dogs on leash
Waterfalls, alpine lakes, crashed aircraft, boat-in camping & bald eagles are just a few things found in these mountains Desolation Wilderness is an area in the Sierra Mountain range where natural beauty abounds. The elevation ranges from roughly 4,000 ft. to roughly 9,700 ft (Pyramid Peak). The weather can be extreme and flash storms happen unexpectedly. Camping, hiking, snowshoeing and rock crawling are just a few examples of the outdoor activities that we enjoy here in "Desolation". If you're used to the big city you'll find Desolation to be a freeing experience. This wild open area has few rules by comparison to most of California. It's pet friendly and you can plunk down camp in many waterside locations without paying a dime or dealing with neighbors. The elevation is above where poison oak grows and this means bush whacking is a little less worrisome. Ample lakes and trails can make for a whole lot of entertainment. Trail hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and motorcycle touring are some of the most popular. The Rubicon is a trail that runs west from the Lake Tahoe shore and 4X4 drivers seem to have a blast there. Day hikes can be coupled with kayaking in places like Wrights's Lake, Loon Lake and Echo Lakes. In the spring, roughly March through May, snow melts in the high country and creates majestic waterfalls throughout this region. Horsetail falls and Bassi Falls are two of the best. In Tell's Creek, just off Icehouse Rd., there are remnants of a crashed B-17 that's a bit spooky to see. Paved bike trails span a portion of Union Reservoir and this provides a very fast way to see a large piece of the wilderness with a few hours of riding. A weekend in Desolation Wilderness can be a very affordable way to get away for a while. Be sure to visit the ranger station in Fresh Pond on your way up. You can get a free campfire permit here along with the latest printed information pamphlets for the area. The folks who work there can even help you plan your trip into this wonderful backcountry area. Tips Breaking an ankle or wondering into an area that you're unfamiliar with can mean an unexpected overnighter in the woods. Freak weather changes and even wild animals can create survival challenges for people and their pets. Having communication systems like radios and cell phones that are fully charged can make all the difference in getting to safety after an emergency situation in Desolation. Hazards: Mountain lions, bears, and coyotes rarely attack people but carrying a bit of pepper spray may help you feel more confident if you're confronted. Avalanches, whiteout snow storms and heavy rain storms can leave you cold and wet. Slippery granite near waterfalls have caused injury and death. Unlike in the Mokelumne Wilderness, cell phones actually work in Desolation Wilderness. There are cell phone towers on top of Big Hill and locations from Ice House rd over to Wright's Lake get excellent reception (at least with AT&T). At Loon Lake cell phones become useless though. When all else fails, an amateur radio license and a decent portable HAM radio can be a life saver. If you're a licensed HAM then you can use the 2 meter, 146.805 repeater in the event of emergency. An alternative to ham radios are the Garmin Rino series GPS/radio combinations. They will allow you to communicate with your group and even send your GPS coordinates to each other.
This was our first big hike back in August I suggest leaving early in the morning. We made it in 5 hours 15 minutes and we stopped enjoyed the views and had lunch. It's definitely worth the trip. The highlight of our trip to Tahoe. We will do it again next time we are here.
Did this hike roughly two weeks ago. The gate to the Wrights Lake Recreation Area was already closed for the season, but you can still access the trails by parking at the gate and walking in. Because of this, there were very few people on the trails. Beyond the Rockbound/Tyler trail junction I had the trail completely to myself, and did not see anyone else the entire day.
The trail itself was fairly flat for the first 2-miles, with a couple decent uphill sections in the last couple of miles.
If you make to the hike to Gertrude, I would highly advise tacking on Tyler Lake as well. There is no established trail leading up to Tyler Lake (at least I didn't see one), but it is fairly easy to find. Just be mindful on your way back down as it is fairly difficult to retrace your steps.
I did this last several years ago. A short, aggressive trail with a huge payoff when you reach the peak. Basically a stair master so make sure you're ready for a very challenging hike before you go. If you make good time it can be a relatively quick one...back in time for siesta ;)