Photo of Susie Lake, Desolation Wilderness, El Dorado County, CA

Susie Lake Fishing

Desolation Wilderness - El Dorado County

Photo of Lily Lake, El Dorado County, CA

Lily Lake - Looking back down the Trail toward Fallen Leaf Lake

Susie Lake is great overnight destination in the Desolation Wilderness. There are two convenient ways to approach the lake, one from the head of Fallen Leaf Lake and the other from the Echo Lakes trailhead. Situated at an elevation of 7800 feet, Susie Lake makes a good mid-summer and fall destination for fishing. Excellent fishing is found all around the lake and at several nearby lakes. To enter the Desolation Wilderness you need a wilderness permit. They are required for day hikes as well as overnight trips. For day hikes you can pick up a free permit at self-service kiosks at main trailheads.

In My Creel

  • Daredevle Skeeter
  • Mepp's Syclops
  • Panther Martin
  • #14 black flying ant
  • #16 black gnat
  • #18 Quill Body PMD

Since I was carrying both a light spin casting outfit and my fly rod for my fishing in the Desolation Wilderness, I stuffed a number of lures, spinners, and flies into my backpack.

Making Your Way to Susie Lake

For a single day fishing outing, the Fallen Leaf trailhead makes the most sense. To reach Susie Lake from Fallen Leaf Lake, drive from Lake Tahoe to the upper end of Fallen Leaf and around to find the Glen Alpine Creek trailhead. Hike up the creek past Lily Lake and Glen Alpine Spring. After a little more than 3½ miles you will meet the Pacific Crest Trail. Head left and up to Susie Lake, about 4 miles total and 1500 feet in elevation gain.

Photo of Echo Lakes, El Dorado County, CA

Looking Back at Echo Lakes

From Echo Lakes take the water taxi to the upper end of the lakes and head for Lake Aloha. Five miles of moderate uphill hiking (1000 feet elevation gain) will bring you to the shores of Lake Aloha. It is a very popular destination and in the fall the water levels drop considerably. Keep on around the lake to the trail junction at its north end and turn right, dropping down past Heather Lake to Susie Lake. In all, it is about a 7 mile hike if you use the water taxi.

Accommodations and Supplies

Lake Tahoe is crowded in the summer and on weekends, so be sure to have reservations if you plan to stay in the vicinity. Lodging is available at South Lake Tahoe and Stateline, Nevada. Some especially good rates at hotels can be found at South Lake Tahoe in the fall.

You can find lodging and vacation rental cabins at Fallen Leaf Lake. Along the west shore of Lake Tahoe look for lodging at Camp Richardson, Meeks Bay, and Homewood. Campgrounds can be found at Fallen Leaf Lake, Bayview, and Eagle Point.

Photo of Heather Lake in the Deolatiion Wilderness, El Dorado County, CA

Heather Lake

Along Highway 50 on the west side of Echo Summit you will find many campgrounds. You might consider staying at the Strawberry Lodge in Strawberry or the Echo Chalet right at the edge of Echo Lakes.

Good backpacking sites are located in several places around Susie Lake. It can get busy when Pacific Crest Trail hikers are at their peak in mid-summer. That's when I would move up to Half Moon Lake or its neighbor Alta Morris Lake. They both offer scenic campsites.

For more information about camping, lodging, boating, and fishing in the Tahoe area, see California's Greatest Lakes coverage of South Lake Tahoe.

logo saying California's Greatest Lakes

California's Best Camping logo

To find the very best campgrounds in the area and all across California, visit California's Best Camping.

On your way to Susie Lake you can stop at the north end of Lake Tahoe in Truckee to pick up supplies. Fishing tackle is available at these stores:

Closer to Susie Lake, fishing supplies are available almost anywhere you stop from Tahoe City at the north end of Lake Tahoe to South Lake Tahoe where you will find these places:

Coming up Highway 50 you can stop in Placerville at Off the Hook Fly Shop, 1351 Broadway.

Recommended Books for Fishing the Sierra Streams and Lakes


Numerous sidetrips are nearby from your base at Susie Lake. For fishing, the best choice is Gilmore Lake, only about a mile north of Susie Lake. Other lakes in the area offer good fishing, too. Plan a loop and try your luck in as many of the lakes as you can take in during the day.

Yellow-Legged Frog Habitat Restoration in the Desolation Wilderness

In an effort to restore the habitat of the endangered yellow-legged frog in the Sierra, the US Fish and Wildlife has removed all fish from the following lakes: Lucille, Margery, Tamarack, Ralston, Cagwin, LeConte, and Jabu as well as from connecting streams and a pond west of Lake Lucille.

Photo of Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness, El Dorado County, CA

Lake Aloha

Nearby Featured Trips in El Dorado County

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