Saturday, November 4, 2017

Grass Lake Trail: from Lily Lake to Grass Lake in the Desolation Wilderness

 Grass Lake

From the Glen Alpine trailhead at the north side of Lily Lake, a westbound gravel road leads past private cabins and decaying buildings to the Glen Alpine Springs Historical Site, located one mile from the trailhead. Interpretive displays explain the history of the site and illustrate how its resort structures once looked. 

At a junction 1.6 miles from the trailhead, Glen Alpine Trail continues northwest to Mt. Tallac, Half Moon Lake and Susie Lake, while the 1.1-mile-long Grass Lake Trail veers southwest to Grass Lake. Soon you will leave the riparian forest into a more open, glacial granite landscape with scattered conifers. At one point, you need to cross Glen Alpine Creek. A log across the creek comes in convenient to hold on in case the step-rocks are slippery.

Fractured rock structure near Grass Lake
Beyond this crossing, the single-track trail remains its gentle uphill path through small canyons and around fractured granite structures, occasionally covered with pinemat manzanita or with a few trees on top. The granite scenery continues at Grass Lake. Although the lake has some shallow corners with grass growing on its shore, the overall appearance of the lake is dominated by the granite rocks and cliffs surrounding it.

Getting to the Glen Alpine trailhead

The trailhead is located at the end of a narrow, paved one-lane road south of the Tallac Historic Site. From Highway 89 (about one mile west of Camp Richardson), turn onto Fallen Leaf Lake Road. Follow the road along the entire length of Fallen Leaf Lake. Be prepared to stop to let oncoming traffic pass. Also watch for pedestrians, bicyclists and dogs, especially while passing  the lakeside homes and cabins. Past the fire station at the far end of the lake (about 4.5 miles south of Hwy 89), follow the road as it winds uphill. Find parking after crossing a bridge over Glen Alpine Creek.  

Glen Alpine Creek waterfall between Lily Lake and Glen Alpine Springs

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