Eagle Falls & Eagle Lake Loop in the Desolation Wilderness

I am constantly overwhelmed by the beauty in California, and my time in Tahoe was no exception. By far Eagle Lake was the most beautiful thing I saw in Tahoe. This is saying a lot since I saw Sierra Buttes and Sardine Lakes on my trip as well. Believe me, if you are in this area, you want to spend the time hiking up to Eagle Lake. While you’re at it, you might as well go down to Emerald Bay as well.

Eagle Lake Loop 6


  • 3-4 miles round trip
  • 400 feet of elevation
  • $5 to park

Eagle Lake Loop 17

Make sure to get to the parking lot early, I would suggest before 9 AM, as it fills up fast. After parking in the lot for Emerald Falls, consider hiking down to the lower falls which are across the street. These falls can be seen from the Emerald Bay parking area as well if you park there as seen in the below photo.

Eagle Lake Loop 14

They are very easy to access and provide a fantastic vista of the waterfall with Emerald Bay behind it.

Eagle Lake Loop 15

This beautiful spot could be a post in and of itself, but I digress, back to the Eagle Lake Loop.

Eagle Lake Loop 16

Eagle Falls

The trail starts by heading up on a path of stone stairs cut right out of the rock wall itself.

Eagle Lake Loop 19

About a half mile in you will see Eagle Falls, and if you are not in the mood for a full hike, you can turn around. I would highly suggest that you keep going though.

Eagle Lake Loop 8

Eagle Lake

After crossing over the falls, the trail continues up through a forested area before dumping you out on a large granite rock which has amazing views of the surrounding mountains. 

Eagle Lake Loop 20

After this, you will enter the Desolation Wilderness, which you can get a permit for near the parking lot.

Eagle Lake Loop 21

The trail continues uphill, but each time there is a break in the trees you will see the massive mountains towering around you, it is a pretty awe-inspiring area. 

Eagle Lake Loop 9

I found myself taking a lot of photos here as there was just so much to see as you hiked up. How can you not want to snap the below photo?

Eagle Lake Loop 7

About 2 miles in you will see the sign to continue right for Eagle Lake and should see the lake in front of you. 

Eagle Lake Loop 2

Many people chose to stop here and sit by the lake, but I would suggest taking the trail to the left of the lake until it ends at an extensive collection of fallen rocks. It’s about a quarter mile to the rocks.

Eagle Lake Loop 4

When you get here, you will realize why I suggested it. The view that you see is one that is beyond awe-inspiring. The reflection of the lake with the mountain in the distance will take your breath away.

Eagle Lake Loop 5

This is also a great place to find a rock and just relax. We brought food and sat on the rocks admiring the view and soaking it all in.

Eagle Lake Loop 13

I have been to a lot of places in California, but the pictures I took at Eagle Lake are some of my favorites pictures I have ever taken, and they required almost no editing either.

Eagle Lake Loop 3

After you are done relaxing you will head back the way you came for an easy downhill hike.

Eagle Lake Loop 10

I hope that you enjoyed this hike as much as I did and I would love to hear your comments below. Be sure to spend some time checking out Emerald Bay State Park while you are there as it is just a half mile down the road and an equally fantastic place. 

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  • Cecilia

    I am so happy that I found your blog. I am from SoCal and I recently got interested in traveling. I have been to a few places in California, but I want to see a lot more. Your blog will definitely help me discover some beautiful parts of California that I most likely would have never seen.

    • Thanks for the comment I hope it helps you spend some time exploring California!

  • Angel and Michelle

    Hi Josh,
    It’s funny, I actually spent about 3 hours researching about Desolation Wilderness close to Lake Tahoe this morning, and right after I’m done I found your blog with more explanatory pictures than anywhere else =]. I’m planning to go backpacking to the Desolation Wilderness next weekend. Do they have maps by the Trail Head or would you recommend bringing my own map? Do you have any extra tips that you think might help?

    Thanks in advance!

    • I just did a day hike there and I don’t remember seeing a very detailed map, however, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one I just may have missed it. I would always say it is better to bring your own map though just so you are prepared. Let me know how the trip goes as I would love to spend more time in that area!

      • Angel and Michelle

        Hey thanks for the fast response! yeah, I’ll be writing about it on my blog. I’m pretty sure it’ll be awesome. May be a little cold, but that’s ok.

        • Awesome can’t wait to read it!

  • JCF

    Hiking there tomorrow! Yours is definitely the most picturesque re this trail. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, hope you had fun on the trail!

      • JCF

        It was great, but Oy Vey, the PARKING was a mess! On a Thursday! :-0

        I’m taking my church hiking group back there at the end of September (looking forward to see the aspen turn!), hopefully it won’t be so crowded then…

        • haha yea the parking is always bad there, the earlier the better! That is a fun group hike for sure

  • Stacey Elling Stavrianoudakis

    Going with my BFF’s in October. Can’t wait. Thanks for all the info and gorgeous pictures!!

    • No problem, it is a beautiful spot. Let me know what you think about it!

  • Connor Lehner

    Planning on doing this hike next weekend and I was curious what is the best place to camp at?

    • Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, I have not camped up there so I am not sure what the best spot would be for that.