hiking

views

lake

forest

backpacking

camping

nature trips

birding

walking

wild flowers

wildlife

dogs on leash

trail running

dog friendly

river

waterfall

fishing

snowshoeing

no dogs

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
19 hours 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.

hiking
1 day 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.

Wonderful hike - but be forewarned that the long stretches of sunny talus are especially hard on canine feet. We foolishly left the dog booties at home and had to ditch out early once we realized our pup was hurting. Seemed like most - maybe all? - dogs were struggling, even one dog who did have booties. A rookie mistake on our part.

That said, we did get to sleep at Aloha under a new moon coinciding with the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, so that was pretty special. The northern horizon was obscured, but plenty of diamond streaks overhead.

hiking
3 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.

hiking
5 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

this thing just kicked my ass. I'm not in great shape but was able to do it, but hardest hike I've ever done period!

hiking
9 days ago

Extraordinary hike which will keep your heart rate elevated for a couple hours. Trail leads you through breathtaking scenery and a variety of terrain. From woodland, through intimate shrubbery to dirt packed mountain and last but the least the last stretch up the big boulder climb only for the bold. Peak at 4k elevation offers a spectacular 360 view into the valleys and blue lakes. Inspired by the view you will find a green ammo box at peak where you can leave the deepest of your thoughts only to be read by those who conquer the Pyramid. Heading down do not let your guard down the boulders are unforgiving. Kicking up dust while hiking back to your car, ham strings, calf’s and glutes begin to anticipate the comfort of your car seats. Driving home exhausted but still alive you will be feeling a sense of accomplishment because you just conquered a difficult trail! Have fun and stay safe fellow hikers.

A short hike to a beautiful lake to swim in.

backpacking
10 days ago

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

hiking
11 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.

12 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.

hiking
12 days ago

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

backpacking
12 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

backpacking
15 days ago

Great hike to the top, even greater hike to reach Lake Aloha from the peak. We parked at the Pyramid Creek trial head and started to trek towards the Pyramid Peak trail. Took us a few hours to reach the summit. Views were awesome cept for all the smokiness. From the top of the peak we started climbing down going north west toward lake Aloha and man oh man did the hike get tougher. Your climbing down nothing but loose boulders for the longest time. There were some areas were you can slide down the snow and refill your water from the fresh snow melt. Took us 4hrs to get to Lake Aloha but it was worth it.

hiking
16 days ago

Summited the peak today (7/30) with my dogs, started Monday off right. Certainly an uphill battle. The hike it’s self isn’t enjoyable but the summit has great views, would be better if it wasn’t so smoky. The rock scramble to the top is as easy as walking up stairs... both my dogs followed with ease. If you don’t plan on summiting, don’t bother with the hike.

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!

hiking
17 days ago

Awesome hike but if a novice hiker or out of shape and also plan on doing it as a day hike, plan a very long day.

It is such a beautiful hike, and the meadows were filled with an array of flowers. The lake is just gorgeous and very welcoming for a swim. While heading over to the dam was blessed to see a beaver on the trail too. The trail had a variety of terrain from sandy, rocky, and granite.

hiking
17 days ago

Beautiful hike along a well maintained trail. Gilmore Lake is perfect for an overnight backpacking trip. Several areas have obviously been used for camping over time and work as makeshift campsites. The lake is crystal clear and full of fish.

hiking
17 days ago

Difficult but rewarding. The beginning of the trail has a very steep grade. The final ascent to the summit includes climbing up large boulders that require high focus to maneuver over safely. The view from the top is absolutely amazing. The entire trip took approximately 5 hours with occasional breaks along the way.

hiking
17 days ago

Nice mix of terrain but not much shade and can get hot, lakes and creek are nice place to cool off. On my trip to Island Lake we didn't see a lot of places to easily relax by the lake but we didn't explore all around the lake either. As others have stated, picking up the trail on the granite sections may be more difficult for newer hikers.

hiking
17 days ago

My only complaint is the amount of morning sun ! Trailhead is an additional mile from parking area that the app doesn’t count. There were some beautiful waterfalls and streams along the way.

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