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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.

The road to the trailhead for this hike is closed this time of year, so park when you get to the locked gate and then either walk on the road or take a loop trail around Wright’s Lake to find the start of the trail. It’s really beautiful this time of year, and not very busy. The trail is hard to follow at times, but you can keep your bearings by the prominent peaks and rock formations, plus the cairns, as you hike. Highly recommend!

It wonderful trail. Took us about 45 mins walk wonderful view the lake

This was a very challenging hike all trails has it at 7 1/2 it’s closer to 10. There is a choice to make either to go to Tamarack Lake or head up to Loop, Trail it was a very fun hike lots of use. Admittedly in some areas I was lost all trails seemed to be lost as well.Fortunately we ran into a few other hikers and we lead the way down I would not recommend this hike if you were not in hiking shape we made it but nothing like no other choice lots of loose gravel and very dangerous areas once again a great hike we loved it had a great time again very challenging and it’s some parts very dangerous.

Nice easy to moderate hike with lovely views. A little busy on a Sunday but it was also a holiday weekend. Try to go early! No smoke from fires when we went today (11/11/2018)

4 days ago

We had to park about a half mile before the trail head. The gate is closed for the winter. The trail in was pretty nice. The lake was very low and a disappointment.
Some water and Lakes are starting to freeze over so watch the weather.
For some reason my phone decided to stop recording for a period of time.
Time for a new phone!

What a hidden gem! This hike was a gorgeous trek through Desolation Wilderness across huge slabs of sparkling granite. At this time of year, the lakes were frozen, but so clear you could see through to the bottom. The views were spectacular even though it was a bit smoky due to a wildfire elsewhere in California. The trail can be difficult to keep track of, especially in the open granite areas. Keep an eye out for cairns to mark the way. While it wasn’t too strenuous, there was some loose talus and shale, making me wish I had my trekking poles on the way down. It is clear that this area is popular in the peak season, so we were happy to have the trail almost entirely to ourselves!

5 days ago

Great hike

Absolutely gorgeous, the views are incredible throughout. The first two miles are definitely the hardest part and the rest of it has a good variety of uphill and downhill. The terrain is super varied which I loved and it switches between forests and rock piles. We did the trip in two days and it was amazing, I highly recommend.

6 days ago

Loved this trail, went during the off season and was able to have the trail to ourselves. Easy walk, beautiful views. Took us 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the furthest lake and around 3 hours (with side hikes) to complete. You can get this trail done in 2 hours if you go straight there and back.

went counter clockwise on the loop and definitely recommend having a GPS locator and offline maps so you can keep on the right trail. we made mistake of following some hot pink flags up when we got on the loop section which takes you too far left. maybe that is another trail but we managed to find our way back to the right trail with our GPS. tough but fun if you like a challenge. hot on a good section of the trail and did not see any reliable water sources so would recommend extra water on a hot/sunny day. some fun rock scrambles so make sure you are in shape for a little climbing in areas. recommend layers, as with most mountains the peak was windy and a bit chilly. exhausted at end but such a beautiful hike!!!

gorgeous hike and the lake is amazing! might have been because I went on a Saturday, but it was incredibly crowded all the way up and down. Still a good one!

on Eagle Lake Trail

13 days ago

Beautiful lake, fairly easy hike. The falls were dry so not much to see. Pleasant place to stop for lunch.

Great hike and lunch spot at lake.

Although not as immediately grand as Lake Aloha or Clyde Lake, Lake of the Woods is really just as beautiful and has the added bonus of feeling even more secluded and peaceful. Plus you can always add Lake Aloha to this hike as it isn't much further.

Probably the most beautiful lake in the Desolation Wilderness area. The stark, granite landscape and the crisp, blue waters of the lake make for a breathtaking sight.

beautiful views! Echo Lakes looked absolutely beautiful with no boats on the water! The "counter clockwise" trail was hard to find so we hiked it clockwise, wasn't that bad and you should anticipate losing the trail a couple of times. Also, we left rock towers next to the Counter clockwise entrance, you're welcome! ;)

This is the trail for everyone. If you have visitors from other places this is perfect. Short walk to the falls, short loop trail to Eagle lake, then longer hikes to Velma lake and others. Nice shaded hike and would be perfect for summer. There was a family out today and they had a 2 year old walking, a little one in a pack and were past Eagle lake. Not a lot of altitude for people from sea level as well. Fantastic scenery from every angle. The trail gets five stars, the management get a thumbs down (no permits available) maybe they just are not important. Costs 5$ to park.

