The hike to Azure Lake begins at the Bayview Campground (CA Hwy 89) across from Inspiration Point. This is also the trailhead for the Cascade Falls Trail which we decided to do in the afternoon. A wilderness permit is required for this hike into Desolation Wilderness and is readily available at the trail head.
Any confidence I might have developed as a result of yesterday’s hike quickly evaporated 1/4 of a mile up this steep (did I say steep? Really, really steep!) trail. The trail goes up the side of Maggie’s Peak into Desolation. I had the slowest time for the mile since climbing Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail. It was brutal, I stopped every 20 feet to catch my breath and my friends ambled forth. Then I felt guilty for holding them up which probably didn’t help the breathing at all! In the first mile you reach Granite Lake and our climb was 600 feet. The views were incredible!
We hiked another 1/2 mile thinking we would find the unmaintained trail to Azure Lake. We never did. We saw the lake in the distance and started to cross country down to it realising I had to climb back up and we were under a mild time constraint. We paused for a quick lunch and continued down the trail rewarded yet by more fabulous views. I always know how steep a trail really is by the downhill. Yep, this one was.
The best hiking weather! Lots of shade on the trail. Garmin told me we hiked a distance of 5.69 miles to an elevation of 8,456 feet and a gain of 1,400 feet. A great hike.