Back to index TRT - Segment 8 - Eagle Falls to Barker Pass
Trip Date:  08/12/2015

: 20.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1800'

Group Size: 1

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate   Hard    Strenuous
TRT Segment 7 Trip
Download GPX GPX for this trip
TRT Segment 8Trail Profile

Start Coordinates:   N 38 57.117  W 120 06.796     End Coordinates:   N 39 04.629, W 120 14.096

Car Shuttle Req'd:   Yes Parking Directions:   For parking at Emerald Bay 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 for no charge.
To get to the parking area for Barker Pass,  take Highway 89 to Barker Pass Road, which is just north of the town of Tahoe Pines.  Drive about 7.4 miles up Barker Pass road to the parking area on the right for the Pacific Crest Trailhead.  The last half mile or so is unpaved dirt road.
Hazards of Note:   Extremely rocky trail for the first few miles toward the Bayview trail junction.  The last 15 miles are in forested area with limited sightlines. Crowd Factor:   Moderate to Minimal.  The first mile to Eagle Lake is very popular and potentially crowded, but after that the trail to the Velma Lakes will have people but not as many.  After turning north onto the PCT at Middle Velma Lake the number of people you encounter will be minimal.
General Notes:
From the parking area at the Eagle Falls trailhead, fill out a wilderness permit at the kiosk and attach the take-along section of your permit to your backpack.  The trail heads off immediately up a short rise, and then you will come to the junction of Eagle Falls to the left, and the Eagle Falls loop to the right.  Stay to your left, cross the bridge over the falls (a trickle in the late summer) and head up the rocky stairs into Desolation Wilderness.  Almost a mile ahead will be a junction sign, pointing to Eagle Lake to the right and the Velma Lakes to the left.  A brief detour to Eagle Lake of less than 300 feet is well worth the time due to the wonderful setting for the lake with granite rises all around.
Heading up to the Velmas from the junction the trail just continues to climb a total of about 1600' until it reaches a junction with the Bayview Trail.  This is the most difficult section of the entire day, and in warm weather lots of water will be required to replace what is being constantly burned off during the climb.  At the Bayview Trail junction turn right, and head toward the Velma Lakes.  Pass by another junction for Dick's Pass and Dick's Lake heading off to the left.  You will then pass by an unnamed smaller lake on the left side of the trailand after about 4 1/2 miles you will reach Middle Velma Lake off to your right.  There are trees here blocking the near shoreline of this lake, and it is worth taking a minute out of the trip to head down and check out the great lake and the many islands scattered around within it.
At just below 5 miles in on the trail, you will come to a junction for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT.)  Turn right, and head on into a forested part of the trail which will dominate most of the rest of your trek along this section.
Initially the trail will skirt along the westernmost edge of Middle Velma lake, and then begin a small climb along the way until you reach the junction of the Phipps Pass Trail which heads on up to the right.  Continue on the PCT, and back into the forested section of the trail.  Every so often there is a teaser as to the views across to the west of the granite mountains that top off with Red, Silver, McConnell and Tell's Peaks, but from there trail there is never much of a view that isn't just glimpses through the trees.
Five miles ahead the trees will clear enough to spy a little bit of Rockbound Lake to the northwest, and this was a good spot to stop and enjoy some food and a rest from the fairly non-changing look of this long section of trail running north and south.  
The next dependable source of water past Middle Velma Lake is Richardson Lake, which is approximately 6 1/2 miles from the end of this segment and a mile past the northern boundary of Desolation Wilderness.  The LudLow hut can be found on the northeast side of the lake, and continuing on past this you will soon cross the infamous Rubicon Jeep trail.  At this point it is past the technical area and mostly just a dirt road.  
The last section of trail to Barker Pass is just like the previous segment of the PCT, until with about a mile left you will see Barker Peak and the trail will generally head toward it and a little bit to the east.  When you finally reach Blackwood Canyon Road just next to the finishing parking area, cell service magically is available, but disappears again as soon as you start the long drive back down the canyon.
The information kiosk at the start of the hike which has the Desolation Wilderness permits needed less than a mile from the starting point. Kiosk at the start
The first of many junctions on this route.  Do not take the loop trail unless you want to extend the trip to be even longer.
Falls loop junction 
Along the early granite steps which lead up a significant way is the entrance into Desolation Wilderness. Into Desolation 
Be sure to look off to the east for views early on of Lake Tahoe, because once you head toward the Velma Lakes area, you will not see this lake for the rest of the segment. Emerald Bay
A quick diversion to Eagle Lake is well worth the time, to check out the location as well as prepare for a lot more significant uphill ahead. Eagle Lake junction 
Morning sun hitting the granite at the far end of Eagle Lake. Morning at Eagle Lake
This section of trail sports some interesting design with the trail cut right through the sloping granite hill. Interesting trail
The view of Middle Velma Lake and Phipps Peak in the distance to the north. Middle Velma Lake
One of the many junctions along the section of PCT that is followed from Middle Velma Lake all the way to the end at Barker Pass. PCT junction 
Middle Velma's western end has some very pleasant areas with lots of color. Middle Velma Middle Velma
The junction to Phipps Pass and Meeks Bay.  This is a great side trip with lots of lakes along the trail, but not part of the TRT. More junctions
Surprisingly, this is what most of the rest of the trail looks like all along the PCT to Barker Pass.  There are a few glimpses of the mountains to the west, but not very often. Most of the trail 
This was the view at one spot that I stopped for lunch, as the actual sight of the peaks across the way (Red, Silver, McConnell and Tells) are amazingly rare. Mt. McConnell
Rockbound Lake to the northwest.  There is a trail into Desolation that passes by this lake on the way south to Mosquito Pass, but it is one of the longest access points into Desolation Wilderness and not nearly as well-travelled as other areas. Rockbound Lake 
The boundary marker while leaving the north end of Desolation Wilderness on this section. North end of Desolation
The first look at the pleasant sight of Richardson Lake after a long dry stretch of trail. First look at lake 
Looking south at Richardson Lake from the northern shore. Richardson Lake
Yours truly at the north shore of the lake near a dam with a section of paved road running along it. Yours truly
At the point where the trail crosses the infamous, but in this section fairly banal Rubicon Jeep Trail. Crossing Rubicon Jeep trail
It was nice at one point nearly 18 miles into today's trip where there were clear views south toward Tell's Peak. View toward Tells
To our great enjoyment about a mile and a half from the end was a spring-fed stream across the trail which offered a couple nice bottles full of nice, cool filtered water. Don at the water
Nearing the home stretch of this segment, the landmark of Barker Peak beckoned us on the last mile. Barker Peak 
Finally reaching the road, cell service and a nice look toward Ellis Peak in the distance was the reward for finishing up the long stretch on the day. Reaching Blackwood Canyon 
There was a lot of activity near the end of the day at this trailhead, but as much as for people trekking the northern section as the one we had just completed. Barker Pass 
GPX track for the day, starting at Emerald Bay in the lower left and heading up the Pacific Crest Trail for the majority of the mileage. GPS Track of the hike