Tahoe-Yosemite Trail: Genevieve and Crag Lakes

MEEKS BAY TRAILHEAD

MEEKS BAY TRAILHEAD

TRAIL DESCRIPTION: Hikers can access the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail (TYT) from the Meeks Bay Trail Head by following Meeks Creek upstream into Desolation Wilderness to Phipps Pass. At about 4.6 miles Genevieve Lake, the first of 7 lakes can be found. Continuing on for another ½ mile hikers are treated to Crag Lake backdropped by the Granitic slopes of Crag Peak standing about 9054 feet. Continuing along the trail hikers will find Hidden Lake, Shadow Lake, Cliff Lake, Stony Ridge Lake and at 8 miles out is Rubicon Lake the 7th and probably the prettiest of all the 7 Tallant Lakes. Round trip to all lakes is about 16 miles.

WINTER SNOWSHOE HIKING: The first part of this trial is great for Cross country skiing and Snowshoe hiking.


LAKE GENEVIEVE

LAKE GENEVIEVE

CRAG LAKE

CRAG LAKE


MAP to Tallant Lakes

MAP to Tallant Lakes

DIRECTIONS: From Tahoe City, take Highway 89 south towards Emerald Bay for about 11 miles. Park on the west side of the road opposite Meeks Bay Campground.  From South Shore’s intersection of Highway 50/89 travel north for about 16.5 miles.


DAY USE PERMITS

DAY USE PERMITS

The Tallant Lakes lie WITHIN DESOLATION WILDERNESS AND REQUIRE A PERMIT BOTH FOR DAY HIKERS AND CAMPERS. DAYHIKERS MAY SELF-REGISTER AT THE TRAILHEAD. |


MIXED FOREST

MIXED FOREST

UPPER MONTANE LIFE ZONE:  The hike along the Tahoe-Yosemite trail to the Tallant Lakes climbs through the Upper Montane  zone which is typically found in the Tahoe area from lake level, 6230 ft. to 8,000 ft. The trail at the beginning follows Meeks creek valley and meanders through a mixed fir-pine forest and eventually climbs through red-fir canyons along Meeks creek. The creek terrain is dotted with riparian plants, many which bloom in July-August. The first several lakes are surrounded by Jeffery pines, Red fir and some Western White pines. As the trail ascends in elevation, Lodgepole and some Sierra Junipers can be found.


FLORA and FAUNA  that may be seen as you hike along the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail to the Tallant Lakes are described below.  (All plants listed were seen in July and August of 2011-13.)

MEEKS CREEK TRAIL

MEEKS CREEK TRAIL

Meeks Bay Trailhead follows an old logging load for an easy 1.5 miles with great views of Meeks Creek meadow. The trail is dotted with Incense Cedars, White Fir and a few Sugar pines and meadow species dotting the open areas.


WILDERNESS BOUNDRY

WILDERNESS BOUNDARY

After about 1.5 miles, the TYT leaves the logging trail and branches off to the right with a reminder that Wilderness permits are required.
MIXED CONIFEROUS FOREST

MIXED CONIFEROUS FOREST


The trail ascends up through a mixed forest of Incense Cedars and White Fir. 
INCENSE CEDAR

INCENSE CEDAR

Common Name: Incense Cedar
Scientific Name: Calocedrus decurrens
Family: Cupressaceae
Notes: Incense Cedar bark was used by Native Americans to build shelters.

Common Name: White Fir
Scientific Name: Abies concolor
Family: Pinaceae
Notes: White Firs area common in the Tahoe up to about 7,5000 ft. and the bud flower twist in the bud stage.’

UPPER MONTANE UNDERSTORY

UPPER MONTANE

 In the Understory of the tree canopy can be found Mountain Whitethorn, Snow plant, Service Berry, Green-stipuled Lupin and an occasional Bubble Gum fungi.

Mt. WHITETHORN

Mt. WHITETHORN

Common Name:   Mt. Whitethorn
Scientific Name: Ceanothus cordulatus
Family: Rhamnaceae
Notes: This plant is also known as Snowbush.

SNOW PLANT

SNOW PLANT

Common Name:  Snow Plant
Scientific Name: Sarcodes sanguinea
Family: Ericaceae
Notes: This plant is a non-photosynthesizing plant living off decomposing material in the soil.

SERVICE BERRY

SERVICE BERRY

Common Name: Service Berry
Scientific Name: Amelanchier utahensis
Family: Rosaceae
Notes: This plant flowers early in the season and has edible berries.

