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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.

6 days ago

Super short but with some good ups.. especially in the snow. It seems fairly popular on the weekends but not obnoxious. The lake is frozen - people were walking all the way out to the island with no issue today.

7 days ago

This is an easy snowshoe trek from the Sno-Park lot to Lower Echo. We also shoed across the length of Lower Echo. Powder is deep in spots, and the lake is mostly frozen. Absolutely enchanting. Such a gorgeous hike. Today’s weather was terrific, along with ideal road conditions.

Completed on 1/11/18. This hike was definetly a low-effort, high-reward kind of trek. There were a ton of incredible views, from Lake Tahoe to mountain peaks to frozen Eagle Lake. A little sketchy in a couple of spots, but definitely doable with some snowshoes and poles. Highly suggested! Didn't see anyone on the way up and only a few hikers on the way down.

15 days ago

Very scenic trail. Starts relatively flat along the length of echo lake, clearly defined trail, spikes used in this section since compacted. As you turn to start the loop, switch to snowshoes required. still relatively easy to follow, a few icy spots. I had service the whole time to check map. Pretty consistent incline to peak. I did an out-and-back to echo peak due to time constraints. 3 hrs to peak and super quick on return. Icy road heading in to trailhead with traffic at peak hours, had to walk the last halfmile due to snow. Great experience, panoramic views and easy to navigate.

16 days ago

This one was fun, as it had some fresh snow had to use snowshoes after the first 1k feet of climbing - barely had any tracks to follow, not a well marked trail by any means (which makes it fun)

Recommendation is to use the all trails app to make sure you're close to the trail. Thank you for putting the cairns or else we'd never be able to find the trail!

19 days ago

I just hiked this one today (12/29/18) and really enjoyed it. Beautiful views.The lake was frozen over so plenty of hikers walked out onto it. Very cool. Some parts of the trail were really icy and can be tough to hike on. I saw plenty of people slip and a few younger kids and older adults had difficulty with icy steps.

20 days ago

Great scenery!

21 days ago

Pretty hike! Get to the parking area early to get a spot and make sure you park in an appropriate spot, as the rangers do ticket. We went in mid-November....Lake Aloha was great when we went plenty of water, but very cold when the sun went down. I imagine it would be absolutely perfect in the spring and fall!

An easy hike with amazing view.

Amazing view of the frozen lake!! Our first Christmas Eve hike

Closed for at least a year due to fire damage

1 month ago

Didn't follow the advice of "best used from June until October." Hiked this in mid-December without snowshoes or poles. Doable without snow equipment but I still recommend it. Tough hike but the view from the peak is well worth it.

1 month ago

great hike

it was a great snowy winterland. it was a wonderful trek and not to long. it is also pretty well marked except after the waterfall. then it got tricky so I decided not to continue and headed back down.

Recently I had the great fortune of hiking to Lake of the Woods with two of our sons. We took a chance, late in the hiking season, to travel a small portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. This wonderful little trail offered a variety of terrain, lakes and foliage. While challenging, in my current athletic ability, this well-traveled trail gives the day hiker and backpacker stunning views and beautiful scenery.

We had the lake to ourselves for two days. Clear sky and beautiful weather with temps in the sixties daytime and low thirties at night, made for a fantastic trip!

We will be back to this little gem again!

Went up yesterday & it was very snowy!! Totally beautiful though maybe not all cars could make it on the snow covered road to get to the lake.

Amazing hike!

Beautiful trail - tried to do after a big snow storm and lost the last mile of trail. Still had great views and would recommend.

1 month ago

Loved it. Great views. A good amount of uphill climbing on the way up to Eagle Lake but well worth it!

1 month ago

Amazing views all around, watch your step, & keep your kids away from the mountain edge, lots of slippery loose rocks. Parking is sheer luck if you get one. So much beauty here, enjoy!

Beautiful lakes; nice easy to follow trail; interesting granite formation; only thing missing is a waterfall

Great trail for families. Kids loved climbing the rocks. Beautiful views.

5 stars for beautiful family trail but had to only give 3 because waaaay too crowded

Easy and pretty, perfect for acclimating to the elevation. We cut down to Upper Echo Lake and relaxed there for a bit.

2 months ago

nice hike, uphill, theres a cute bridge for pictures & leads you to the lake

2 months ago

Thanks to an unusual delay in winter storms, we got to enjoy this hike in mid-November. Although it is late in the hiking season, we still saw a number of other hikers on the trail. We knew Lake Aloha would be drained, but other lakes on the way still provided beautiful scenic views, Lake of the Woods in particular. To see this one, you’ll have to add a small loop with a steep climb, but it’s worth it!

As far as the hike itself, it was not terribly difficult. I didn’t enjoy hiking on the scree, but it is par for the course in Desolation Wilderness. The trail is well marked; just keep an eye out for the wooden posts marking various converging and crossing trails. Some people had their dogs, but I was glad I left mine at home since it is primarily an exposed, rocky path.

All in all, a great hike that I look forward to doing again in the summer!

2 months ago

Enjoyed a beautiful day on this trail, unusually warm and sunny for mid November. A fair number of people were out today, but most that we encountered were within a mile or two of the trailhead. Lake Aloha is drained at the end of the season, so we missed out on experiencing it in its full glory, but the other lakes did not disappoint. Lake of the Woods is worth the uphill climb you’ll encounter after you visit, so I recommend adding a loop on to see it.

great view, kids and dog friendly, the lake is an amazing meditation place

on Echo Lakes Trail

2 months ago

This was such a wonderful easy hike. Great for families with kids. Our 8 year old did it with a little help on the way back.

Great hike, the rock scramble by the waterfall is terrible. Once you get through it evens out a lot and is so much better.

On the way down you can crab walk or butt scoot next to the waterfall for the first portion. Its a little dangerous and I only recommend it for advanced hikers. You get down a lot faster and its so much more fun than the rock scramble. Be safe and watch out for smooth granite. This hike is great and is really pretty. Goodluck and have fun!

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