Looking for a great trail in Desolation Wilderness, California? AllTrails has 55 great hiking trails, running trails, views trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Gearing up for a challenge? There are 32 hard trails in Desolation Wilderness ranging from 3.7 to 61.2 miles and from 5,895 to 9,980 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!

hiking

views

lake

forest

nature trips

backpacking

camping

wildlife

wild flowers

bird watching

dogs on leash

running

dog friendly

river

fishing

walking

waterfall

snowshoeing

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 wilderness 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) bear spray for any potential bear or mountain lion encounters (although these are very rare). NOTE: Permits are required year-round. A signed copy of your permit must be in your possession at all times. We recently changed offices. Our updated information is listed below: Pick up permits for West side entry at the: Placerville Ranger Station 260 Eight Mile Road Camino Ca. 95709. Call for current days and hours: (530) 647-5415. Eight miles east of Placerville on Highway 50 and take exit 54 (Cedar Grove). Turn right on Eight Mile road. Pick up permit for East side entry at the Taylor Creek Forest Service Visitor Center, located three miles north of the Highway 50/89 junction at South Lake Tahoe, on Highway 89. Open summer only. Call for hours. Phone: (530) 543-2674. Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, located 2 miles east of the Highway 50/89 junction on in South Lake Tahoe. Turn right on Al Tahoe Blvd., then right at the first signal. 35 College Drive South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150. Phone: (530) 543-2600. While many California parks can be full of visitors, Desolation Wilderness truly lives up to its 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. brochure is on this link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3795175.pdf Eldorado National Forest website: Desolation Wilderness information: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/eldorado/specialplaces/?cid=fsbdev7_019062 Volunteers website that yields great information for the public as well: http://desowv.org/

hiking
2 days ago

To short for my liking.

Did it on 11/17/2019. Very dangerous. This trail is for people seeking off-trail adventure, because there is no trail at all from Lake Sylvia to the summit. Scrambling up from the lake to the ridge has a high probability of being hit by falling rocks. I documented the trail condition in great detail here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxWWJfJcubs

hiking
rocky
3 days ago

This is a very enjoyable hike! It's strenuous enough to get your heart and blood pumping but nothing too insane. Lake at the woods is a beautiful spot to relax and stick your feet in for a bit. The water is freezing cold but feels good after hiking to it. The trail itself is rocky 80% of the time. Wear appropriate footwear to protect yourself. Not recommended for people with weak ankles. My friends and I added more mileage to the hike by hitting Aloha Lake on the way back. The lake is dry this time of year so we got to walk through the lake bed which was super cool. Then headed back on the PCT.

hiking
rocky
4 days ago

I completed about 20 miles of this trail in the reverse direction in November 2019, skipping Jacks and Dicks peaks to the north. The ridge traverse north of Pyramid Peak is quite tricky because of all the loose talus - be careful up there.

Great hike, I did this after Tallac so it kind of dominated me, but it was worth it. I decided to go through the boulders which rocked!

hiking
8 days ago

Hardest hike I’ve ever done, views were worth it. It felt good to say look what I’ve accomplished. Will I do it again? No. But I’m really happy I did it. Trail was well kept and there was a trail the whole time besides the top when you have to climb on boulders to the summit. Finding the trail head was a bit difficult. But If you look on the map on AllTrails you should be fine. Saw only 3 other hiking groups. Hard going up hard going down (because it’s so steep) I fell three times and I had hiking shoes and hiking poles. I would highly recommend hiking poles.

Great hike for casual hikers and families with kids and pets. I've done this several times and love it! Beautiful views of the lake. Highly recommend!

Lots of pretty mountain lakes. Not much of a view of Tahoe. The south slope of Dick's Pass was difficult with the large rocks that were put on the trail. Made the grade take way more effort than needed. AllTrails put my recording at a bit over 32 miles, where as TRTA states that this leg is at 30 miles. All in all, I enjoyed the other sections more.

I enjoyed this trail very much. All of the lake along the way are super clear and some actually have small fish in them which appeared to be rainbow trout. It is very rocky about 60% of the hike, very easy to get off trail. I had to keep checking back on the map to find my way back to the trail. The best views were during the sunset which meant we had to hike back in the dark but it was very worth it.

hiking
fee
10 days ago

This was a nice trail, but definitely not 7.8 miles. Was closer to 10 round trip. Also the first part of this trail is very very busy on weekend. Close to a non stop stream of people till the falls, then almost as busy to dicks lake. Trail clears out and gets much better after that. Middle Velma lake is low but still a great destination.

hiking
rocky
10 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

3 family 9 total. 3 days. Overnight Lake of the Woods. Then Aloha day trip - dried and walked across, climbed Pyramid peak. Last day hiked out. Mid November cold at night but no wind fee people gorgeous sunny days.

hiking
rocky
11 days ago

Just did this last weekend as an overnight backpacking trip with several others. The trail is quite rocky for the majority of the trail but the views are quite lovely. We spent the night at Lake Aloha. While the water levels are low, the views are still stunning. The moon was so bright at night we almost didn't need headlamps. It was so warm during the day we were hiking in t-shirts. It did get down to about 25 at night but the trip was definitely unseasonably warm for November! Definitely something I want to do again in the future.

