Granite Lake Hike

The Bayview Trailhead at Emerald Bay is the access point to dozens of awesome trails, lakes, peaks, and campsites.  Granite Lake is the first destination along this trail, at one mile up from the trailhead.

  • 500MilesTrailhead: Bayview Campground, across from Inspiration Point, Emerald Bay, CA89. – Open in Google Maps.
  • Length: 2.3 miles round trip; 1-2 hours.
  • Difficulty: Moderate…the trail climbs steadily over 800′ in one mile.
  • Usage: Hikers, dogs.  Free day-use permits are available at the trailhead.
  • Best Time for Photography: You’ll be presented with some amazing views of Emerald Bay in the beginning of the hike, and the best light is usually during the Golden Hours.
  • Are Drones Allowed: No, lies within Desolation Wilderness.
  • Trail Info Current: Sep 4, 2016.
  • Further Reading: 500 Miles of South Lake Tahoe Hikes
  • Go back to Lake Tahoe Hikes map
granite lake

Plots created using Gaia GPS

Read my review on Gaia GPS for information about this awesome hiking app.

Granite Lake Hike Narrative

The Bayview Trailhead is the starting point for many great destinations within Desolation Wilderness – my favorites probably being Velma Lakes and Cascade Falls.

This trailhead and parking lot do fill up quickly during the summer months – you’ll probably have to park on the side of Highway 89 and walk to the trailhead if you don’t get there early enough.  Walk through the campground to the end of the parking lot and you’ll see the kiosk for the trailhead.  You must fill out a day use permit (free) since you’ll quickly enter Desolation Wilderness.

The beginning of the trail is somewhat shaded, and steep.  You’ll ascend some switchbacks after crossing into Wilderness boundary and quickly be rewarded for your climb with some amazing views of Emerald Bay.  Take a minute to catch your breath and enjoy the views!

emerald bay

granite lake hike

The trail from here on out is more or less straight along a creek, but still climbing and in some shade.  You’ll soon come over a hill with views of Maggies Peaks above you and Granite Lake right in front of you.  Make your way to the lake, enjoy your lunch, and take a dip.  From here continue on up further into Desolation Wilderness, or head back to the car if that’s all you have time for!

granite lake

Granite Lake looking west towards Maggies Peaks

Granite Lake looking east

Tips for the Granite Lake Hike

  • Don’t let the short distance fool you – it’s steep, and can get hot and dusty in the summer.  Bring plenty of water!
  • To avoid some of the aforementioned problems, and to get parking, and to get some great photos – it’s best to do this hike either really early in the morning or start about an hour prior to sunset (and bring a headlamp).


Corrections, suggestions, or questions?  Please leave a comment below!

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