The lake is breathtaking! The only caveat was that the hike is short but you can add on, and the crowds.

Prettythe whole way up and down with great views at the lake

28 days ago

Favorite hike of the year so far! I wouldn’t say it’s a difficult hike, more like moderate. The uneven rocks in the middle section will wear you out quick though. Views are amazing and once you get to Lake Aloha you’re totally secluded. We did take a wrong turn at the little loop near the end and it wound up being a short cut. Pay attention to the markers and your map because it’s not super well marked

THANK YOU to those who piled cairns/ducks, especially along 50. A great view awaits those that have the fortitude to climb the boulders at the top. We had no wind and the summit to ourselves.

1 month ago

My first hike EVER! It was tumultuous for me as an amateur but I pressed in and got to the beautiful Eagle Lake and it was totally worth it!!

Excellent hike and knock out views.

1 month ago

Tough trail. It’s all up hill to the peak then you have to climb boulders to the top. Nice views though.

1 month ago

Echo Lake is one of the best easy hikes in Tahoe but past Upper Echo Lake is not my favorite because it has lots of scree which makes it challenging to keep your footing while enjoying the view. Ankle support is a must on Upper Echo Lake section. Views are tops & lakes are plentiful past Upper Echo. Heavily trafficked. Lots of climbing on rock steps. Not much shade so avoid in July.

1 month ago

This was an amazing trail. It's a great deep dive into Desolation with visits to multiple lakes and sweeping views, despite not including scaling a peak. Each leg of the trail is more spectacular than the last, and it's gorgeous from the start. The view of Lake Aloha from the top of Mosquito pass is stunning. There's still plenty of water in parts of Aloha despite it being so late in the season. I'm looking forward to doing this one again early next summer.

1 month ago

Completed this trail with two friends and small dog. Nothing major for the majority of the way. Typical desolation hike in that the trail is a lot of large rocks and dirt.

Trail head at the end of the parking lot with a vehicle gate across it. First two miles are pretty uneventful with only the soda springs and old resort to be seen. Preservation work is going on at the resort. Please be considerate of that.

The rest of the trail is switch back upon switch back until you reach the top. Coming from the east coast, I was fairly used to this.

The lake is as beautiful as the pictures show. Crystal clear, blue, rimmed with mountains. The water is still as glass and cold as ice.

Stayed up there for about an hour.

Total trip about 6 hours.

did it on 9/29/2018. Last year I went on the Rocky Canyon route. This one is slightly less physical but much longer. The first leg is easy, reached Sylvia lake in less than 2 hours. The hard work is in second leg, took me more time as I got lost on the slabs while I was battling up to the peak. There is another peak with similar elevation north west Pyramid peak, it's between Mt Price and Pyramid Peak on google map. It seems doable and will try it next time

Good day adventure, completed in just under 7 hours. Used this trail as a prep for Mt. Whitney in 2 days.
Beautiful views of the multiple lakes and surreal autumn nature! The trail is quite exposed with little shade.
I would do this trail again as a backpacking trip.

If you are not in fairly decent shape, and used to hiking at higher altitudes, I would not recommend you try this. The cardio vascular demand isn’t crazy, but you will find that if you don’t have decent leg strength/endurance, you may not make it to the top. First mile and last mile are definitely the hardest, with the second mile leveling out to a tolerable incline.

There is intermittent rock scrambling throughout the entire trail. Footing can be questionable through out it as well.

As for the trail head, it is not visible from the road. I built several rock cairns at the point where you have to scramble/climb up the embankment. It opens up immediately onto the trail head. There are cairns through out the trail as well. Pay attention to them.

Sustained winds at the top. Bring layers.

The hike down, make sure you follow your all trails app. It’s easy to get off the path when you get goin at a decent speed.

For two girls in decent shape and experienced hikers, it was roughly 4 hours up, 2 hours down, with about an hour at the top.

Probably the best views in the area.

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