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Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

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Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby Pietro257 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:58 pm

I'm hoping someone can give me advice for a trip I would like to take in the Desolation Wilderness from Lake Tahoe to Loon Lake. Loon Lake is about 20 miles as the crow flies west of Meeks Bay. Why Loon Lake? Because my brother-in-law, a gourmet cook, has promised me that if my friends and I end a trip at Loon Lake, his favorite fishing hole, he will put on a feast for us that we will never forget.

I would like to take him up on is offer but I've never hiked the Desolation Wilderness. My group are experienced backpackers. We usually go to the Eastern Sierra. We have done portions of the Roper Route together and are well-versed in cross-country hiking. We don't want to do any serious rockclimbing, however.

I would like to do this trip in 3 to 4 nights, with the last night (the 4th or 5th night) in Loon Lake. It seems like this would require a combination of cross-country and trails. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.



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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby paul » Sat Jan 29, 2011 8:28 pm

There are a bunch of ways to go. And several possible starting points. You could start at Meeks bay, but that's probably the least interesting route from there. You could start at the Mt. Tallac trailhead, or at Fallen leaf/Glen Alpine, or at Echo Lakes. Or there are a couple of other westside trailheads, like Wrights Lake. Starting from there would make getting back to your car at the end of the trip simpler. If you start from Wrights lake, go up to Rockbound pass and over, there's a really nice little bowl on the west side of the pass with Doris Lake. Very nice. Then head south to Mosquito pass and Lake Aloha, Heathr, susie, gilmore lakes; over dicks pass to dicks lake, Fontanillis, and the Velmas, then west to the rockbound valley and down it along the Rubicon to Rubicon Reservoir, Rockbound Lake, Deer Island lake and Loon Lake. Very pretty tour. For some off-trail stuff, pick out a route from Wrights lake to the top of Pyramid Peak, then down to the west side of Lake aloha by way of Pyramid or Waca Lakes - nice are lightly visited. then mostly the way I already described, or go up dicks peak and down from there cross-country to Fontanillis and from there to rockbound Valley. I once went partly cross-country to Loon lake from the rockbound valley, but I wouldn't recommend it- too brushy around there. The lakes on the west side of the rockbound valley, like Doris, Lois, Lake Schmiddell, 4-Q lakes, Leland lakes, and so on, are all nice little lakes and mostly don't see a lot of use. Hope this helps - it's a beautiful area, anywhere you go will be nice.
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby rlown » Sat Jan 29, 2011 9:57 pm

Pietro257 wrote:Why Loon Lake? Because my brother-in-law, a gourmet cook, has promised me that if my friends and I end a trip at Loon Lake, his favorite fishing hole, he will put on a feast for us that we will never forget.


You never mention if you intend to fish along the way. That might guide your trip differently. As Paul said, there are lots of routes, but you need to be more specific in your quest. Is there a specific point you really want to start from?

And what is your Loon lake exit day, because I know about 200 people on this forum that would love a gourmet meal :D
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby Pietro257 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:39 am

Paul, thanks for the detailed advice. I'm going to get some good topo maps and study the routes you suggest.

To answer the other questions, I don't necessarily have to start a Meeks Bay. Any place on the west side of Lake Tahoe would be fine.

For transportation, I had the idea of taking the California Zephyr (a train - beautiful ride) from San Francisco, where I live, to Truckee, and paying someone to drive us from there to the trailhead, wherever it may be. Then in Loon Lake I'd get my brother-in-law and other volunteers to pick us up and bring us back to SF.

As for fishing, two members of our party are fishermen, and they would love the opportunity to fish along the way. Mostly we hike in the Alpine regions of the Sierra, where the fishing isn't very good.

My brother-in-law's gourmet meals really are excellent, which makes Loon Lake a worthy goal.
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby windknot » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:49 am

The nice thing about Desolation is that there are several trails in sensible places, so there are several different ways to get to Loon Lake from just about anywhere you want to start (and this doesn't even require any cross-country travel). I guess what route you take depends more on what kind of scenery you want to see, how much cross-country (if any) you want to do, how many miles you want to travel per day, and what kind of fishing you want to find along the way. Robert has good advice covering the major trailheads you can use as starting points as well as many of the routes you can take.

Welcome to the board, by the way!

Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:58 pm

As noted above you have many options and the main options do not require cross country travel. All of the options feature good fishing with a variety of types of fish and types of fishing opportunities (ie some places are high percentage shots with quantity, some places have quality--ie big fish but harder to catch). If you are familiar with the east side Sierra you will find the terrain less rugged by comparison, although still quite scenic, and the trail distances and elevation gain for almost anything you do in Desolation will be milder on average than many of the hikes you would do on the east side. You will see this when you look at topo maps of the area in detail. No matter what you do you will have an enjoyable trip.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby balzaccom » Sun Jan 30, 2011 8:35 pm

I'll also point out that permits for Desolation Wilderness can be a bit of a problem...the system can't really keep up with the demand. So it's a good idea to have more than one possible route. That way you can adapt to the permits that are available.
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby jimbobjoebob » Sun Jan 30, 2011 8:50 pm

Hi.

I'll be hiking with Pietro, who began this post. As he mentioned, we've done most of our trekking on the eastern side of the Sierras, with the last few years a quest to find off-trail routes (as he said, we followed part of the "Roper" route). On the eastern side, we manage to get well above the tree line, which really helps as your marking your route, and we never really needed a GPS.

I've never gone cross-country on the western side, nor in the Desolation Wilderness, but would love to find a good route on this Loon Lake trip. Can we do it without GPS, or would we be well down below the tree line most of the time?

Also, my old bones aren't what they used to be, so we're not into climbing much any more... ;-)

Thanks,

JimBob
"he who loathes talus"
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby rlown » Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:09 pm

The area you both speak of is covered in routes. Might I suggest that you put forth what you think you want to do, route-wise, and then get the feedback? We know some of you want fish, and that you want to start somewhere and end at Loon Lk. There will be well designated trails (roads in some cases), so, If you're map capable, or choose a GPS, or compass, you'd be fine.

We could lay out a trail for you, but that should be half the fun you should be experiencing at this point..

PS: you miss the fun of talus, fishing-wise :D
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby Pietro257 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:52 pm

Thanks everyone for the advice given thus far. About the trip from Lake Tahoe to Loon Lake, it looks like all routes converge at Camper Flat and head northwest through Rockbound Valley to Loon Lake. So all these routes start at different trailheads but go through Camper Flat to Loon Lake.

Can you compare the relative merits of these trips using these criteria: 1) Fewer people around 2) Wear and tear on knees 3) Good fishing 4) Good views (especially of Lake Tahoe) 5) Fewer mosquitoes. I kind of like the idea of spending a night in South Lake Tahoe before hitting the trail, which makes the first three routes more attractive because they start closer to Tahoe, but if one of the other routes is great, we’ll take it.

Route #1: (19 miles) Emerald Bay – Eagle Lake -- Middle Velma Lake – Camper Flat – Rubicon Reservoir – Rockbound Lake – Spider Lake – Loon Lake

Route #2: (23 miles) Fallen Leaf Lake -- Mt. Tallac -- Gilmore Lake – Dick’s Pass – Dick’s Lake – Middle Velma Lake – Camper Flat – Rubicon Reservoir – Rockbound Lake – Spider Lake – Loon Lake

Route #3: (28 miles) Lower Echo Lake – Haypress Meadows – Lake Aloha – Mosquito Pass – Jack’s Meadow – China Flat – Camper Flat -- Rubicon Reservoir – Rockbound Lake – Spider Lake – Loon Lake

Route #4: (28 miles) Sayles Flat– Haypress Meadows – Lake Aloha – Mosquito Pass – Jack’s Meadow – China Flat – Camper Flat -- Rubicon Reservoir – Rockbound Lake – Spider Lake – Loon Lake

Route #5: (23) Wright’s Lake – Willow Flat – Lake Lois – Lake Schmidell – Camper Flat -- Rubicon Reservoir – Rockbound Lake – Spider Lake – Loon Lake

Thanks in advance for weighing these options.
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:21 pm

When are you going? June, July etc??? You may have said, but how many days? Is each designated spot in your lists a proposed campsite?
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Re: Trip advice please: Lake Tahoe westward to Loon Lake

Postby Pietro257 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:47 pm

We want to go in July or August. No, the place names on the route lists are not camping spots, just route descriptions. We would like to go for three or four nights.
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