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

Gorgeous lake, easy trail at campground. Great birdwatching area, I saw Western Tanagers. Can be crowded at times.

Beautiful views and waterfalls! The trail was tough to follow at a couple spots. watch for logs and rocks that help guide you. We started about 8:30 am. By the time we were heading down it had gotten pretty crowded, but the way up was peaceful.

1 day ago

Wonderful hike that hugs Echo Lake and then ascends to Lake Aloha, which is big and offers many islands to swim to. At the end of summer, I was still able to see snow on the surrounding mountains, and the reflection of the trees and clouds on the crystal clear water was beautiful. Much of the hike is on rocks, so wear sturdy shoes.

Granite lake is such a beautiful lake. The reflection of surrounding trees on the green-blue water was spectacular. The extra hour or so hike from granite lake to Maggie's peaks was also totally worth it because from the top, I could see Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, Granite Lake, and two other lakes. We also saw an eagle fly upwards what we hiked for 2 hours in 10 seconds. This was overall a very impressive hike. Definitely elevation gain involved.

This hike is very beautiful with lots of trees, places near the river to rest, and of course the waterfall. The trail is poorly marked but there is a dirt path that starts from the Tahoe basin sign that first directs you into the parking lot and that leads all the way up. Lots of granite slabs to climb, and if you lose the trail, it's mostly fine as long as you aim towards the waterfall. Along the way you should pass the desolation wilderness trailhead, and that trail is fairly easy to follow.

2 days ago

Took the water taxi, so 12 km of hiking on rocky paths from the Upper Echo Lake to the Lake Aloha.
Beautiful Lake Aloha but water level very slow, so didn’t get into the water.
Lake the Woods is awesome and better for swimming for today.

Difficult when hiking up from Lake the Woods back to the Pacific Crest Trail towards Echo Lake, high altitude causing low oxygen, this part will take a longer and certain persons may feel bad (as I did).

Be aware: 50 cents for the public phone for the return boat call.

Loved this backpack trip. Did a slight detour up to gilmore lake for lunch then back on trail to Half moon. Fairly steady incline the whole way there, so if you like hiking up with little relief this is your trail. Had place to ourself and actually camped at Alta Morris, a bit of scrambling to get to alta and loss of trail but geographic markers and following edge of half moon lake helped with direction across granite boulders. Alta was well worth it, had the whole lake to ourselves, saw two couples in the distance the whole weekend.

2 days ago

Hike was easy with limited moderate spots. Just beautiful but what can I say, it is Tahoe! Go early to secure a parking spot.

just beautiful.

Third time we have been on the trail over the past twelve years. Love it! Serenity up in the mountains.

5 days ago

Great view at the end. Take an invigorating shower under the small waterfall. Be prepared for lots of rubble.

Truly gorgeous with lots of people but enough cool spots to get some alone time if like me you were looking for that. I spent a night at Tamarack Lake midway between the trailhead at Echo Lake and Aloha because I couldn’t get a permit to camp at Aloha on my first night. It was kind of nice that it forced me to go slower and appreciate another lake in the area. But you could easily spend a few days near Aloha. Next time I’ll do Aloha on night 1 and go on to one of the other lakes further up the PCT from there for night 2. I’m no thru hiker and that’s good because I don’t feel compelled to blow through 30 miles of beauty in one day.

I did this as my first day and night in Desolation Wilderness. Short hike so I poked around for awhile after setting camp at Tamarack. Nice spot with crazy trees that I photographed for an hour before hanging out by the Lake processing water and meditating (aka napping).

Beautiful terrain that vacillated between forested shade and granite slabs to bouldering cascades at the top.

6 days ago

This trail is beautiful and thankfully, outside of being hazy for photos, the smoke was barely noticeable. Definitely plan for a long day hike... what slows you down is the constant rocky terrain. Most of the trail consists of walking on rocks. Bring proper shoes. A lot of exposed area so bring the sunblock. The wildflowers are everywhere and the lakes are stunning! Lake Aloha was a great lunch spot, but pretty windy and made it too chilly for a swim. Got in at Lake of the Woods it was perfect!

