To reach Cliff Lake in Desolation Wilderness, park at the
Meeks Bay Trailhead.
Meeks Bay is located on the south western shore of Lake Tahoe, California.
The trail to Cliff Lake leads to a pater noster string of lakes including Lake Genevieve, Crag Lake, Hidden Lake, Shadow Lake and Stony Ridge Lake.
Wilderness permits are required in Desolation Wilderness and can be reserved online at recreation.gov.
The trail to Cliff Lake starts on a dirt road and stays flat for the first
1.6 miles. There is ample shade for the majority of this hike. There are only two steep climbs and
before you know it, you will be at Lake Genevieve. You may find yourself alone
at Lake Genevieve as Crag Lake makes a much better camping experience and people tend to stay
there. I recommend staying at Hidden Lake just above Crag Lake for the night and day hiking up
to Cliff from there. Once at Hidden Lake, walk up the hill directly south until you reach Cliff Lake,
nestled against the east side of Crag Peak. An alternate route can be made by following the outlet
creek of Cliff Lake which flows into the west side of Stony Ridge Lake. So, you could hike to Stony Ridge
Lake and follow the western shoreline until you find the creek coming from Cliff.
Cliff Lake is listed as a Brook Trout water in northeastern Desolation Wilderness. It is a very small lake and
relatively easy to access. We visited Cliff Lake during ice-out and it was one of the coolest sights I have ever
seen. The shore on the north side consisted of half-frozen slush that was a neon aqua blue. The lake seemed very
small but it was hard to gauge where the water started or ended on the east side because everything was under a foot of snow.
As for the fishing, it seemed very lifeless. I saw no signs of life but I rarely do when I come across half-frozen
lakes. Our trip was in early June so you might have better luck later in the season; July or August. All in all, it
isn't one of the most popular destinations in Desolation Wilderness so you can probably find yourself
alone here most of the time. We couldn't really make a judgment call on the camping situation due to the