Mary West: Exploring the Glen Alpine Trail
The highlight of Glen Alpine Trail is the Glen Alpine Falls (upper and lower) that you will drive to on your way to the trail head. But look up and look around at the mountains of Desolation Wilderness including Mount Tallac.
In fall the colors are vibrant on the east side.
In spring this area is a perfect Chamber of Commerce image of the area, found on Highway 89 a few miles north of South Lake Tahoe, California.
Take at the end of Fallen Leaf Road just to the west of Lake Tahoe.
Three miles off Highway 50 on Highway 89, take Fallen Leaf Road to the parking lot at the end of the road. Fallen Leaf Road is a beautiful drive. Much of the drive is along Fallen Leaf Lake. The road narrows. I must have pulled over a dozen times to allow cars to pass on my way in and again on my way out. This is a busy road and the falls are just off the road making it a magnet for visitors. Keep driving all the way to the end for better parking. I went early and had time at the falls and didn’t have to hunt for a parking spot. It fills up fast when the weather is nice, so go early when possible.
The parking area is just over the bridge over Fallen Leaf Creek. At the end of the parking lot is a message board and a green gate. Behind the gate is a lovely two-mile trail away from the crowds to Glen Alpine Springs. Upon your return from the out-and-back hike check out more of the Glen Alpine Resort where John Muir founded the Sierra Club.
I had a late lunch with Stella the Wonder Dog next to the creek before the short walk back to the car. Lily Lake and other trails are nearby to extend your adventure.
According to the Recreation.gov web site: Visitors must obtain a Wilderness permit for overnight camping as well as day visits, year-round. A quota system is in place for the 45 overnight destination zones from the Friday before Memorial Day through Sept. 30 of each year. The system disperses visitors throughout the area, providing an opportunity for solitude and reflection. First-served basis on the day of entry. A recreation fee is assessed during the permitting process. Day trips are free of charge.
Mary West is the author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide. The books are a collection of Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, and favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond (Available on Amazon). West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Newspaper Column by the Outdoor Writers Association of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.
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