Friday, May 24, 2013

Tahoe-Yosemite Trail: From Meeks Bay to Lake Genevieve

Snowplant ring, valley of Meeks Creek, California

Lake Genevieve, a greenish, shallow lake in the Desolation Wilderness, CaliforniaThe Tahoe-Yosemite Trail (TYT) is a 185-mile-long path that starts at Lake Tahoe's Meeks Bay and ends at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite—all in California. The trail is named after the title of a hiking guidebook written by Thomas Winnett [1]. The trail has difficult parts, with sections not so easy to find and follow. Locally it takes you to over 10,000 feet. Not so its northern most stretch between Meeks Bay and Lake Genevieve (right picture). This beautiful section mostly follows Meeks Creek, rushing water you always hear (at least, during spring months), but may not always see. The valley of Meeks Creek is a landscape of bogs and alpine meadows surrounded by pine and cedar forest and granite walls. Snow plants, as shown above, can be found here in spring. Around this time, corn lily shoots with their characteristically veined, bright green leaves are emerging at several places.

At one point, you'll cross Meeks Creek on a narrow, two-beam bridge without any handrails. A steady climb will get you to a three-way junction marked by a post, 4.6 miles from the Meeks Bay trailhead. Lake Genevieve is already in view and you have several options to venture forward; in Mike White's words [2]:
The old Lake Genevieve Trail to the right [of the post at the TYT] is a seldom-used lateral that connects to the General Creek and Pacific Crest trails. Just beyond the junction is Lake Genevieve, a greenish, shallow lake rimmed by pines. A number of fair campsites are spread around the far shoreline, but more appealing sites with better scenery are just a short distance up the trail, at Crag Lake.

Notice that a permit is required to stay overnight. Sign-in forms are available at the Meeks Bay trailhead.

Getting there
The Meeks Bay trailhead is located next to Highway 89 (eleven miles south of Tahoe City), south of Sugar Pine Point State Park and north of D. L. Bliss State Park. There are a few scattered parking lots along the west side of the road. At the trail gate you'll find an information board with a map; a section of which is shown below. However, during my last visit this May, I couldn't find any hints that this is the beginning of the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail. Obviously, the TYT is not an officially endorsed or maintained trail. But the section between Meeks Bay and the first string of alpine lakes in the Desolation Wilderness is well maintained and easy to follow trail. This scenic trail starts out as an old dirt road and contues as a single-track trail—an outstanding hiking trail comparable with or even superior to other trail gems around Lake Tahoe. 

Nearby trails and attractions south of Meeks Bay

Tahoe-Yosemite Trail (TYT) hiking map, as posted at Meeks Bay trailhead

References and more to explore
[1] Tahoe Yosemite Trail [].
[2] Mike White: Afoot & Afield, Reno-Tahoe. Wilderness Press, Berkeley, California, 2nd printing November 2008.

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