GREEN-STIPULED LUPIN

GREEN-STIPULED LUPIN

Common Name: Green-stipuled Lupin
Scientific Name: Lupinus fulcratus
Family: Fabaceae
Notes: This plant is often found in granitic soils and is identified from other lupin
by its lack of banner hairs.

BUBBLEGUM FUNGI

BUBBLE GUM FUNGI

Common Name: Bubble Gum Fungi
Scientific Name: Nivatogastrium nubigenum
Kingdom: Fungi
Notes: Bubble Gum fungi are organisms that are non green and have cell walls made of chitin. They live off of decaying material in the soil. This fungi’s cap has a bubble gum smell!

OPEN GRANITIC MONTANE

OPEN GRANITIC MONTANE

The trail climbs upwards into an open-granitic area which is habitat to plants that can tolerate more sun and granitic substrate such as Green-leaved Manzanita, Hot Rock Penstemon, Stonecrop  and Mountain Pride.

GREEN MANZANITA

GREEN MANZANITA

Common Name: Green-leaved Manzanita
Scientific Name: Arctostaphylos patula
Family: Ericaceae
Notes: Green-leaved manzanita is commonly found lower than 7,500-8,000 ft. Pinemat manzanita is more common at higher elevations

HOT ROCK PENSTEMON

HOT ROCK PENSTEMON

Common Name: Hot Rock Penstemon
Scientific Name: Penstemon duestus
Family: Plantaginaceae
Notes: This plant is quite common in hot open granitic areas.

STONE CROP

STONE CROP

Common Name: Sierra Stonecrop
Scientific Name: Sedum obtusatum ssp. obtusatum
Family: Crassulaceae
Notes: Sedum is the only genus recognized in Tahoe. This group utilizes the CAM photosythesizing process and thus is able to conserve water by opening its stomata at night.

MOUNTAIN PRIDE

MOUNTAIN PRIDE

Common Name: Mountain Pride
Scientific Name: Penstemon newberryi
Family: Plantaginaceae
Notes: This plant is often in small rocky outcropings.
TRAIL

TRAIL


 

The trail then climbs back into the White Fir understory where Blue-eyed Mary, Death Camus, Nuttall’s Larkspur, Heartleaved Arnica and Sticky Cinquefoil can be found.


20DSC_0057BlueEyedMary
Common Name: Blue-eyed Mary
Scientific Name: Collinsia torreyi
Family: Plantaginaceae
Notes:

DEATH CAMUS

DEATH CAMUS

Common Name: Death Camus
Scientific Name: Zigadenus venenosus
Family: Melanthiaceae
Notes: The Death Camus is very poisonous if ingested.

NUTTALL'S LARKSPUR

NUTTALL’S LARKSPUR

Common Name: Nuttall’s Larkspur
Scientific Name: Delphinium nuttallianum
Family: Ranunculaceae
Notes: This Larkspur prefers open granitic soils compared to the Large Larkspur which prefers moist areas.

HEARTLEAF ARNICA

HEARTLEAF ARNICA

Common Name: Heartleaf  Arnica
Scientific Name: Arnica cordifolia
Family: Asteraceae
Notes: This plant is common up to 8,000 ft and has leaves2-9 cm in length

STICKY CINQUEFOIL

STICKY CINQUEFOIL

Common Name: Sticky Cinquefoil
Scientific Name: Drymocallis glandulosa
Family: Rosaceae
Notes:

 


POCKET MEADOW

TRAIL through POCKET MEADOW

The trail crosses several seeping springs which provide seasonal water for moisture loving plants such as Thimble Berry, Alpine Lily, Scouler’s Willow, Shooting star, Rein Orchid, Creek Dogwood,  Applegate’s Paintbrush and Bishop’s Cap.

 

 


THIMBLE BERRY

THIMBLE BERRY

Common Name: Thimbleberry
Scientific Name: Rubus parvifllorus
Family: Roseacea
Notes: Thimbleberry plants produce an edible red berry and are related to California Blackberries.

 

 


ALPINE LILY

ALPINE LILY

Common Name: Alpine Lily
Scientific Name: Lilium parvum
Family: Liliaceae
Notes: Alpine lilies look similar to Leopard lilies but are usually taller than Alpine lilies. Alpine lilies are often found with Alders and Willows.

 


SCOULER'S WILLOW

SCOULER’S WILLOW

Common Name: Scouler’s Willow
Scientific Name: Salix scouleriana
Family: Salicaceae
Notes: The leaves of this willow are oblanceolate. Catkins appear before the leaves.

