Back to index Meeks Bay to Phipps Peak (Desolation Wilderness)
Trip Date:  10/28/2014

: 20.1 Miles

Vertical Gain: 3300'

Group Size: 1

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate   Hard    Strenuous
Meeks Bay to Phipps Peak and back
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Meeks Bay to Phipps Peak Trail Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 39 02.240, W 120 07.578     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 89 to Meeks Bay, which is north of Emerald Bay and DL Bliss State Park.  The trailhead parking is right near Mile Marker #61, at the provided coordinates.
Hazards of Note:   Well maintained trail, but exceptionally long and bordering strenuous if doing the entire 20 miles. Crowd Factor:   Minimal.  This is one of the least-frequented access points into Desolation Wilderness.
General Notes:
Starting at the trailhead, the first mile is mostly along a dirt road which is flat and wide.  There are a couple of good views of Rubicon Peak, but then for the next three and a half miles you are mostly in a forested area.  The trail starts to climb gradually after the first few miles.
When you reach the first of the many lakes along this way, Genevieve, you have nearly 5 miles under your belt, and the next lakes you will come to in order are Crag, Shadow, Stony Ridge, and then finally Rubicon.  The trail between Stony Ridge and Rubicon gains a lot of elevation, and there are many switchbacks over this stretch which quickly add to the elevation gain.  
Continue past Rubicon Lake toward Phipps Pass, and you will soon be greeted with a wonderful view into the heart of Desolation Wilderness, toward Dick's Peak and Mt. Tallac, with the Velmas visible far below you as well.   Once you are anywhere from .3 to .4 miles from the top, you can leave the trail to cross country to the top, or you can continue on your current trail past the peak and then find easier passage to the top that way.

Trailhead parking area at Meeks Bay entrance to Desolation Wilderness. Meeks Bay Trailhead area
I was surprised to see this marker given that I had always heard the Tahoe-Yosemite trail was 'unofficial.'
Tahoe Yosemite Trail
Nice view of Rubicon Peak to the south of us from early on in the hike. Rubicon Peak
Nice bridge over the river along the way, but I learned long ago that wet logs without bark are just asking for trouble slipping off.  Went around the rocks on the side in order to avoid trouble. Help across the river
Genevieve Lake, the first of many that you will pass hiking along this trail. Genevieve Lake
Just past the first lake is Crag Lake, with a number of rocky islands with trees growing on them which first caught my attention last year as I saw it from the top of Rubicon Peak.  Very nice spot. Crag Lake
The next lake I found worthy of a photograph is Stony Ridge Lake, the largest of the ones found along this hike.  The east side of the lake is all granite up to the peak, hence the name. Stony Ridge Lake
A good example of the reason Stony Ridge Lake was named that. Stony Ridge Lake
Looking back toward Stony Ridge Lake and the way the trail has passed, including Ellis Peak in the distance and even Twin Peaks further behind that. Looking back
The peaceful setting for Rubicon Lake, a good 500 feet in elevation above Stony Ridge Lake.  Snow on the ground from the previous week showed me that this hadn't been visited at least since that time. Rubicon Lake
The trail just continues up for the rest of the way to the peak, following the Phipps Pass markers all along the way. Phipps Pass
From Phipps Pass, the view above Goose Lakes below toward Mt. Tallac is just a preview of what's to come. View above Goose Lakes
The rocky trail up Phipps Pass that did its best to show off the beauty of Desolation Wilderness below. Phipps Pass trail
Only .2 miles away, the top of Phipps Peak looks to be an imposing climb after already having logged 10 miles on the day.  But it's worth every moment for the views at the top. Almost there
Lake Tahoe and the South Shore in the distance from the top of Phipps Peak. Tahoe from the peak
From the peak, look south into the heart of the Velma Lakes basin, with Dick's Peak directly behind and Upper Velma and Fontanillis Lakes visible above Middle Velma in the front. Middle Velma and Dicks Peak
Looking back toward Stony Ridge Lake and the way the trail has passed, including Ellis Peak in the distance and even Twin Peaks further behind that. Me at the top
Rockbound Valley to the Northwest, as seen from the Peak.  Rockbound Lake and Buck Island Lake are visible, as well as the mountains which lie just north of the not visible Loon Lake. Rockbound Valley
GPS track of the hike starting at the bottom left. GPS Track of the hike