Analysing terrain data
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The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.
Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.
Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.
High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.
Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.
Eagle Lake is an idyllic alpine lake nestled at the base of granite mountain peaks, and Eagle Falls is a beautiful cascade on the stream that rushes out of the lake.
The lake is only a two-mile round trip, and is perfect for family-friendly hiking, summer swimming, fishing, and rock climbing.
It is understandably popular during the warm months, but crowds thin out along the lakeshore.
You can even extend the hike to find true solitude higher in the wilderness. The trailhead is across the highway from Emerald Bay State Park.
Park for a fee at the trailhead or for free along the road.
You must fill out a free day use permit at the trailhead because you are about to enter the Desolation Wilderness.
The hike begins easily but spectacularly, crossing a shrubby meadow at the base of a rugged mountain slope to reach Eagle Falls in only a quarter-mile.
You can follow a loop trail back to your car for a one-mile round trip, but Eagle Lake is farther up the valley. The trail to Eagle Lake continues to meander upward, passing sometimes through trees and sometimes in full sun.
The terrain is rocky but the trail is well-maintained and never too rugged.
At mile 0.75 is a fork.
Go right to continue to the lake, just a quarter-mile farther.
Going left leads up into the high country, where more remote lakes and peaks await along a much longer hike. Once at the lake, you’ll enjoy a view of sparkling-blue water, perfectly framed by gray cliffs and green trees.
If it’s hot out, you can enjoy a dip in the crisp water.
Take time to scramble along the shore and explore it all from different angles.
Find a rock outcrop of your own to jump in or drop a line.
When satisfied, return the way you came to the trailhead.