 


SIERRA SHOOTING STAR

SIERRA SHOOTING STAR

Common Name: Sierra Shooting star
Scientific Name: Dodecatheon jeffreyi
Family: Primulaceae
Notes: This flower is also know as Jeffrey’s Shooting Star. It has a maroon ring above and yellow above the lobes.

 


REIN ORCHID

REIN ORCHID

Common Name:  Rein Orchid
Scientific Name: Platanthera leucostachys
Family: Orchidaceae
Notes:

 


CREEK DOGWOOD

CREEK DOGWOOD

Common Name: Creek Dogwood
Scientific Name: Cornus sericea
Family: Cornaceae
Notes: This plant is also known as American Dogwood. The seeds are edible but they are not very sweet and  the twigs of this plant are bright red-purple.

 


APPLEGATE'S PAINTBRUSH

APPLEGATE’S PAINTBRUSH

Common Name: Applegate’s Paintbrush
Scientific Name: Castilleja applegatei
Family: Orobanchaceae
Notes: These plants are parasitic tapping into roots of other plansts. This plant has the ability to store selenium.

 

 


BISHOP'S CAP

BISHOP’S CAP

Common name: Bishop’s Cap 
Scientific Name: Mitella breweri
Family: Saxifragaceae
Notes: Name refers to similarity to a Bishops hat!

 


TRAIL through WHITE FIR

TRAIL through WHITE FIR

The trail continues along a Bracken Fern laden path though a section of White Fir trees, Red Fir and Western White Pine

 


Bracken Fern

Bracken Fern

Common Name: Bracken Fern
Scientific Name: Peteridium aqualinum var. pubescens
Family: Dennstaedtiaceae
Notes: This fern is often found in moist areas mixed with Thimbleberry.The young fronds are edible but mature plant is toxic if eaten in large quantities.

 


RED FIR & JEFFERY PINE

RED FIR & JEFFERY PINE

Common Name: Red Fir
Scientific Name:  Abies magnifica
Family: Pinaceae
Notes: Red fir typically are found above an elevation of  7,000 feet.

 


Desolation Wilderness Boundry

Desolation Wilderness Boundry

At about 2.5 miles the trail enters the Desolation Wilderness boundary and the trail parallels Meek’s creek and more groves of firs

 


 


Western Swallowtail

Western Swallowtail

The trail continues through a dense strain of White Firs and an occasional butterfly such as Western Tiger Swallowtail.
Common Name: Western Tiger  Swallowtail
Scientific Name: Papilio nutulus 
Order: Lepidoptera
Notes: The larvae of this butterfly are often found on willows.

 


White Fir open areas

White Fir open areas

 In the exposed understories of these firs can be seen plants that can survive in these more volcanic soils such as Woolly Mule ears, Silverleaved Phacelia, Scarlet Gilia and dense patches of Brewer’s Lupin.

 


Woolly Mule Ears

Woolly Mule Ears

Common Name: Woolly Mule’s Ears
Scientific Name: Wyethia mollis
Family: Asteraceae
Notes: This plants often grow in granitic soil

 


SILVERLEAVED PHACELIA

SILVERLEAVED PHACELIA

Common Name: Silverleaved Phacelia
Scientific Name: Phacelia hastata
Family: Boranginaceae
Notes: This plant is found below tree line but above tree-line it is replaced by Timberline Phacelia.

 


Scarlet Gilia

Scarlet Gilia

Common Name: Scarlet Gilia
Scientific Name: Ipomopsis aggregata
Family: Polemoniaceae
Notes: The brilliant red colors of the petals attract pollinators.

 


Brewer's Lupin

Brewer’s Lupin

Common Name: Brewer’s Lupin
Scientific Name: Lupins breweri
Family: Fabaceae
Notes: Brewer’s Lupin can be found in matted patches in open granitic areas. When in full bloom these can be very fragrant.

 


Taylor Creek

Taylor Creek

The trail eventually crosses Taylor creek at about 3.3 miles. In this riparian habitat can be found Crimson Columbine, Carex,  Fendler’s Rue, and Red Elderberry. Check out the Lady Beetle on the Mt. Alder leave.

 


Crimson Columbine

Crimson Columbine

Common Name: Crimson Columbine
Scientific Name: Aquilegia formosa
Family: Ranunculaceae
Notes: This flower attracts hummingbirds.

 


CAREX

CAREX

Common Name: Sedge
Scientific Name: Carex
Family: Cyperacea
Notes: Sedges stems have rough edges compared with smooth, round rushes.

