My best friend, Steve, and I were able carve out a quick weekend from our schedules to hike Stoney Ridge Lake in early July. I had not previously been a fan of Desolation Wilderness hikes, but it was close to home for Steve and the forest service had implemented a new permitting system to keep the number of visitors manageable.
The trailhead begins at Meeks Bay (Tahoe) and climbs 1600' over 6.7 miles to the camp sites near the small dam at Stoney Ridge Lake. The trail was gloriously shaded in most areas and both our ascent and descent to and from the lake took about 3hrs and 20 minutes at a leisurely pace. The highlight of the trip for me was our "layover" day exploration that took us past Rubicon Lake on trail, then steeply off trail to the saddle near Jakes Peak. The views of Lake Tahoe from amongst the white bark pines and atop a hefty fault were quite euphoric. The hike to the saddle and back was 7.5 miles with a 1450' elevation gain. (See interactive map below).
Fishing at Stoney Ridge Lake was rough, and we didn't invest as much time as we needed into landing the 20"+ rainbows and browns we saw cruising the shores in the evening and early morning. I had one large brown nail the tail of a plastic swimming worm on a jig head about 20' in front of me. I watched & reacted to the aggressive strike by trying to set the hook but ended up yanking the bait out of its mouth.
As a side note, the mosquitos were thick, but not the worst. One camp played a bluetooth boombox until 11pm the first night, but they were the only other folks at the lake... until Saturday. New backpackers decided to claim spots uncomfortably close to our little piece of paradise, but since we were gone when they came into camp, we just dealt with it by leaving as planned early the next morning.
I'd rate this as a nice Desolation Hike: 8/10.
3D model of mafic enclaves in Phipps Pass Granodiorite.
Click to interact with model I scanned using iphone lidar.
We tried to find some light for real photography as we left and settled on Tunnel View, which was just OK. What an amazing day!
We spent a lovely day strolling along the various meadows in the valley gawking at the unusual sight of a full-throated Yosemite Falls with fall colors all around the Merced River. We had our camp dinner in the Ahwahnee meadow picnic area. Belly's full, I walked down the path to capture some neat clouds rolling off Half Dome, but had no idea one of the best sunsets I've ever witnessed was about to occur. Luckily I happened to have my camera capturing interval shots every two seconds for 10 minutes when the show started. Such a great memory.
3D LiDar Scans from the Hike.
Ryan J Hollister - Geoscience & EnviroSci Educator, Avid hiker, Landscape photographer, WildLink Club Advisor, Central Valley Advocate.