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Twin Bridges, California, United States

Maggies Peaks

Maggies Peaks overlook the rapturous blue waters of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, Granite Lake and Desolation Wilderness.

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 (5 votes, 1 review)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.0 miles / 4.8 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Overview: Maggies Peaks are gateway pillars to Desolation Wilderness overlooking Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe. There are two prominences: the north peak is 8,499' and south peak is 8,699'. The trail starts from Bayview trailhead and offers sweeping panoramic views on the way up to Granite Lake, and from the top of either peak. It is about 1,900 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead to the south peak. Allow 3 or more hours roundtrip.

At the trailhead, make a right at the sign to Desolation. The first mile delivers steep elevation gains and the best views of the bay in comparison to points along the road. From there, the trail flattens out briefly where Granite Lake is tucked away in alpine forest. The southern peak of Maggies Peaks stands about 1000 feet above.

After Granite Lake, the trail continues up a saddle in between Maggie’s two peaks. At the top, you can choose which peak you’d like to summit; we chose the southern peak because it was higher at 8,699 feet compared to the northern peak at 8,499. Either will offer an amazing view.

There is not a trail that goes to the top of either peak, but there is very little low lying vegetation, and it is easy to navigate. The trail begins to even out once you've reached the saddle, at this point, you'll head off trail up the slope to your left.

You will also be able to see deeper into Desolation Wilderness, Middle Velma Lake and Azure Lake to the west. We had an impressive balcony that granted us limitless views of the surrounding lakes and of Desolation Wilderness.

After returning to the trail, you can continue farther and take a right at the first fork. This will take you past Eagle Lake and Eagle Falls and terminates on the road just a short distance from the Bayview trailhead, or you can backtrack. Backtracking is a bit shorter and what we chose to do based on the amount of time we had.

The Bayview trailhead also offers campsites for $15 a night and is managed by the USDA. Emerald Bay State Park Campground offers more ammenities such as showers, sites with a view, potable water, and beach access for $35 a night.

Tips: All visitors to the Desolation Wilderness require a permit, including day hikers, which are provided at designated trailheads like Bayview. Backpackers should obtain a permit at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, $5 a night.

Points of Interest


Bayview Trailhead Campground

The Bayview trailhead offers campsites for $15 a night and is managed by the USDA. Toilets. No Showers. Potable water.

Junction Desolation and Cascade

This is the Bayview trailhead board. Go right toward Desolation.

View of Emerald Bay

After climbing about 400 feet in elevation, the first view of Emerald Bay from the trail rewards you with the satisfaction of being above all the tourists and drivers below on 89. There are large rocks to climb on for photo opportunities.

Granite Lake

In the summertime, people gather at Granite Lake to rest and sun themselves. A few dare to take a dip in the icey waters tucked away in the alpine forest. Beyond Granite Lake, there is a brief slog up Maggies Saddle. Sadly, many visitors don't venture beyond Granite, but a bit more effort will reveal infinitely more and a capstone view.

Maggies Peaks Saddle

Upon reaching this point, you'll be able to see deep into Desolation Wilderness. Take a detour off trail to either of Maggies Peaks. To reach the south peak, the higher of the two at 8,699', take a left off trail once you've plateaued on the saddle and continue climbing in elevation. There is little underlying vegetation or brush, so navigating this is relatively easy. Just head uphill.

Maggies Peaks South 8,699'

Although there's no formal trail leading to the top, the view is spectacular and one of the finest in Lake Tahoe. It is unobstructed by trees, and is the perfect perch for a well deserved snack. You can backtrack the way you came, or return to the trail and continue deeper into Desolation Wilderness. A nice loop would be to take a right at the next junction towards Eagle Lake and end at the Eagle Falls trailhead. The Eagle Falls trailhead is about 1 mile down 89 from Bayview trailhead.
Pictures in this guide taken by: RedTailTrails
Haven't done many hikes in Tahoe, but this one was very enjoyable. It's a moderate incline for most of the way, with some steeper parts as you reach the end. The trail was easy to follow except near Granite Lake, where there were a few trail-looking paths that weren't correct. The area at the bottom near bayview trailhead/campground was rather crowded (it was memorial day weekend), but we were able to park off the side of 89. Once we got to the trailhead, it was apparent most of the people parked were just there for the view off 89, not to hike. And from the portion of people that were hiking, the majority went to cascade lake instead of taking a right to go through Desolation Forest. It's definitely worth it to go through Desolation; fewer people and great views of emerald bay, and lake tahoe as a whole. It was a bit unnerving when we reached the end of the trail, there was a good amount of snow leftover from the recent snowfall, but we figured we made it that far, might as well keep climbing. And it was well worth it. The view from the top of Maggie's Peak is incredible, and the pictures don't quite do it justice. You can see nearly everything: North Lake Tahoe, Cave Rock, Heavenly/Stateline, Emerald Bay and great views of the some of the mountains toward the west, as well as the nearby lakes. I used the Everytrail iPhone app to make sure we were going the right way and staying on the trail and it worked great. If looking for a moderately challenging hike with great views and a great sense of accomplishment reaching the top, I highly recommend this one.
Visited on May 27, 2012

by bravestdawg on May 27, 2012

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