Backpacking (and Day-Hiking) Diaries: Mt. Tallac

This year I swore that I’d make a trip back to my favorite place on earth: Desolation Wilderness in Tahoe, CA.

So far, I’ve been there three times for three different backpacking trips, and have day-hiked the area countless times while staying at my favorite Lake Tahoe (car) campgrounds.

During our five day/five night backpacking trip this past August, we spent the morning of our 4th day taking on Mt. Tallac. I am quite pleased to say that I highly recommend it.

On top of Mt. Tallac

The hike itself is not that bad if you approach it from the PCT / the Gilmore Lake area (it definitely helps if you’re camped out there), but it looks like a helluva climb if you day hike it from the Mt. Tallac trailhead near Fallen Leaf Lake – there’s nothing but little jagged switchbacks on the dotted trail on the map.

Unlike hiking, say Dicks Peak, in Deso, the hike to Mt. Tallac is much more meadow-y. We saw a good amount of purple, vermillion, magenta, and yellow wildflowers despite the fact that we were hiking it in early August.


Meadow on the mountain

From Gilmore Lake, it’s about 2 miles to the very top of the mountain. For 90% of the hike, we saw no one on the trail. The only other living creatures around us were a few marmots scurrying to their homes in the ground below some old tree trunks.

That’s why were kinda surprised (Rob was straight shocked) to hear a bit of a commotion as we approached the top.

As we came up to the junction that meets the Mt. Tallac day-hike trail, we saw a whole girl’s soccer team from San Jose hanging out and waiting for the rest of their friends to make it up the mountain.


My companions, Mr. Rob Lowe and Jayglo – jumping for joy near the top of Mt. Tallac

Farther up the way we saw – pretty much – the most amaaaazing views of Lake Tahoe ever.


Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake

The view of Gilmore Lake, where we first started the hike that day, was also absolutely stunning. In the far distance, you could see the Crystal Range mountains, miles away.


The scene on the other side of the mountain was not too bad either.


Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, and Cascade Lake

The best thing about Mt. Tallac is that EVERYONE hikes it. No, I’m not saying that it’s an easy climb. It’s pretty strenuous by some standards (it sits at just below 10,000 ft.). But at the top, we saw families, kids, people of all ages – ethnicities – etc. – all the way up there. It was a pretty dope sight. We were all there, united by our shared desire to tackle this giant landmass for a day.

On the way down the mountain, the clouds started to get darker overhead. We soon realized that all of our gear was probably getting rained on AGAIN (we had gotten rained on just the night before while we were camped at Gilmore lake) since we had left it all out in the open to dry. As we sped down the mountain, we ran quickly past the other Mt. Tallac trekkers, lost the trail for a bit, and managed to find our way back to our camp so that we  could quickly drag all of our stuff under the trees for shelter (the trail can get a little vague at times – look for the cairns, as always!).

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One thought on “Backpacking (and Day-Hiking) Diaries: Mt. Tallac

  1. […] The next day, we set out our gear to dry and made the hike up to Mt. Tallac. I’ve already told the story, which you can read HERE. […]

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