 


FENDLER'S MEADOW RUE (mixed in with Ferns)

FENDLER’S MEADOW RUE
(mixed in with Ferns)

Common Name: Fendler’s Meadow rue
Scientific Name: Thalictrum fendleri
Family: Ranunculaceae
Notes: This plant is dioecious having separate male and female plants.

 


BLUE ELDERBERRY

BLUE ELDERBERRY

 

Common Name: Blue Elderberry
Scientific Name: Sambucus mexicana
Family: Adoxaceae
Notes: Berries are edible after cooking.

 


Convergent Lady Beetle

Convergent Lady Beetle

Common Name:  Convergent Lady Beetle
Scientific Name: Hippodamia convergens
Family: Coccindelidae
Notes: The brillant colors of the Lady Beetle are a warning to predators that they contain distasteful juices.

 


Trail into RED FIR forest

Trail into RED FIR forest

The trail continues to climb up to the edges of a Red Fir forest. The edge of the trail is dotted again with Mountain Pride, Indian Paintbrush, Sticky Current and Mountain Strawberry .

 


MT. STRAWBERRY

MT. STRAWBERRY

Common Name: Mountain Strawberry
Scientific Name: Fragaria virginiana
Family: Rosaceae
Notes: Fruits of this plant are a food source for many animals.

 


BLUE BUTTERFLIES

BLUE BUTTERFLIES

 

In the occasional moist soil areas can be seen more butterflies such as the Blues and Checkerspots.

 

Variable Northern Checker Spots

Variable Northern Checker Spots

 


Trail Montane Zone

Trail Montane Zone

 

The trail climbs out of the forest and out to a ridge to a drier montane chaparral. Plants that can tolerate more exposure, less water can be seen such as Pine Mat Manzanita, Huckleberry Oak, White-Veined Mallow, Pussy Paws, Sierra Chinquapine, Spreading phlox and Sierra Onion

 


Pine Mat Manzanita

Pine Mat Manzanita

Common Name: Pine Mat Manzanita
Scientific Name: Arctostaphylos nevadensis
Family: Ericaceae
Notes: Berries are eaten by many herbivores.

 


Huckleberry Oak & Gall

Huckleberry Oak & Gall

Common Name: Huckleberry Oak
Scientific Name: Quercus vaccinifolia
Family: Fagaceae
Notes: This plant has male and female catkins. The acorn, the fruit of this plant, takes several years to mature. The Gall is caused by a Paper wasp.

 


White-veined Mallow

White-veined Mallow

Common Name: White-veined Mallow
Scientific Name: Sildalcea glaucescens
Family: Malvaceae
Notes: Look for the white nectar lines inside the petals of this flower.

 


Pussy Paws

Pussy Paws

Common Name: Pussy Paws
Scientific Name: Calyptridium monospermum
Family: Montiaceae
Notes: The stems of this plant become more erect as the day warms.

Sierra Chinquapin

Sierra Chinquapin

Name: Sierra Chinquapin
Scientific Name: Chrysolepis sempervirens
Family: Fagaceae
Notes: This plant is monoecious with the female flowers located below the male.

 


Spreading Phlox

Spreading Phlox

Common Name: Spreading Phlox
Scientific Name: Phlox diffusa
Family: Polemoniaceae
Notes: The color of the petals changes from pink/lavender to white after it has been pollinated. This color change may help insects to know which flowers to pollinate.

 


Sierra Onion

Sierra Onion

Common Name: Sierra Onion
Scientific Name: Allium campanulatum
Family: Alliaceae
Notes: This plant has an onion odor!

 


Trail

Trail

The trail continues up General Creek canyon. In the shadier areas plants like False Solomen Seal, Double Flowered Honeysuckle and Spreading Dogbane dot the understory

 


False Solomen's Seal

False Solomen’s Seal

Common Name: False Solomon’s  Seal
Scientific Name: Maianthemum racemosa
Family: Ruscaceae
Notes:

 


Double-Flowered Honeysuckle

Double-Flowered Honeysuckle

Common Name: Double-Flowered Honeysuckle
Scientific Name: Linneaa conjugialis
Family: Caprifoliaceae

 


Spreading Dogbane

Spreading Dogbane

Common Name: Spreading Dogbane
Scientific Name:Apocynum androsacemifoli
Family: Apocynaceae
Notes: This plant blooms later in the summer and has white to pink bell-shaped flowers. The shape of the corolla is a good fit for honeybees which pollinate it.