hiking
rocky
scramble
11 days ago

Having moved to Meyers recently, i felt it necessary to tackle Tallac This day hike is a full one, so be ready to put some hours in! Im an average hiker, getting out at least once a week for 10+ milers, and this, although clocked in at 12.5 miles, felt like i had just finished a 20 mile day. Most of this hike is one loose rock/granite, and it will wear on your legs. Constant ankle bites, with a fair amount of scrambling at the top section of the peak. If you are not comfortable with heights/ rock scrambling, consider stopping a quarter mile down. Despite the tough conditions, this is a gorgeous hike, with tons of views of Desolation while passing Gilmore Lake, a large backcountry beauty that was shimmering in the November sun. The way up took quite some time, as the altitude is still affecting me, and the rocky nature meant careful foot placement. The descent was a bit quicker, but only if you are sure footed as its almost easier to twist and ankle going back down. All in all, stoked that I challenge this peak and I know I will be back. I passed quite a few others attempting the peak as well, so although fairly quiet you will likely pass another group or two. This entire trip took roughly 5.5 hours

My dad and I just finished this one up. The offline map definitely saved us a number of times. Very easy to get off track if it’s your first time. We took 2 days to do it, spent the first night at Dicks Lake. Got down to about 20' at night. Highly recommend this if you’re looking for a challenging but tremendously beautiful adventure.

hiking
14 days ago

Now that I’m recovered I can give my review. This is 6 days following the hike of the Pyramid and it’s my first “sore free” day. This one got me. In its defense I wasn’t ready for it. It was painful, uphill the entire time, and I actually considered not summiting as I approached. I am not in terrible shape- I bagged a good 5 moderate hikes just prior to this but a few more squeezed in would have paid off comfort wise. 3 L water. The summit- by the way- was worth it. No wind, 60 degrees or so it felt... and some aerial looking views with the elevation and the low water in the lakes. So ultimately, yes, worth it. But be ready. We did it in 8 hrs, 6.5 hrs moving time.

Very lovely trail- first several miles are fairly flat and then it gets a moderate grade. This is the same trail head as a trail in this app called Echo Lakes Trail. Went first weekend of November 2019 and it was fully accessible by car with no snow- got really warm and sunny by mid day.

Awesome way to get into Desolation. Pyramid Peak is a bit of a trek but well worth the panorama. We could see anywhere from South Lake Tahoe to Mt Diablo. Be sure to route your scramble uphill from Lake Sylvia--its easy to get stuck above the cliffs on the way back down. We went up on 11/2-11/3. No snow but a little chilly at night. Makes for some beautiful ice on the lake in the morning. Easy trail to follow, and I'd recommend checking out Lyons and Sylvia as they are both gorgeous. Google maps shows Wright's road as closed but it is open according to USFS.

hiking
rocky
15 days ago

I highly recommend this short little hike! Lots of stairs, clear paths, great views! We did it with our pup and she had a great time. Very busy, so start early! We started around 10 and coming down got crowded.

hiking
rocky
16 days ago

hiking
rocky
17 days ago

Super fun trail that I found really easy to unintentionally veer off of. Sunscreen, hats or some sort of protection will be helpful, the trail is exposed most of the way.

Great trail. Go in the summer, so it's quiet and empty when I go in the fall

hiking
18 days ago

Popular short hike with nice views. Trailhead parking area has bathroom, there is a fee to park. Trail up to lake has some elevation gain but not too bad. After you finish your hike, check out lower Eagle Falls right across the road.

hiking
rocky
18 days ago

Beautiful trail with a moderate-to-difficult climb in the beginning. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, preferably hiking shoes. The terrain can get rocky and may be uncomfortable wearing tennis shoes. Overall a phenomenal hike with beautiful sights! Please note that parking may be a challenge so start your hike early!

hiking
18 days ago

Wonderful hike and challenging.. We got lost on the trail starting from the beginning and once you get out of the woods a massive granite incline you need to conquer, no initial mark trail on your way up. Shoes with good grip is recommended. While climbing the granite slab we stay away from the falls couple feet away, some portion near falls are slippery and you might fall from your death. The most challenging part is climbing down the granite on your way down, I’ll suggest bring rope just Incase. I don’t recommend bringing dog if your climbing all the way to the top.

Did this hike on 11/2/19. Google maps tell you to go around Ice House Reservoir if you are coming from the west but DON'T take that route! Drive down to Wright Lake Road and you can save yourself about 25 minutes. FYI: Wright Lake Road is closed during the winter when it snows. The trail is smooth and easy until you reach Lake Sylvia. From there it's all scramble with a few trail markers. The hardest parts are from mile 5.2 to mile 5.4. Once you get to the ridge (mile 5.4) don't give up. One of the best views in Tahoe and I have done all the major peaks around Tahoe.

Load More