Maggie's Peak towers above Cascade Lake in Desolation Wilderness' fringe, and as such, it offers panoramic views over much of the Lake Tahoe rim as well as many of the surrounding peaks and lakes in Desolation.
Though not as popular as nearby Mount Tallac, Maggie's Peak (8,699 feet) lies just off of the Granite Lake Trail, accessed from the Bayview Trailhead. It can be a slightly easier alternative to Tallac because it requires less distance and elevation gain. It is also a great day hike for those unable to backpack further into the Desolation backcountry.
That being said, Maggie's Peak is still not an easy jaunt. Beginning at the edge of Bayview Campground, visitors must first fill out a free Desolation Wilderness permit located at the trailhead before hiking into the area. From the very beginning, the trail veers into switchbacks as you gain elevation through a dense pine forest. As you climb, the sounds of the campground and highway below become increasingly distant until the trail reaches several clusters of large granite boulders that make a great place to take a break and look down over scenic Emerald Bay.
After about 800 feet of elevation gain over the course of 1.1 miles, the trail reaches Granite Lake, a small alpine lake nestled in the shadow of the peak. During hot days, Granite Lake might make a great place to cool off along the uphill slog.
Beyond the lake, the switchbacks resume over well-defined but rocky terrain for an additional mile. A ledge brings you to views looking down on Eagle Lake before the Granite Lake Trail skirts the slope to the peak while continuing further into Desolation Wilderness. There are no defined paths to the top, though there are enough clearings and packed-dirt to make the way to the top easy enough, with the exception of the slope. The final off-trail scramble requires about 250 feet of elevation gain before reaching the peak, where a butte of shaved granite rocks stand stoically above the distant Tahoe basin beneath.
From the peak, Cascade Lake can be seen to the northeast, and the northern end of Fallen Leaf Lake is visible to the east. Gilmore and Dick's Lake are visible in the Desolation backcountry to the south, and Velma Lakes can be seen to the west. Cascade Falls is audible in the canyon below, and the Tahoe rim's tallest peaks, Freel Peak, Jobs Peak and Mount Rose, are all visible towering around the blue waters of the lake. Take some time to breathe it in and reward yourself following that climb, then retrace your path to the trailhead.
The parking area at the trailhead is small and fills up quickly. If you find it full, you may be required to park off of Highway 89, which adds about a quarter mile of walking each direction to your distance. Do not park in the camping area unless you pay for a campsite.
Outhouses are available at the parking area. The nearest drinking water is at Inspiration Point across Highway 89 from the Bayview Trailhead road.