wild flowers



nature trips

trail running



dog friendly

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.

Falls were raging in late June '17!!

Falls were raging in late June '17!!

2 days ago

My boyfriend and I really enjoyed this hike! Remember to get a (free) day pass so that you can hike to Eagle Lake/Desolation Wilderness. We took the trail right and headed towards the vista point first. We then retraced our steps back to the trail and continued to the Lake. The lake was gorgeous! Cold from melting mountain snow but nice. Retrace again to continue the loop. You get some great views of the mountains and a few waterfalls along the way.
I wasn't happy about the plastic water bottles in hard-to-reach places so please, no more plastic bottles! If you take it with you, bring it back out of the park!

A lot of family's hiking this trail. Overall great experience and great views.

Beautiful hike to the waterfall, there is a lot of water flowing right now! Amazing views of Emerald Bay! We went early before the crowds, if go after 10am expect tons of people and difficulty parking!

3 days ago

4 days ago

Beautiful hike along a waterfall runoff. The end result at Eagle Lake is amazing and peaceful.

5 days ago

Did a 2 day overnight 6/16-17. Beautiful but expect to find plenty of snow on your hike. The hike is 100% snow from the end of upper echo lake on. Highly suggest a GPS unless you know the area well, the trail can be tough to find at times. The snow does make it pretty easy to adventure off to the different lakes around.

Camped in the middle of Lake Aloha on a little island since it's completely frozen, highly recommend if you can handle the snow!

Steep and snowy, the one creek crossing was thigh high and moving fast, but doable. Lots of walking in snow. Strenuous and worth while hike.

6 days ago

I hiked this on 6/16/17 overnight. There is still a tremendous amount of snow and ice on the ground. We encountered patchy snow from the back of Echo Lake, and about half way up the incline we went to crampons... it was 100% snow onward. Passable, but bring appropriate footwear and clothing, and a GPS, as the trail is not marked. Beautiful country!

9 days ago

Beautiful place....clean clear water, feel like get in to the water but super cold. Great place for a short hike.

Beautiful alpine lake! I found it a bit crowded, however.

11 days ago

Get your Billy goat legs on! This is a great hike!