nature trips

wild flowers




trail running



dog friendly

dogs on leash


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.

1 day ago

Absolutely beautiful. Dog loved it. We did continue on the path towards Lower Velma Lake to the top vista for a panoramic view of Eagle Lake from above. That was an all uphill hike but definitely worth it.

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.

2 days 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!

2 days 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.

4 days ago

Eagle Lake is beautiful and worth the hike!

We went out and back, Saturday - Monday. 1st day ~15mile to Dick's Lake. 2nd day ~15 miles to Emerald Bay and back to Gilmore Lake. 3rd day ~ 10 miles back to Echo Lake.

A majority of the trail is made of pebbles or rocks half the size of one's boot. This made for an uneven surface and was hard on the feet by the end of our trip.

Wildflowers all over the trail, especially when approaching Dick's Pass from the south side. The uphill back from Emerald Bay was hard and steep. We stopped at the bathrooms at the Emerald Bay vista point, and refilled water in Granite Lake.

The parking lot by the Echo Lake Chalet at the start of the trail was full, so we parked ~13minute walk away from the trailhead on the side of the road just South of the Berkley camp. A guy at the chalet said not to park on the side of the road where there is a red stripe.

Had a great weekend at Lake of the Woods. I think this is the best place in Desolation to camp. There's an awesome rock face nearby you can climb that has great views of lake Aloha and the surrounding area.
Wasn't too cold this past weekend, didn't notice any mosquitos. The hike is pretty steep and rocky going up, have good shoes because the rocks get hard on the feet after a while.
If you catch a warm day on your hike back, don't miss the small trail down to the water about 1/4 a mile from the trailhead. We had a great time swimming around hanging out here

Did this on September 16. Check other posts for spotting the trailhead. Also note that the painted rock depicting the start of the trail can be difficult to spot at night. Also, this is not a white dot. It's a big rock with faded white paint splotched on it. The trailhead is just past the creek heading towards Lake Tahoe. The trail runs parallel to this creek almost all the way. The trail is not difficult to follow. For the first mile you are on the right side and parallel to the stream. Then you cross it and then the stream is to the light and the trail parallels it again. I could follow this trail at night and under headlamps. Once the stream disappears the trail follows the valley contour till it leads to the boulders etc and then there are lot of cairns to guide you. I did Pyramid Peak and went further - Mt Agassiz, Price Peak, Mosquito pass, Jacks Peak, Dicks Peak, Dicks pass, caught the PCT and headed back via Ralston Peak trail.

6 days ago

6 days ago

nice short semi moderate "hiking" trail with lots of rocks and vegetation...heavily hiked even during the week. good beginner trail. I noticed on the way back there's a trolley and bus stop .... would be interesting to take a trolley to the hike so everyone can enjoy the view on the way. although I never saw a trolley on the way there or back. yes nice hike to do once if u don't mind people.