Back to index Susie Lake Hike
Trip Date:  04/13/2015

: 9.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1500'

Group Size: 12

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Susie Lake Route
Download GPX GPX for this trip
Susie Lake Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 52.610  W 120 04.811     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Drive all the way to the west end of Fallen Leaf Lake Rd, and turn onto Glen Alpine Rd up to the parking area near Lily Lake.  If full, you may have to park along the road.
Hazards of Note:   The first mile of the hike from Glen Alpine toward Grass Lake is very rocky and will eat ankles if not careful.
There are a number of trail junctions along the section of the hike up to Gilmore Lake.  Make sure you take the correct one left toward Lake Aloha once you have passed most of the rocky uphill section.  
Crowd Factor:   Busy, especially on weekends.  
General Notes:
The first part of this hike follows a very well-maintained Desolation Wilderness trail, which climbs relentlessly up to about a mile before Lake Gilmore.  Past the constant switchbacks and rocky elevation gain along the first couple miles, there is the first of a few junctions on the trail and you want to head to your left.  The sign points to Lake Aloha, and you do NOT want to head toward Gilmore Lake.  Take this trail for less than a mile, and then another junction sign appears, pointing to Susie Lake to your left.  Once you reach this you will have about 3/4 of a mile to go before you get to the lake.  Follow the trail along the east side of the lake to the water crossing.  If it is spring or early summer, there will be lots of water flowing out of the lake, creating a nice waterfall you can see, as well as further down a 200' drop which you really can't see well.  But, the views out across the valley toward Grass Lake from this area are worth the meandering.

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.

Our group gathered at the parking area and ready to set out on today's adventure. At the parking area
Some of us gathered at the wilderness permit kiosk and the official trailhead for the hike. Wilderness permit kiosk
Upper Glen Alpine Falls is a nice stop for an early break along the rocky first section of trail out of Glen Alpine. Upper Glen Alpine
There is a lot of uphill in the first couple of miles, as well as rocky switchbacks that help with some of the steady elevation gain. Heading up
Continuing to climb is a major theme for this early section of hike.  If you keep your eyes up on the right side you can see sections of the dangerous Middle Tallac trail high above. Continuing to climb
Lots of nice viewpoints along the way, including this spot for a group shot that has Cracked Crag and (just off to the left) Keith's Dome behind the Grass Lake valley area. Group Photo
Signposts like this one will help you find the directions to head along Desolation Wilderness hikes. Marker post
Nice first look at the still partially frozen Susie Lake and Jacks and Dicks Peaks in the background. First look at Susie Lake
The middle peak of the three main Crystal Range peaks, Mt. Agassiz looking from the east.  The beautiful Heather Lake is just above the first rise, a couple miles past on this same trail. Mt. Agassiz
Looking southwest at more of Susie Lake with Cracked Crag appearing just near the left side of the shot. Cracked Crag
Closeup of Susie Lake Falls near the start of them from our lunch spot on the trip. Susie Lake Falls
Our group enjoying the spot we had by the top of the falls. Lunch
View of Grass Lake from the top of where the Susie Lake Falls drop a couple hundred feet down. Grass Lake
A shot of the actual falls where they drop down into the valley far below, and a second shot showing the same falls from the top of Echo Peak. Falls drop Falls from afar
Another shot of Susie Lake and mountains around on our return trip. Susie on the way out
One of many water crossings to be navigated during spring and early summer treks along this trail. Water crossing
Members of the group on the way back down, just about a mile from the start. Almost back
Looking north toward Emerald Bay from the peak. GPS track of the hike