Hiking Maggie’s Peak, South Lake Tahoe
Another fun weekend has come to a close and another peak is in the bag, Maggie’s South Peak. I was hoping to get two peaks this past week, but weather and school had different plans for me. This still brings me to 11 peaks out of my goal for 15 this year. Only four more to go and I really hope that I can squeeze them in before the mountains are covered with snow. The weather is starting to turn in Lake Tahoe and it feels like we skipped completely over Fall. On my runs last week, the aspens went from a little color to all of the leaves being knocked off in a matter of days. What is up with that? I am sure it had something to do with all the rain we got this last week, but come on Mother Nature. Can’t we enjoy Fall for just a little bit?
Speaking of interesting weather, yesterday was no different. Jenn and I made a pact earlier in the week that we would get a peak yesterday, rain or shine. Well, it was a little bit of both, but still an awesome adventure. We got a little bit of a late start (I guess that’s what happens with late nights, oops), and left the North Shore for Emerald Bay at around 1:30. The trailhead is located at the far end of the Bayview Campground near Emerald Bay, across from Inspiration Point. If you have never been to Inspiration Point, I highly encourage you to stop and check it out. Get inspired!
Before we get to the part about the trail, you should know some fun history about Maggie’s Peaks. There are two peaks, North and South, with the South one being 200′ higher. Legend has it that there was a barmaid named Maggie in the 1800’s that worked at the Tahoe Tavern. She was, um, really well endowed. To honor her curves, they named these two peaks after her. It is kind of ironic in that the peaks themselves are small in comparison to some of the other peaks around the area. Guess the really big peaks had already been named…
Anyways, we got to the trailhead around 2:45 after stoping for some tea and snacks. This hike is located in Desolation Wilderness, so you will need to stop at the trailhead and fill out a permit before entering. If you are planning on making it as an overnight hike, you will need to get an overnight permit, which you can get online or at your nearest Forest Service office. Once you have your permit in hand, you will take a right at the trailhead, following the sign toward Desolation Wilderness.
The trail here is pretty wide, straightforward, and also pretty steep. There are some great views of Emerald Bay after about 1/2 mile on the trail. There are two obvious spots in particular that offer sweeping views. Make sure to stop and take it all in.
From here, it mellows out a bit and you will find yourself at Granite Lake in about another 1/2 mile, which is beautiful.
Have fun at the lake and then look for the switchbacks to the right. It feels like you are going away from the peak, but you will soon be going South toward Maggie’s. Keep up the switchbacks and you will be at the saddle (or Maggies cleavage) in another 1/2 mile. Once you are at the top of the saddle, look for the very small single track trail to the left (South). From here, you are about 500′ vertical feet to the summit and a little shy of another 1/2 mile. This part is seriously like a stair master. Follow the cairns to the top, and you are there! You could alternatively go to the North Peak, but let’s be honest. You want to go to the South peak. The North peak is 200′ lower. It’s all about that high peak!
All-in-all, once you reach Maggie’s South Peak, you have hiked about 2 miles and 1,900′ vertical feet. Go to the left when you reach the summit and you will be rewarded with some awesome views of Tahoe. It isn’t quite as amazing as Tallac, but still breathtaking. Enjoy the view and have a beer. You earned it!
The total round trip hike, including spending about 45 minutes at the summit, took us almost exactly 3 hours total. We also putzed around at Granite Lake for a while and stopped along the way to check out the views. Plan on about 2-4 hours for this peak, depending on how fast you are and how long you want to stay at the top. Granite Lake is also a little gem and if it was a warmer day, we definitely would have spent some time going for a dip.
Maggie’s Peak South – 8,699′
- Total Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
- Total Elevation Gain: 1,900′
- Pros: Short hike with beautiful views of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, Granite Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake, and Cascade Lake.
- Cons: The trail is pretty steep in some spots. Be ready for a butt burner.