Maggie’s Peaks has been on my hiking list for months now. I had planned to tackle this incredible South Lake Tahoe hike over the summer, but wildfires made this area inaccessible until recently. In October when a large winter storm came in, I thought hiking Maggie’s Peaks would be off the table until spring. But a warm and dry November melted out most of the snow and gave my husband and me another opportunity to check out this trail. My goodness, it was worth the wait.
The trail is a bit of a lung burner if you’re not in hiking shape or if you aren’t used to the elevation. In total, you’ll cover over 1,800 feet of vertical during the hike. However, there are several rewarding stopping points on the trail, giving you ample time to catch your breath along the way.
Since the campground where you would normally park is closed for the season starting in October, hikers park along Route 89 across from the scenic viewpoint, which adds about a half-mile to the trip. From your parking spot, you’ll walk through the campgrounds to a trailhead that immediately begins to ascend at a steady pace. About half a mile into the hike, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of Emerald Bay. If you find yourself out of breath, relax and take some photos and bask in the knowledge that you’re seeing Emerald Bay from a much less crowded vantage point than the viewing center that you can drive up to located across the street.
After you’re done taking in the view of Emerald Bay continue the hike for another half of a mile until you reach Granite Lake. Granite Lake is a beautiful alpine lake with numerous rocks to jump off of during the summer months. On the day we hiked this trail, it was too cold for Josh and me to jump in, but the dogs didn’t hesitate for a moment.
When you’re finished hanging out at Granite Lake, you’ll continue your climb up to Maggie’s Peaks. If you’re doing this hike in November of 2021, up until this point, the trail should be fairly clear of snow. However, within the next mile, you will run into enough snow and ice on the trail to need crampons or traction cleats. Josh and I both have a pair of Diamond Yak Tracks that we love. At about the 1.5-mile point, we put these on over our hiking boots and had no issues with traction for the remainder of the hike.
Once you’re set with traction on your hiking boots, continue your climb up to Maggie’s Peaks. Around the 1.8 mile point, you’ll reach the saddle where you can see deep into Desolation Wilderness.
After taking in the view of Desolation Wilderness, continue on just a little further to Maggie’s Peak South. The trail from the saddle to Maggie’s Peak South isn’t well defined and is technically off of the main trail, so I recommend navigating using the AllTrails app. The extra trek to Maggie’s Peak South is definitely worth it because it gives you one of the best views of South Lake Tahoe that I’ve ever seen. Once you arrive, relax on one of the many rocks at the peaks and soak in the wide, unencumbered view.
When you are finished exploring the peaks, return the way you came. Or, if you’re still feeling up for an adventure, you can continue on the main trail further and do a loop around Eagle Lake.
- Length: 4.5 Miles (**We recorded closer to 5 because we wandered around quite a bit)
- Elevation Gain: 1850 ft.
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Features: Alpine lake & incredible view
- Water on Trail: Yes
- Dogs Allowed? Yes