Historic Gilmore Springs
Suzie Lake
Snow drift we had to cross along the way up to Heather Lake
Heather Lake
Small waterfall along the way to Lake Aloha
Lake Aloha
As you can see, the waters here at Lake Aloha are crystal clear
Flowers along the shore of Lake Aloha
Lake Aloha

Location: Desolation Wilderness - Tahoe, CA
Distance: 11.8 miles round trip (7 hours)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: Approximately 2125 feet

If ever there was a place that I really wanted to hike to, it was to this lake. Every time I pulled out my Tahoe map, there is stood... large as anything, dotted with islands, a long way from anything and no way to get there except for on foot. There are several ways to reach Aloha Lake but the route my wife and I chose to go starts at Lilly Lake. This route was chosen not because it would be the easiest or fastest way (and it's not) but because it's maybe the prettiest way to go.

How to Get There

From South Lake Tahoe, take highway 89 north past Camp Richardson. Make a left turn onto Fallen Leaf Lake Road and follow it all the way to the back side of the lake. There you will eventually see a sign to your left indicating Lilly Lake. Take this road and follow it to the end where you will find ample parking, pit toilets, a trail map and wilderness permits (be sure to fill out one of these permits before you head out).

There are actually two ways to reach Lake Aloha from Lilly Lake but we decided to start from the trail head at the end of the parking lot. According to the map, this route is slightly longer of the two (about a 6 mile hike one way) but along the way you will get to see historic Gilmore Springs as well as the beautiful Suzie and Heather Lakes. This trail sees an elevation gain of about 1,600 feet and is rated "strenuous" or "difficult". The toughest section of this trail is from the trail head up to Suzie Lake as it is uphill all the way with loose golf ball to baseball size rocks under foot. In other words, watch your step or else you will be hobbling back home with a sprang ankle or worse. There are some sections where stone steps have been erected but these are BIG steps so again, take your time here especially if you are carrying a heavy pack. Also, just before you reach Suzie Lake, there will be a set of mosquito infested ponds you will need to pass. In my experience, DEET is the only thing that works to stave off these pests so be sure to spray yourself head to toe, cloths and all. These mosquitoes will bit right through your socks and cloths if you don' t.... trust me on this one. I have heard that Lake Aloha actually dries up quite a bit by the end of August but I have also heard that the mosquito problems isn't nearly as bad by then too.

Hiking this trail in the Summer time can be quite hot and harsh so make sure to come prepared. First and most importantly, I would highly recommend bringing an ample amount of water and a water purification system cause you will need it. Second, be sure to pack sun screen a hat and some kind of wind protection. The weather can change from hot and dry to rain and windy at a moments notice. When my wife and I were on this trail, we encountered several deep snow drifts that we had to cross... this was in the middle of July by the way.

In the future, we plan on doing this hike again (hopefully in the near future) but next time, we hope to park a second car at Echo Lake off of Hwy 50 first. That way, we can make this into a one way trip and take the water taxi that is available to cross Echo Lake at the end :)

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Click Here to see other photos from our trip

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