• Gabriella Viola

Hiking to Maggie's Peak in South Lake Tahoe

Updated: Apr 19


hiking to maggies peak in south lake tahoe

Maggie's Peak has become one of my favorite hikes in Lake Tahoe. It features one of the best vantage points of Emerald Bay, an alpine lake, jaw-dropping views of Lake Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness, and it's quite the workout, which always feels rewarding at the end of a hike 💪.


Here's the information on the Maggie's Peak hike in South Lake Tahoe, California.


* When visiting Lake Tahoe, help keep it beautiful by practicing the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.

 

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MAGGIE'S PEAK HIKE STATS

  • Distance: 4.1 miles out-and-back.

  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet (roughly).

  • Location: South Lake Tahoe, California.

  • Trail: Bayview Trailhead.

  • Length of Time: 4 hours (roughly).

  • When to Go: Mid-June through September.

  • Difficulty: Rated as difficult by Alltrails but, I would rate it as moderate.


maggies peak hike in lake tahoe

 

GETTING TO THE TRAILHEAD


Maggie's Peak is accessible via the Bayview Trail, which you'll find in the back of Bayview Campground. Bayview Campground is right across the street from Inspiration Point on HWY 89. This area is one of the busiest sections of Lake Tahoe, so I recommend getting there early to make sure you get a parking spot. You can park along HWY 89 for free or inside the campground, which has a day-use fee.


Once at the trailhead, take a right towards Desolation Wilderness.



A day permit is required when hiking in Desolation Wilderness. Normally you can fill out a free permit slip at the trailhead. However, they are waving the day permit requirements for the 2021 season due to Covid. Overnight permits are still required and can be obtained at recreation.gov.



 

THE TRAIL


I like into divided the Maggie's Peak hike into 5 sections:

-Emerald Bay Overlook

-Granite Lake

-The Switchbacks

-The Saddle

-Maggie's Peak



TRAILHEAD TO EMERALD BAY OVERLOOK:


The trail starts on an incline and pretty much stays that way for the entire hike. But it's worth it, and it doesn't take long to reach the first rewarding viewpoint. At about half a mile into the trail, you will arrive at a spectacular overlook of Emerald Bay. This could be a hike in itself if you're short on time or not up for hiking all the way to the peak.


The overlook is a pretty epic spot to grab some photos before continuing towards Granite Lake.


Emerald Bay from the Bayview Trail in Lake Tahoe
Great views of Emerald Bay from the Bayview Trail
Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe

I love taking photos at this spot at the start of the hike and on the way back!


Emerald Bay from the bayview trail in lake tahoe
 

GRANITE LAKE:


At about 1 mile past the Emerald Bay viewpoint, you'll arrive at Granite Lake. The lake is a great spot to take a break and eat lunch or a snack before making your way up the switchbacks. If you go early in the morning or on a day with low wind, you'll catch some beautiful reflections on the lake.


Granite Lake in Lake Tahoe

Granite Lake in Desolation Wilderness
Granite Lake in Desolation Wilderness
 

THE SWITCHBACKS:


The switchback portion of the Maggie's Peak hike is probably everyone's least favorite part of the trail. But it's a great workout, and you'll get to enjoy lovely views that get better and better with each switchback. There are plenty of shaded areas to stop and take a breather if you need it. Which I usually do at least a couple of times.


maggies peak trail in lake tahoe

maggies peak trail in lake tahoe

maggies peak trail in lake tahoe
 

MAGGIE'S SADDLE:


Once you've completed the switchbacks, you'll come to the portion of the trail known as Maggie's Saddle. This section of the hike can best be described as a field of giant boulders. There are wide-open views of Desolation Wilderness on one side of the saddle and views of Lake Tahoe and several alpine lakes from the other side of the saddle.


The first couple of times doing this hike, I thought Maggies Saddle was Maggie's Peak! I didn't know you could hike even further to even better views because the last part of the trail is hard to spot- if you don't know where to look...


Desolation Wilderness from Maggies Peak in Lake Tahoe

Desolation Wilderness from Maggies Peak in Lake Tahoe
 

REACHING THE PEAK


At the end of the switchbacks, you can explore Maggie's Saddle or, you can veer left and head directly up to Maggie's Peak. As mentioned above, the trail to the top of Maggie's Peak is hard to spot. I was able to find several narrow paths that all lead to the top of the peak. Taking one of these trails is the shortest and most direct way to Maggie's Peak.


There is also a longer trail that leads you further into Desolation Wilderness before wrapping up and around to the peak.


 Emerald Bay, Granite Lake, and Cascade Lake from Maggie's Peak in Lake Tahoe
Emerald Bay, Granite Lake, and Cascade Lake from Maggie's Peak
Views from Maggies Peak Hike in Lake Tahoe

Views from Maggies Peak Hike in Lake Tahoe

When you reach Maggie's Peak, your efforts will be rewarded with spectacular, unobstructed views of Lake Tahoe, Granite Lake, and Cascade Lake. You can also see Fallen Leaf Lake to the south and what seems like endless little lakes in Desolation Wilderness.


Make sure you walk around a bit, as there are a few different spots at the top of the peak where you can take in the 360-degree views.


Views of Eagle Lake in Desolation Wilderness from Maggie's Peak
Views of Eagle Lake in Desolation Wilderness from Maggie's Peak
 

I hope you enjoyed this guide to hiking Maggie's Peak in Lake Tahoe! Let me know what your favorite hike in Lake Tahoe is in the comments! Also, make sure to subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss the latest blog posts, videos, and announcements!


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You Might Also Enjoy:


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15 things to do in South Lake Tahoe: The Ultimate Outdoor Guide!



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About Gabriella Viola

ABOUT

Gabriella Viola is a photographer and outdoor enthusiast currently living in Lake Tahoe, California. 

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