 


Trail Montane Zone

Trail Montane Zone

 

The trail continues through the upper Montane Zone which has also been referred to as the Transition Zone because it lies in the temperature & precipitation edge between those plants that rely on more rain than snow. Typically this zone receives between 25-80 inches of snow which usually results in a growing season of around 4-7 months.

 


Trail Understory

Trail Understory

Mixed in the understory of the Lodgepole, Western White Pines and Sierra Junipers are Crest Lupin, Sticky Current, Mountain spirea and Alpine Lady Fern.

 

 


Western White Pine

Western White Pine

Common Name: Western White Pine
Scientific Name: Pinus monticolor
Family: Pinacea
Notes: Western White Pines can tolerate colder conditions and are found above 7,000 replacing Sugar Pine trees which are found below 7,000 ft.
Western White Pinecone

Western White Pinecone

 


Sierra Juniper

Sierra Juniper

Common Name: Sierra Juniper
Scientific Name: Juniperus occidentalis var. australis
Family: Cupressaceae
Notes: These trees are some of the oldest in the Tahoe basin some over a 1000 years old!

 


Crest Lupin

Crest Lupin

Common Name: Crest Lupin
Scientific Name: Lupinus arbustus
Family: Fabaceae
Notes: Lupins have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that fix nitrogen from the air and turn into nitrates for the plant.

 


Sticky Current

Sticky Current

Common Name: Sticky Current
Scientific Name: Ribes viscosissimum
Family:  Grossulariaceae

 


Mountain Spireae

Mountain Spireae

Common Name: Mountain Spiraea

Scientific Name: Spiraea densiflora
Family: Rosacea
Notes: The name of this plant is derived from the Greek word for plants used in garlands!

 


ALPINE LADY FERN

ALPINE LADY FERN

Common Name: Alpine Lady Fern
Scientific Name: Athyrium  falpestre
Famliy: Dryopteridaceae
Notes: The tips of this Fern have toothed lobes.

 


General Creek/PCT sign

General Creek/PCT sign

At about 4.6 miles from the trailhead is a post marking the old Lake Genevieve Trail to the right that connects to General Creek and the Pacific Crest Trails. The best way to reach Lake Genevieve is to continue straight on the Tahoe-Yosemite trail that you have been following.

 


LAKE GENEVIEVE

LAKE GENEVIEVE

Lake Genevieve is a shallow lake rimmed by Lodgepole pines. There are several campsites spread around the far side of the lake.

 


Lodgepole sapling

Lodgepole sapling

 

Common Name: Lodgepole pine
Scientific Name:  Pinus contorta-murrayana
Family: Pinaceae
Notes: Lodge pole pines can tolerate both wet anaerobic environments as well as dry rocky soils. The genus, contorta, refers to the ability of Lodge Pole pines to grow around rocks and on the sides of cliffs.
Lodgepole cones

Lodgepole cones

 


Mt. Alder

Mt. Alder catkins

Along the Lakes edge can also be found plants that require more moist habitats such as Mountain Alders.

 

 

Common Name: Mountain AlderScientific Name: Alanus incana ssp. tenuifolia

Family: Betulaceae
Notes: Mountain Alders prefer habitats near the water and have small woody catkins.

Crag Lake & Crag Peak

Crag Lake & Crag Peak

By taking the TYT around the east shore of Lake Genieve the trail continues another ½ mile to Crag Lake, the second of the Tallant Lakes . Crag Lake lies underneath 9054 foot Crag Peak.

 

 

 


Swimming in Crag Lake

Swimming in Crag Lake

 

Around the east shore of the lake are also some great campsites and fishing spots and dog swimming holes!

Crag Lake

Crag Lake

 


 

 

Tahoe-Yosemite Trail sign

Tahoe-Yosemite Trail sign

The TYT continues on to Phipps pass and the other Tallant Lakes: Hidden Lake, Shadow Lake, at 6.3 miles Stony Ridge Lake and eventually 8 miles out, Rubicon Lake.

Tahoe-Yosemite Trail to the rest of the Tallant Lakes

Tahoe-Yosemite Trail to the rest of the Tallant Lakes

 


All photographs were taken by Lynn Hori. Plant information was gathered from: Plants of the Tahoe Basin by Michael Graft and A Siera Nevada Flora by Norman F. Weeden and  A Natural History of Western Trees by Donald Culross Peattie,  Sierra Nevada Natural History by Tracy I. Storer and Robert L. Ursinger and A Sierra Nevada Flora by Norman F. Weeden.. Trail information was gathered from Top Trails Lake Tahoe by Mike White.

 

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