Explore the most popular fishing trails in Desolation Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Challenging. Start early in the day. Expect to lose the trail several times and backtrack. Be cautious when heading back down, as it is easy to get off trail and onto a steep ledge, ... then difficult getting back on trail.

6 days ago

If you aren’t afraid to take a couple knee-deep steps into snow, keep going to Lake Aloha. The last 1.5-2 miles is snow, but I did it in my trail running shoes. The trail is well-marked from many hikers making this trek. The lake is frozen but beautiful!

17 days ago

Started today at lower Echo Lake, with intentions of Aloha and back. Made it to about Tamarack and had to turn around. Trail is very Wet, which not a problem, some snowpack still but hard enough to walk across. Got to just pass Tamarack turn off and stepped into some snow and fell knee deep. Tons of snowmelt, but still an awesome hike! SO close to being ready! Saw about 10 other hikers out. Parking lot was clear enough, even cars.

Solitude seekers may already be second-guessing themselves when they pull up to the Velma-Eagle Lakes parking lot, often bloated with drivers frantically looking for a spot, international visitors, and idle North Face sportswear types posing for photos at the sign (oh yeah, I totally just went there). Note: You are allowed to park along the road in some spots. $5.00 fee needed for day-use during the on-season.

Appearances can be deceiving, fortunately. The hassle to find a parking spot and navigate crowds early on is well worth the hike. The amount of people will drastically go down after you cross a bridge which is about 0.5 miles along the trail. (Let's say 100 visitors are on the entire trail. After the bridge it will be 20. Then after a full mile maybe 10). The reason for this is that the elevation gain is a butt buster right at the start, though a well-marked trail and stone steps help accommodate.

I did this when there was lots of snow and completing the full loop is a challenge, largely because the trail is often buried. I diverged, half intentionally, and ascended a ridge a few miles in, with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake at the top. Others happened to be up there as well, and they seemed to be improvising their navigation too.

Give yourself plenty of time in the day if you intend to do the whole loop. Plan carefully before venturing off into the snow (Nov-May).

Did this yesterday, 2/18/2018. The trail starts off slow along the stream. Then at the base of the waterfall there's not much of a trail, go your own way, It's a rock scramble up the side of the waterfall. Not too difficult, but very fun. Then you reach the first lake/pond. There was snow up at this elevation. Great views of the valley, Pyramid Peak, and Ralston Peak.

The way down though... huge pain scrambling down the waterfall. I got stuck twice where I had to then scramble back up about 100' the come down a different route. I tried coming down literally along the waterfall. Bad idea. I suggest going over to the waterfall for some photos, but then go lateral back away from the waterfall. Dont try going down the waterfall.


5 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.

6 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.

7 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

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

7 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.

7 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous!

Very beautiful views, crystalclear lakes, nice nature. The climb takes long (3h with little breaks) for a non-experienced hiker. The descent is very steap and took us 1h, because we were in a hurry due to the sunset.
We only made the first loop, which apparentely is the harder one.
Only critical point: the last 20min along the street. This is not nice and kind of dangerous.
Recommendation: start towards eagle lake - very nice climb, I guess nicer than towards granite lake.

7 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 :)

One of the best hikes I did near Tahoe area. If you are doing the loop just as AllTrails, make sure you plan early. This one can be a long hike with so many scenic points that one day feels to be on a tight schedule. I did the loop starting from Bayview trail and ending at Eagle creek trailhead.
If you are climbing from Eagle falls side, be aware that its somewhat steep compared to Granite Lake side. Rest assured, the views at Dicks Lake and Fontanillis Lake make up very much for the effort. Would like to plan a backpacking trip next year just before snow completely melts away. Definitely one of the top hikes near South Lake Tahoe.

Fantastic views. Did it just after the first snow. A bit cool but a wonderful backpacking trip with my daughter.

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!

Let me start off that finding the beginning of this trail is a huge pain! So to help go to the right of the first hill. After that, this trail was nothing but fun! Once you get to the base of the falls there are multiple ways up, just pick your own adventure. Can't wait to go farther next time.

