you proceed up canyon (you may have to cross the creek again depending
on the time of year) you will eventually intersect a trail that meanders
first along the stream then away, then through a marshy area (in the
spring). After 2 or so miles, the canyon widens and divides into two
drainages. The left (south) drainage will lead to Snow Lake while the
right (north) will head more steeply up hill following a small stream
to Azure Lake.
you have the time, it is nice to visit both lakes. But if you must decide,
then Azure Lake is the nicer of the two. Azure is a small, deep glacial
lake with precipitous rock walls that drop from a ridge at 9200' all
the way to the lake. An island in the middle of the lake makes a great
"dare" as the water is snow fed and always cold.
second option is to make a loop of the hike by finding an unmarked trail
that starts on the east shore of the lake. Follow this trail as it heads
east/northeast and climbs steadily away from the lake. After about one
mile, the trail will turn north and climb steeply up a broad drainage
to the ridge just west of South Maggies Peak. This faint trail will intersect
the main Granite/Dicks Lake trail at the saddle. Turn right (east) onto
this trail which will climb a little for a half mile or so then start
steeply downhill toward Granite Lake. From Granite Lake, continue on the
trail to the Bayview trail head. This route requires advanced back-country
skills and should not be tempted by inexperienced hikers. The loop adds
a couple of miles to the distance and involves more elevation gain as
well. The entire loop can take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours depending on
the skill and condition of the hikers but is well worth the effort if
your party has the experience.
Concerns: Much of this hike will be on faint or nonexistent
trails. Hiking off-trail demands that you pay particular attention to
the environmental impact of your passing. Make real effort to avoid
trampling the flora as in this harsh alpine environment, growth is slow
and damage can take years to heal. Be sure to take care of your personal
business at least 200 yards away from any water. Bury waste 6 or more
inches deep and we recommend that you carry out your toilet paper in
a plastic bag to minimize impact. Do not drink untreated water in any
of the streams or lakes as Giardia is prevalent in Desolation Wilderness
and is miserable to contract!
Desolation Wilderness is a big area and you could get seriously lost
on this hike if you have little experience or simply do not pay attention.
This hike can take a lot longer than you would think based on the mileage.
Take plenty of water, food, and appropriate clothing for the time of
year. For more suggestions about back-country travel, go to our Tips