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The Desolation Wilderness is within the Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, in El Dorado County, California. The crest of the Sierra Nevada is found here. This wildernes area is in the Sierra Mountain range where rugged natural wonders rule. Alpine lakes, boat-in campgrounds, and bald eagles are just a few of the amazing things that await visitors. The lowest elevation in the park is about 4,000 feet and Pyramid Peak reaches up to 9,700 feet. At these elevations, weather can change quickly and cold can set in. Campers, hikers, and snowshoers should be prepared with adequate clothing, water, and (optionally) mace for any potential bear or mountain lion encounters (although these are very rare). One good option is to make a stop at the ranger station in Fresh Pond on your way in to pick up a free wilderness permit and get the latest wilderness conditions. In winter, day permits are available at the Pacific Ranger Station near Pollock Pines. Day use is not subject to fees or limited by quota, while overnight use has a quota from from the Friday before Memorial Day through September 30 of each year. 30% of the quota is available first-come, first-serve the day of entry and may not be reserved ahead of time, while the other 70% can be reserved at recreation.gov While many California parks can be full of visitors, Desolation Wilderness truly lives up to it's name, giving visitors the freeing feeling of being out in the wild. This wilderness is also dog friendly, and overnight camping is free and easy to come by. As a huge plus, poison oak does not grow at these elevations, so you can relax a bit more while spending time off trail. Kayaking on Echo Lakes, off road driving west from Lake Tahoe, or basking in Horsetail Falls and Bassi Falls after a good snowy season are just a few of the adventures you can choose from.

hiking
2 days ago

I loved everything about this trail. It's right behind Emerald Bay and you can view the Vikingsholm at the bottom. The drive alone was worth it. The trail was easily accessible even with the snow. It lead to Eagle Lake which was entirely frozen over. The trip took about an 1.5 hrs, and we took our time and made a few stops! Really enjoyed this trail and would love to do it again.

hiking
28 days ago

This was a beautiful and fairly easy trail. Most of the beginning is uphill, with lots of stone steps that are covered in icy snow right now. We got lucky because the trail was fairly easy to see even though it had just snowed the day before. The lake is completely frozen over right now, so it’s definitely a beautiful sight. Would highly recommend!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike / snowshoe if you're up for an adventure and don't mind route finding to make it happen. The views of the SIerras from the top are impressive as are those of the adjacent peaks / ridge lines which look incredible in snow. Little tricky to follow the established route and it differs a bit from what you'll see in most maps currently.

Current conditions: Snow starts a few hundred feet into the trail and becomes consistent around 1,500' up. The final climb was partially covered and required careful attention to avoid postholing around the rocks -- descended down the backside for deeper snow. Slopes were pretty solid in the morning (just shy of needing to put on traction) but soft by noon for turns or snowshoes.

Route: Park right past the highway sign a few minutes outside Strawberry (*may not be acceptable with snow on the road*) and walk up a few hundred yards to reach the "trailhead" which is little more than a footpath in the dirt. Take note of where you cross the stream as it's tricky to track on the return.

hiking
1 month ago

We walked this trail last summer with our little ones in the backpack carriers. It was beautiful and the lake itself was perfect for the babies to play in.

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

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike with views of Tahoe and Eagle Lake. The lake itself was still frozen and was stable to walk out on. The trail has some extremely icy patches, with the worst section right after the bridge crossing at Eagle Falls - make sure you have hiking boots and take it carefully!

Very beautiful hike,but need to be careful with icy paths.

hiking
1 month ago

12/29/17- Solo hiked this route at 7am and finished by 12pm. I clocked 7.4miles RT with 4,200ft gain. The route was clear of snow up to mile 1.4~, then you hit thin hard pack. Snow was fairly hard pack up to the summit. Follow the cairns the whole way. Only wore boots w/gaiters, thermal top, beanie, soft shell pants and thin gloves. Used poles for the gain/lose.

Make sure to wear micro-spikes or similar if you’re doing a winter hike. It gets icy! Worth it to go to the vista and out to the lake, but you’re asking for a broken arm if you don’t have spikes!

hiking
2 months ago

I will never forget this as it was my first ever and favorite hike. It was breathtaking every step of the way!

Beautiful hike. A bit icy in parts making some parts a bit treacherous. I guess that's one (only) advantage of a dry December that you can get to experience this area. Once it starts snowing the road can be closed. Amazing views on Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, and this entrance to the Desolation Wilderness. Hockey players were enjoying the lake in the am but right now I wouldn't go out on the ice after midday.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike. There are some icy parts now (mid Dec) - but the extra caution in those areas is well worth taking for the view of the lake. Ice skaters were enjoying the lake as well. Don’t be put off by the numerous cars - most visitors don’t go beyond the entry to the park.

Beautiful!

backpacking
2 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.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful! Well worth it. Definitely going again.

backpacking
3 months ago

Went September 2017. Easy hike to the lakes. Even if you get off trail there’s tons of cairns to always help out. Got hailed on but it quickly dried up!Too windy to fly fish. Lots of off trail explorations with easy exposed granite as access.Mosquitoes not a problem due to constant low mph wind.

hiking
3 months ago

Views every step of the way

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

3 months ago

Good and easy go.

3 months ago

Great

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