Back to index Lake Schmidell Hike Backpack (Day 3)
Trip Date:  06/27/2021

: 8.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1400'

Group Size: 3

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
4-Q Lakes to Emerald Bay Route
See video of this hike  See video of hike   Download GPX GPX for this trip
4-Q Lakes to Emerald Bay Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N/A - This is a continuation from Day 2     End Coordinates:   N 38 56.768  W 120 05.883
Car Shuttle Req'd:   Yes Parking Directions:   Take Highway 89 to Emerald Bay on the west side of Lake Tahoe to the Bayview Campground parking area.
Hazards of Note:   The trail in the Rockbound Valley through Camper Flat and beyond is overgrown and often filled with water.   Multiple crossings are necessary, with the last one being the Rubicon River. Crowd Factor:   Low to High.   The beginning of the day will be very uncrowded until you reach Middle Velma Lake and the PCT.  From here there will be people on the trail everywhere all the way to the Bayview Parking area.
General Notes:
From 4-Q Lakes the trail almost immediately heads down, and after only a mile you reach the floor of the valley.   This section of trail was very wet and overgrown, with water crossings multiple times over the next mile or so.   Just past Camper Flat is a junction to head toward the Velma Lakes and the PCT, heading east and crossing the Rubicon River.  Just past this crossing the trail will begin a constant climb for the next nearly 5 miles, but affords amazing views of the area traversed over the past few days and even up north toward Loon Lake and the peaks that sound it.

At the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail at about 5 1/2 miles into the day, there are suddenly and seemingly people everywhere.   From this point on we passed group after group of both day hikers and backpackers on their way to all sorts of destinations.  The climb will continue past Middle Velma Lake, until you climb up the ridgeline immediately to the west of South Maggie's Peak, the high point for this section of trail.   In fact, once here the last two miles are a very sharp series of switchbacks and trail downward, until you reach the end at Bayview Campground at Emerald Bay, the end of the 3 day backpacking trip.

Since this is a hike into Desolation Wilderness, you will need an overnight wilderness permit which includes all members of the group.

Early this morning we caught more Alpenglow on the ridgeline that our previous night's lake was on the other side of. Sunrise at the lake
Another warning about not bringing horses any further along this trail as it descends down into Rockbound Valley. On the trail early 
Once we reached Camper Flat, much of the trail looked a lot like this, requiring navigational skill to attempt to keep your feet as dry as possible. Murky trail
This marker for Mineral Springs has seen better days, but at least we knew exactly where we were. Repairs needed
Just before the Velma Lakes junction, we passed the trail that we passed at the other end on the first day, which would take us to Lake Schmidell from down in the valley far below.   Our trail marker to the Velmas was just about 1/4 mile past that first marker. Red Mountain Velma junction
One advantage of a fairly dry winter was that the Rubicon River was no issue to cross at all.   Some of the earlier tributaries through Camper Flat were much harder to navigate. Rubicon Crossing
Past the river crossing, for the first time since the first day, we welcomed some well-marked trails that didn't have to be guessed at. Marked trail
As we continually gained altitude, we were able to look back west and take in the entire range of travel from our first two days, at least on this side of the Crystal Range ridge. Looking back
Eventually we reached the Pacific Crest Trail, and then soon had a nice first look at Middle Velma Lake. Velma in sight 
A little further up we began to see and head toward Mt. Tallac, a signature peak in the Desolation Wilderness. Mt Tallac
Ironically enough, this unnamed pond past the Velmas has one of the best lake views of the day. View
At the day's high point behind South Maggie's Peak, you can look down upon Eagle Lake far below. Eagle Lake
Just past the view of the lake, the serious downhill starts for the next couple miles. Down down down
The double distraction of Granite Lake below with Lake Tahoe in the background make for a nice trip down the steep section of trail over the final two miles of the trip. Granite Lake and Tahoe beyond
Finally, the Bayview campground parking area comes into sight and we are done with the trip.  A successful adventure traversing across Desolation Wilderness from west to east. Finished
GPS track of the hike, starting at the upper left and heading down into Rockbound Valley, across the Rubicon River and then out at Emerald Bay. GPS Track of the hike