Explore Desolation Wilderness - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Desolation Wilderness Map
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backpacking
1 month ago

Completely echo everything Lisa mentions below. Very slick at points on the way down and have to hike through thick brush. Fun hike but took longer than expected because the trail was fairly unmarked and unmaintained.

This was a nice hike with a variety of terrain: quiet wooded trail (North/Northwest), steep and rocky (West), and paved road along nice cabins (South/Southeast). As others have noted it can be hard to follow in places. Specifically about half way around the West side we lost the trail and you eventually find a paved road going past the firehouse and other cabins. Also about half way around the East side you leave the road and walk through some private property to again find the trail. It’s really helpful to have an offline map downloaded on your phone to stay on track.

There was a little bit of packed snow and ice in places but otherwise conditions were very good.

I think the instructions for accessing the trail may be wrong. The map shows you should start about a mile past the CalTrans station, in a parking lot that is inaccessible in winter. Looked beautiful though!

hiking
2 months ago

Such a beautiful and tranquil place! It took me 1.5hrs to hike 2mi. Not because it was difficult- by any means- but, because I kept stopping to soak in the beauty of the environment! Listening to dogs splash in the water, ducks quacking, birds chirping, dip my toes in the cold lake water and filled my lungs with fresh mountain air! It was amazing. Not too many people, either. The trail itself was all parts snowy, muddy, dry, contained puddles, etc. I did this hike in tights and hiking shoes. Definitely recommend if you want to have quiet day hike.

snowshoeing
2 months ago

I went around the lake on 1/28/18. I was hopeful about the snow from a couple days prior but had to take my snowshoes off after about 10 minutes. There’s not enough snow for them to be necessary. This lake is a gem, you don’t have to hike long before seeing amazing views! Definitely recommend!

Great lil hike, brought my 8 year old son on his first two nighter backpacking trip and granted some of the uphill realllyy wore on him, I prepared ahead and planned to carry his tiny lil backpack for him for parts of the way. Dogs allowed, but definitely no fires allowed. Was out there for a meteor shower and while I didn’t see anything, it was beautiful at night

Great trail. Decently challenging, but the destination is rewarding. We spent our first night at Aloha, and the next 4 at Susie

Beautiful hike but as others have said below - the trail is not marked. Starting at the trailhead and going counter clockwise, we made it all the way around the lake in 3 hours, but we were going pretty fast as the sun was going down. A little icy in some parts but once you get to the road past the rock gullies/creek it's all a road. Would be a better hike in summer.

I loved this trail, I definitely plan on going again. The scenery is beautiful! Worth every burning step.

Beautiful!

Wasn't able to do entire walk due to hail storm but locals told me last winter kinda ruined the trail so we double backed on the road. Bummed we didn't do the entire hike but had 6yr old with me so overall awesome day. was able to eat ice cream, rent a kayak and play on the beach before the storm. Tried to wait out storm but was getting late. People at the store gave us trash bags to start our hike back and offered to find us a ride. On our way back a gentleman from public works dept gave us a ride back in. Little crazy but overall awesome day and made some great memories with my little one.

backpacking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike along the PCT. Unfortunately the trail right before Tamarack Lake was covered in about 2 feet of snow. Not knowing this, we only had hiking boots. Ended up camping the night at Tamarack Lake which was just as gorgeous and isolated.

trail running
4 months ago

Grand views, especially now when the mountains are just crusted with snow. The trail really isn’t that hard to follow - you follow the blue markings on the trees. There are some forks in the trail but as long as you stay close to the lake you won’t get lost. I only went 2.5 miles in (5 miles round-trip) because the trail was blocked by private property. Apparently if you go right (near the fire house) the trail picks up again, but really it’s fine just turning around there.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful! Well worth it. Definitely going again.

Love this trail. Get a camping permit and stay the night to really enjoy this lake.

The trial is easy. You walk around the beautiful lake with peace and harmony.

Beautiful any time of the year. Can't wait to come back in the spring.

Great views, but poorly marked trail.

hiking
5 months ago

Easy trail ! Beautiful, end of October 2017

backpacking
6 months ago

Definitely a must do trail. Although late October there wasn't much of the lake left. It had snowed two days before which made the hike beautiful. The Sunny Trail along echo Lakes in the partially Snow covered mount Ralston across the other side was incredible. The hike is a little rocky in areas stiff sold shoes are nice. Because of the snow and warm weather it made for some soggy trail, I'd advise waterproof boots for the hike. Nice warm days but in the 20s at night. Brrrrr

One of the most beautiful Lakes in Desolation. A favorite destination. Climb the peak at the north end of the lake with the lone pine tree on top for a spectacular view of Lake Aloha and Lake of the Woods.

Trail was very nice but I lost my ray-Bans on the way down :(

Fairly easy hike if you are in good shape. My friend and I decided to hike up to Melissa Coray Peak after setting up camp around the eastern side (towards Round Top) which was fairly tough and very rocky, no real trail except for a few rock stackings that hikers have placed. Going around the western ridge is much easier and advised as its less rocky and there are trails leading most of the way to the top. The lake itself was nice and clear but cold, it did get fairly windy during the night but nothing too bad. However, the morning was extremely calm with a few birds chirping around the lake. The streams leading towards Caples from Emigrant were not as active and many of the plants and flowers were dead (late in the year). Looking to going back during the peak summer months for warmer temperatures to dip into the freezing water and to look at the beautiful wildflowers.

Love it, not strenuous. Actual mileage 9.1 miles. Emigrant lake beautiful

backpacking
6 months ago

Beautiful hike, i did a backpacking trip in desolation and stopped here one of the nights. Flowers were blooming and very lush this time of year. Also stopped at zatela and four q.

6 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous!

The trail itself starting from Caples lake is mostly fairly generic forest trail. If Caples lake is still, you can see pretty nifty reflections. Should get a little closer to the lake to see some pretty sights. After the lake ends, it's a fairly steep hike for about a mile and a half. Maybe because I went in September, I didn't see any "waterfalls" as others mentioned. There were some unremarkable streams along the way. Emigrant lake is really beautiful. But again it would be much prettier in early summer with more snow on the mountains in the back. Moral: visit earlier in summer not in September.

hiking
6 months ago

Absolutely amazing! Beautiful scenery, dog friendly, multiple lakes to hike to! The parking at echo lake is packed so show up early! We encountered at lot of other hikers along the trail, but once we reached Lake Aloha we basically had the lake to ourselves! Would definitely do this hike again :)

We only had a couple hours to hike so we did an out and back, nice mix of rolling hills and foliage. Not too busy but we did see a few other hikers.

Went up via Glen Alpine, great little hike. Was surprised to see so much water still, the falls were running strong! Here's to another great winter!

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