hiking

forest

views

lake

wildlife

wild flowers

camping

backpacking

nature trips

trail running

birding

walking

dog friendly

dogs on leash

river

waterfall

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.

backpacking
1 day ago

Great little lake. Visited with friend on 6/34/17 and 6/25/17 from Fallen Leaf Lake at the Glen Alpine TH. The trail was free of snow until around 7800-8000 feet, or near the crest of the final ascent to Gilmore lake. We chose this route as it is trail is mainly southern facing and much freer of snow than Lake Aloha, Suzie, or Heather. We were able to day-hike, free of snow, to the Dick's pass area. Gilmore Lake however is still 80% frozen on the surface, and NO camp sites were visible. We camped on the other side of the old dam, on one of the only thawed plots of land available. Very doable right now, just not much area to camp, yet! Route to Tallac mostly covered in deep snow.

Easy and fun! Water is so cold and so refreshing! Highly recommend especially during the week when there are less people about.

We went yesterday, June 24th. We had to park in the lower parking lot as the recreation area that takes you to the trailhead was still closed. That added about 3 miles round trip.

The trail wasn't very well marked after you get out of the forest and into the heavy granite area. Missed it several times. Was a decent hike that I would call moderate thanks to the extra mileage we added. Physically, we are 40+years old and we're athletes 15 years ago. We are still active but by no means athletes... (so many reviews that talk of difficulty level, you have no idea of the condition of the hiker)

Scenery was nice. Not much wildlife. Still a bunch of snow on the ground. Enough to have a snowball fight with our son and build a 3' snowman. Would not want to do it in another month.

Could not make it all the way to Aloha lake. Lost the trail in snow a half mile past the Tamarack trail. Beautiful hike but very wet. The trail is a running stream at several points. 90% in the sun. Poles would have been nice.

Quick and fun hike! Bring some snacks and towels to spend some time at Eagle lake :)

backpacking
2 days ago

Did an overnight trip to Lake of the Woods on June 23rd. Beautiful trail but expect mostly snow about 0.5 miles after the turn off to Tamarak Lake. Snowshoes would probably be nice but we made it all the way to LotW with boots and some ice cleats/coils. Make sure to have some sort of GPS since the trail isn't visible. There was a lot of water before the snow, including running water down the middle of the trail. Waterproof boots made it doable. Lake of the Woods was still mostly frozen with a few feet of snow on it. Looking forward to future trip reports to see how long this snow lasts!

backpacking
2 days ago

Absolutely beautiful. If you can make it up to Velma Lake as well, I would highly recommend it. The snow made it even more fun.

Hard hike, well worth it in the end - Beautiful snow melt lake. Bet you can't get in.

hiking
3 days ago

Falls were raging in late June '17!!

Falls were raging in late June '17!!

hiking
4 days ago

hiking
5 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.

hiking
5 days ago

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!

hiking
6 days ago

hiking
6 days ago

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

backpacking
8 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!