Back to index Upper Velma and Fontanillis Lakes
Trip Date:  06/09/2014

: 10.75 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1800'

Group Size: 1

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Upper Velma & Fontanillis route
Download GPX GPX for this trip
Upper Velma & Fontanillis 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.  The cross country section of this hike, from the west end of Eagle Lake up past the unnamed falls and finally reaching the trail once again took three hours to go three miles and was extremely strenuous.  
The trail to Middle Velma Lake is rocky and has significant loose footing.  The section from Upper Velma to Fontanillis Falls is cross country over open granite.
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.

Lower Eagle falls just below the parking area with Emerald Bay in the background. Eagle Falls just below the parking area and TH
Granite steps making up the very start of the trail. Granite steps on the trail
More nice views abound as you look back at Emerald Bay on the way up the trail. More great views as you climb up the trail
Looking back at Eagle Lake from the west side. Eagle Lake
Trail marker either down to Eagle Lake or up further into Desolation Wilderness. Trail juncation
An unnamed falls that flows out of Lower Velma lake and into the west end of Eagle Lake. Unnamed Falss
A closer look at the unname falls freely flowing this spring. Closer look
A look back at Eagle Lake from the cross country section above the west side of the lake. Back at Eagle Lake
Upper Velma Lake at the bottom of Fontanillis Falls. Upper Velma Lake
A look up at Fontanillis Falls from Upper Velma lake. A look at Fontanillis Falls
Up near the top of Fontanillis Falls. Neart the top of the falls
Fontanillis falls looking south across toward Dick's Peak. Fontanillis Lake
Another view SE across Fontanillis Lake from the Pacific Crest Trail. Fontanillis Lake
The view of Upper Velma lake from the top of Fontanillis Falls. Upper Velma from the top of the falls
If you choose to continue on past the lake on the Eagle Lake trail, views like this of the lake below and Eagle Lake Buttress in the background await. View of Eagle Lake from high above
Myself stopped for a selfie at the first unnamed falls on the trail. Yours truly at the unnamed falls
GPS track of the hike starting at the bottom and heading to the lake. GPS Track of the hike