Desolation Wilderness: Mount Tallac Trailhead





(One Way)



Floating Island Lake




1.7 miles



Cathedral Lake




2.5 miles



Mount Tallac


difficult, technical


5 miles




Directions to the trailhead


The trailhead is located approximately 3-1/2 miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89. Look for the Mt. Tallac Trailhead sign directly across from the entrance to Baldwin Beach. Turn left down the dirt road and continue to the trailhead parking.



The first part of the trail to Floating Island and Cathedral Lakes is easy to moderate and can be enjoyed by the novice hiker. Beyond Cathedral Lake, the trail becomes steep and strenuous as it continues up the front face of Mount Tallac.

Attractions and Considerations


Providing a spectacular view of Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Desolation Wilderness, this strenuous hike is well worth the effort. Weather conditions can change rapidly in the Sierra mountains; bring a jacket, carry lots of water and allow plenty of time for your trip.

A wilderness permit is required. Day hikers, pick up your permit at the self serve area at the trailhead. Overnight hikers will need an overnight permit for Desolation Wilderness. This permit must be purchased before you get to the Mt. Tallac Trailhead.

Useful Map Information


U.S. Forest Service map: Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit:
R.17 E.   T. 12 N. 


Trail Difficulty Ratings

Each trail in our guide is rated for difficulty.  These ratings are generally based on trail condition, steepness of grades, gain and loss of elevation, technical aspects, and the amount and kinds of natural barriers that must be traversed.  Here's what these ratings mean:

easy  Easy: Trail requiring limited skill with little challenge to travel.

moderate  Moderate: Trail requiring some skill & challenge to travel.

difficult/technical  Difficult, technical: Trail requiring high degree of skill & challenge to travel.