8 months ago

Hiked here from Aloha Lake - ~10 mi round trip. Steep climb up to the lake, but lovely little lunch spot. Had hoped to summit to Mt Tallac but had to turn back due to the time. Plenty of spots to camp around if you get up here!

8 months ago

The hikes in & out each took us ~3.5 hours with our heavy packs - similar to others' reports, my phone reported 5.7 miles in but 7.7 miles out. Unclear precisely how far it is. While many folks seem to report too many campers around Aloha, we couldn't see any other camps from our spot and only occasionally saw people walking around the lake. Was a great (chilly at night time!) retreat for the weekend. Great spot to jump off to other parts of the PCT or Desolation Wilderness as well - we took a day hike up to Gilmore Lake. Trails are all very clearly marked, though tiring on the ankles & hips as much of it is loose rock.

8 months ago

Lake Aloha is SO beautiful, making this rocky hike very much worth the effort. The water taxi stops running after Labor Day, so there's no way to shorten the distance, but it's still very doable. The trail is clearly marked and straightforward. There are also maps you can pick up near the trailhead. I'd recommend hiking shoes/boots for this hike rather than sneakers because much of it is very rocky and I was glad to have the support from my boots. The water temperature seemed perfect for swimming, but it was a cloudy day so we didn't end up going in. I'd love to return next summer to backpack because the lake is so gorgeous and it was sad to leave!

8 months ago

beautiful, well worth it.

great alpine views and swimming

8 months ago

Absolutely stunning hike - Day hike or overnight. I hiked beyond Aloha, up and over Dick's Pass to Fontanillis Lake - stopping at Susie lake on the first night. Stunning views the entire trail. Wild flowers, lake views all along the trail. I stopped at Aloha 1 night and Lake of the Woods on m fourth night. Took a day hike to Ropi Lake on an unmaintained trail but was able to follow trail with AllTrails app on my phone.

This is a tough hike but the payoff is worth every step! We found a beautiful meadow to camp at and didn't hear or see anyone! Pure bliss! Caught fish!

Amazing, there is water everywhere!!

Challenging climb to the very top. Amazing experience. Mesmerizing views all the way up!

Did this last week as a solo overnighter, I included a summit of Dicks Peak on the second day. Trail starts out steep all the way to Granite Lake, then levels off for a minute before climbing again steeply toward Maggie's Peak. It's a beautiful area but in the summer this section of the trail can be an absolute zoo! Once above the switchbacks the people traffic dropped off sharply and it seemed a pretty quick trek down and over to the Velma Lakes. I didn't see a trail heading to lower Velma but if you have a map and even an average sense of direction it's an easy find.

After checking out lower Velma I continued on to Middle Velma and then up to Fontanillis Lake for the night to camp. There didn't seem to be much in the way of open space around the lake but I probed around a bit on the west side and found a beautiful spot to set up. A breathtaking view and good fishing to boot! Even in August there wasn't a single other person around that I saw.

After waking early I continued onto the intersection with the PCT. This is where my hike detoured a bit as I wanted to bag Dicks Peak while I was out there. After stashing my pack I headed up and over Dicks Pass. Even if you aren't heading up the mountain, a trip over the pass itself is amazing: endless views in all directions! Dicks Peak via Dicks Pass is certainly not for the casual hiker; requiring some steep hard class III scrambling over very loose rock. I would absolutely not recommend trying to take a dog up here.

After a difficult false summit I made the top and the views were the best I've seen from any Peak in Desolation. You're smack dab in the middle of everything so everything from Round Top to Pyramid Peak to Freel and beyond is on show here. Spectacular and worth the extra effort!

The way back was a bit of a blur as I hadn't gotten too much sleep the night before, but I was back at my truck by 6pm.

The Eagle Lake and Bayview trailheads are probably my least favorite to access the Desolation Wilderness, but that's solely because of the very high amount of traffic they get. However, as with all things Desolation, once you get a few miles in you're very much on your own.

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