Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Via Big Meadow to Dardanelles Lake northwest of Round Lake

Dardanelles Lake northwest of Round Lake in the Eldorado National Forest in the Sierra Nevada is located about half-way between the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT).  The shortest path to the lake is from the Tahoe Rim Trail parking lot next to Highway 89 between Meyers and Hope Valley (4 miles, one-way; see map). The trail starts at the Big Meadow Trailhead. Take the southbound TRT route via Big Meadow to Round Lake. The latter is three miles south from the trailhead. But to get to Dardanelles Lake, you want to turn right after a little more than two miles—before reaching Round Lake. Head north on a trail that connects the TRT with Meyers Trailhead and Hawley Grade National Recreation Trail (another map). After a quarter-mile you'll reach another trail fork. Turn left: this final, westbound cul-de-sac—unsigned Dardanelles Lake Trail—concludes your hike or ride to the lake by wading through or rock-hopping over two streams, about a mile apart.

With the exception of Big Meadow, the trail leads through forest of Jeffrey pines, lodgepole pines, red firs and a few old sierra junipers. Quaking aspen, manzanita, yellow buttercup, lupine, paintbrush, monkey-flower, corn lily and pond lily (near the first stream crossing) are other wayside plants. Dardanelles Lake is surrounded by natural granite sculptures including tall cliffs, humps (as shown in the picture above), shelves, slabs and slopes. The lake is part of the Upper Truckee River system and considered a fishing gem by anglers. Overnighters will find a pleasant campsite near a quiet cove.   

Outdoor activity tags: hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, swimming, sunbathing, trout fishing, picnicking, backpacking, camping.

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