Tahoma, California

Hike to Half Moon Lake in Desolation Wilderness

11 Miles Total - 1600 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Jake Young

This pristine alpine lake in Desolation Wilderness is flanked by the dramatic backdrop of Jack's and Dick's Peak. This lake sees much less traffic than the other lakes in the region.

This hike starts at the Glen Alpine Trailhead near Fallen Leaf Lake. Because Desolation is a wilderness area, you are required to fill out a day-use permit which can be found at the trailhead. If you are backpacking make sure to obtain an overnight permit either online or at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.

After you fill out your permit, start heading up the gravel road behind the gate. This road takes you passed old summer homes and roughly follows the Glen Alpine Creek. Along the way, you can also see Modjeska Falls. The road eventually becomes a single track and starts climbing through the glacially carved granite that Desolation is famous for.

After about two miles you will reach the intersection with the Grass Lake trail. Stay to the right to keep climbing up the Glen Alpine Trail.

The trail keeps meandering through forest for another 1.6 miles until it reaches another intersection. Keep right to stay on the correct path.

Eventually the trail crosses the PCT and there will be a sign indicating the correct direction towards Half Moon Lake. This portion of the trail then climbs another 200 feet ending at the alpine lake.

If you are looking to camp, the adjacent Alta Morris lake is a perfect spot to get away from the main trail.

To get back, simply take the same trail back to the Glen Alpine Trailhead.

Read More

Tags

Chillin
Camping
Fishing
Photography
Running
Backpacking
Hiking
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Pretty Little Lake

We backpacked into this little lake and it was so worth it! It's pretty much uphill on the way in, so it's not an easy hike. Leave early since the Desolation has a lot of open trail so it gets warm. You follow a pretty stream almost the entire way with beautiful waterfalls. We camped at Half Moon Lake and there was no one else there! We sat on the rocks around the lake and watched our dogs frolick in the water. We had a scout coyote that howled for about 30 minutes as dusk then came back with a friend in the morning. We listened to a waterfall in the distance as we fell asleep If you hike with dogs, I would suggest booties. My dogs have tough feet since we hike the granite rocks at Folsom Lake several times a week, but their feet took at beating on this hike. Preparation is key, but so worth it!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

South Lake Tahoe, California

Outsite Heavenly

From $63/night

South Lake Tahoe, California

Fallen Leaf Campground

South Lake Tahoe, California

Hope Valley

Kyburz, California

Wrights Lake

Nearby Adventures

Backpack to Susie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

7.6 Miles Round Trip - 2400 ft gain

Backpack to Gilmore Lake in Desolation Wilderness

8 Miles Round Trip - 1901 ft gain

Hike or Backpack to Clyde Lake

14.8 Miles Round Trip - 2847 ft gain

Tours

Win a Vacation Getaway to Santa Cruz!

Experience all Santa Cruz County has to offer this season! Enter to win a customized “Let’s Cruz” vacation getaway and choose from an array of activities to enhance your visit. 

Grand prize includes a 2-night stay at a three-bedroom condo at Pajaro Dunes Resort, a $150 “Capitola Dine & Shop Experience” gift certificate in Capitola Village, a Craftbar Experience at Annieglass Studios for four guests, four tickets to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and four tickets to Roaring Camp Railroads.

Customize your “Let’s Cruz” vacation package entry by selecting four activities below to include outdoor adventure, dining, beer and wine tasting, family fun, spa treatments, and relaxation.