I’ll say it, Fontanillis Lake is my favorite lake in Desolation Wilderness. It’s a close number one ahead of Lower Velma Lake. With that said, the hike to both of these lakes, Dicks and Fontanillis Lakes are absolutely spectacular. There are a few different ways to reach both of these lakes. You can leave from Bayview Trailhead which will take you past Granite Lake up to Maggie’s Peak or start at Eagle Falls Trailhead which is the one I’ll discuss below. From Eagle Falls Trailhead, the hike is about five miles one way and you’ll gain an elevation of about 2,000 feet.
A little over a month ago, two of my friends and I hiked back to both of these lakes, camping out for one night. We decided to bring our fishing poles as well. The hike starts from Eagle Falls Trailhead and we got a mid-morning start on a Saturday. I was able to pack up my Granite Rocx backpack with my clothes, other necessary gear and fishing pole and the cooler with drinks and food. We were off. The beginning of the trail isn’t too bad as you’ll climb a gentle path until you reach the rock stairs to Eagle Falls. Cross the bridge and you’ll continue to climb. As you continue up the trail, Eagle Lake will veer to the right while you will want to continue up, as we did. It’s a pretty steep climb up as you follow the trail. The trail will flatten for a short section, but then it’s back up and up several switchbacks. To see a few pictures and follow this part of the trail, read one of our previous posts Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake – Fly high hiking this trail!.
Once you reach the top of the saddle, you will see a post and a trail coming from the left. This is the Bayview Trail. Continue to the right. You’ll be in a open area with a rocky trail that’s pretty flat. As we did, you’ll travel about a mile until the next post. If you continue straight, you’ll go towards the Velmas, but you’ll make a left here and go towards Dicks Lake. The trail continues and you’ll reach a flat granite section. The trail will take you up switchbacks, but you can climb the flat granite rock if you want for a shorter trip up to the saddle. Once you reach the saddle, you’ll come to another post where you want to make a right towards Dicks and Fontanillis Lakes. Shortly thereafter, the next post points left for Dicks Lake and right for Fontanillis Lake. You can see Dicks Lake from here so we went towards that lake first. We pulled out our fishing poles and threw our lines in for about 20 minutes. We caught a few very small ones. Below are some pictures.
From Dicks Lake, instead of heading back on the trail, we followed the stream to Fontanillis Lake. I would very much encourage this if there’s not too much snow. The views are beautiful following the stream. First sites of Fontanillis Lake are breathtaking. We set up camp at the lake, did some fishing and cooked dinner. We caught a few fish, what looked like Rainbows and Cutthroat. The moon coming over the mountains was amazing. After a decent nights sleep, we got up early and made our way back to the Trailhead. Here is a MyTracks for the trip back. One last comment, because of this trip, I purchased a Big Agnes Q-Core Insulated Sleeping Pad from Tahoe Mountain Sports which I highly recommend. Find more pictures below!
Getting to Eagle Falls Trailhead is not too difficult. From the Nevada side and South Lake Tahoe, drive towards the “Y”. Make a right onto Emerald Bay Road or Highway 89. Follow this past Camp Richardson and past Bayview Campground on your left. You will continue just a bit further with beautiful Emerald Bay on your right until you see Eagle Falls Trailhead on the left. There is a parking lot that you can park for $5 or you can park for free if there are any spaces available roadside.
If you’re just hiking out for the day, you can grab a permit at Eagle Falls Trailhead or if you’re hiking overnight, you probably want to get an overnight permit. Have you hiked to either Dicks Lake or Fontanillis Lake? If so, make a comment below. Also follow me on twitter @sberei!