick's Pass and back toward Bayview trail.  Once you join up with Bayview trail again you will have the option in another mile or so to either continue back on the Eagle Lake trail the way you came, or stay on the Bayview trail and come out on Highway 89 just about a mile south of the Eagle Falls trailhead.  If you elect to go this way, be aware you will have to walk along the road itself for about a mile to get back to the car.

Since this is a hike into Desolation Wilderness, you will need a day permit (free at the trailhead) and the group size limit is 12.

Maggie's Peaks just south of the trailhead. Maggie's Peaks near the trailhead
Emerald Bay early in the morning from near the trailhead. Emerald Bay early in the morning from the trailhead
Back on the main road after the trail is a very interesting mosiac fish statue. Looking back at Eagle Lake passage
Heading down toward Middle Velma Lake. Coming down toward Middle Velma Lake
Stopping for a quick break at Middle Velma Lake. Taking a break at Middle Velma Lake
First look at the amazing Fontanillis Lake. First look at Fontanillis Lake
Much of the big waterfall out of Fontanillis. Waterfall out of Fontanillis Lake
Lunch spot over Upper Velma Lake with Lake Tahoe in the distance. Lunch spot over Upper Velma Lake
View across Dick's Lake and up toward Dick's Pass. View across Dick's Lake
Looking toward the back of Mt. Tallac from Bayview Trail. Back side of Mt. Tallac
View down toward Eagle Lake from Bayview Trail crest. Eagle Lake from Bayview Trail
GPS track of the hike. GPS track of hike