Beautiful hike! First gain is a challenge but the view at the top is well worth it. Stopped there for lunch then ventured on toward the Dick’s Lake and Fontanillis Lake round about and up to middle Velma. Set up camp and ate dinner at dusk. Photographs because my credit card background. Mosquitoes were a nightmare (4th of July weekend) and the trails were a bit more congested on the descent with lots of day hikers.

We were aiming for Aloha but decided to head down to Lake Of The Woods en route. So glad we did! Despite all the smoke from the CA fires, it was a beautiful lake that we pretty much had to ourselves :) I can’t wait to do it again on a clear day! Rocky trail would benefit from hiking poles....

Great trail with beautiful lake at the end. Due to time constraints we had to take water taxi both ways. The “drop phone” was not operational and we didn’t have the coins to call the taxi back after arriving back at the dock. Luckily we had one phone with enough bars to call from end of dock. Take 50cents if u want the ride back. Gets hot in exposed parts; bring plenty sunscreen! Great views of Sierra crest at lake aloha.

Great family hike. Takes about 30 minutes

11 days ago

Me and my wife did this trail this Saturday. There are big rocks on the trail, then after sometime there is gravely trail. It is hard with normal shoes because you have to put every step very carefully on the rocks so as not to slip. There is small waterfall at around 1 mile which is good to chill for a bit.

BONUS: Climb the rocks on the side of the waterfall and follow the stream, there is another pool filled with water worth seeing and dipping in. All in all a good experience.

PS. Do not park your car until you reach the parking lot at the trailhead, you might get lucky and find a parking right there. I saw some sedans climbing up that one lane road that leads up to the trailhead parking, so do not worry if you are not sure if your car will make it (I seriously though the road was small enough and filled with potholes that small sedans/hatchbacks cannot make it but I was wrong)!

Best hike by far perfect not too long! Lots of beautiful views! Love it!

A short hike to a beautiful lake to swim in.

12 days ago

Great trail not too difficult. Awesome place for a chill backpacking weekend

13 days ago

Loved it! It took us about 30 minutes to get to Eagle Lake and about 20 to get back down. It is a little strenuous in the beginning with lots of steps to climb but it’s a good, quick workout. The lake was warm enough to get into it and truly a hidden gem! It would be fun to take inflatable paddle boards and spend some time on the lake itself.

13 days ago

We’re from Texas. Elevation nothing. It was a gorgeous hike! We only hiked up to the lake, about 1.25 miles. However, we hiked around the lake to the other side over the little ridge there. Offers stunning views of Lake Tahoe. Worth the hike around the lake and up a little further.

13 days ago

Great little hike with a great swimming lake at the end.
Parking is problematic as the Emerald Bay hi way traffics terrible.

14 days ago

Beautiful, but there's a 600+ lb California Brown bear that's way to comfortable with people and knows how to bring down a properly hung bear bag.

Great not only dogs allowed but Lama’s

17 days ago

We went with our 3 boys and we only made it about 2 miles in. But if you stop about 1.2 miles in you will pass a small waterfall. There’s a red fire department bin, take this small trail to the waterfall. You can take a quick dip near the waterfall. However, my 6 y.o. discovered another awesome part of the waterfall! If you keep climbing up the rocks near the waterfall (if you are facing the waterfall it would be your 10 o’clock), It will lead you to the top of the waterfall. Follow the water upstream and you’ll find a small lagoon like area w another smaller waterfall. There’s a rock in the middle that you can use to jump off. A small secret spot that my family and I enjoyed. Many photo opportunities. One warning, we did see a small water snake under one of the rocks there but it didn’t bother us so we didn’t bother it! Other than that, uber chill spot off this trail but well worth the climb!

Such a wonderful hike;) I did this hike middle part of the day so I recommend wearing sunscreen since most part of the hike has no shade and wear a good hiking shoes for the rocky terrain:) I will definitely recommend this hike! Enjoy the scenery!

Load More