If you're looking for a real adventure, you can try turning this loop into a day hike. Tallac, Bayview, Eagle Lake and Meeks Bay. The Desolation Wilderness requires all day-hikers and overnight visitors to have a backcountry permit — yes, even day-hikers. Facilities Camping is primitive in the wilderness area. In order to protect its unique beauty and wilderness character, human access is limited and certain activities are restricted in the Desolation. (Be sure to print it out and have it with you on your trip.) Recommended Routes in Desolation Wilderness - 12 Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. The hike over Rockbound Pass is far less crowded than many of the trails on the eastern side of the wilderness. Even though Desolation is a popular weekend destination, the northwest quadrant is the least used and can be explored cross-country for those proficient with map and compass. https://www.mapquest.com/us/california/desolation-wilderness-376313975 Desolation Wilderness has been my favorite destination for backpacking lately since it’s so close to home, and there are so many spots and trails I still want to explore. Due to it’s relatively easy access and proximity to large populations in the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Reno, Desolation Wilderness Area receives more use per acre than any other wilderness area in the U.S. Desolation Wilderness is a federally protected wilderness of 63,000+ acres in Northern California. Elevation Gain: 2100 Feet This was our first time backpacking Desolation Wilderness in South Tahoe and we absolutely loved it! You may find the area so remarkable that you will want to stay longer -- it's hard to see all its beauty in such a short amount of time. Eagle Lake trail is one of our favorites. Desolation Wilderness was titled for its unforested, open stone landscape, and that starkness and open sky are what give the place its beauty. Eldorado National Forest Information Center 3070 Camino Heights Drive Camino, CA 95709, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit 870 Emerald Bay Rd. If you are a lover of nature and backpacking, then Desolation Wilderness in California is a destination worth looking at. Great Intro hike into Desolation Wilderness. The glaciers disappeared 10,000 years ago, but the hard-edged granite gives the feeling that the Ice Age ended last week. Desolation Wilderness is jointly administered by both the Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Plenty of hiking trails; some to waterfalls and others to great views of Lake Tahoe. If you want to do the full loop, you have to go on the road for a decent amount of time to walk back to the parking lot. … Heading toward Fontanillis and Dicks Lake, we found relative solitude and incredible scenery. Share. Lake of the Woods via Pacific Crest Trail, PCT: CA Section K - Echo Lake to Highway 80, Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Aloha, Mount Tallac Loop, Maggie's Peak, Eagle Lake, Granite Lake Loop. Because of its beauty and accessibility, Desolation Wilderness is one of the most heavily used wilderness areas in the United States. For backpacking, Fontanillis and Dicks Lake are both in the same Desolation Wilderness zone - #23. Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Desolation Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you. +/- 3,000 feet of elevation with a starting elevation of 6,970 feet and a peak elevation of 9,660 feet. The hike to Lake Aloha is the ultimate day hike in Desolation Wilderness. Along the route you are treated to amazing scenery with highlights including: alpine lakes, granite peaks, meadows, waterfalls, and expansive views of El Dorado National… Grab some maps for Granite Chief, Tahoe, and Robbs Peak if you want to venture beyond the most accessible trailheads or turn your hike into more than a weekend excursion. For more information on overnight permits for Desolation Wilderness click … Hiking and backpacking at its finest, through pastoral grasslands and forests of pine and fur. Behind the forbidding name lies California's glacier-polished playground. Hikers climbing out of the densely wooded Lake Tahoe basin are often startled by the Desolation Wilderness' sudden expanse of glacially polished scenery. It’s best to obtain your permit from www.recreation.gov. Carson Ranger District 1536 S. Carson St. Carson City, NV 89701. But don’t let this scare you away from enjoying 64,000 acres (100 square miles) of subalpine and alpine forest, granitic peaks, meadows of wildflowers, 75 glacially-formed lakes with names, and countless ones without names. Note: As of 10/3/2020, users have reported that Wrights Lake Rd is gated off just past the equestrian camp, so parking is limited. RECOMMENDED ROUTE During the winter months, most of the trailheads are covered by snow and are not accessible. The Desolation has been broken into 45 different “zones” with a quota system limiting the number of people in each one. Follow the PCT past Lake Aloha, Heather Lake and Susie Lake. Warm summer days, mild falls, and relatively low elevations belie the barren rock and harsh, windswept alpine winters and the sudden summer storms. If you're looking for a weekend backpacking trip with the most bang for your buck, look no further than Desolation Wilderness. The wilderness encompasses three mountain ranges and about 130 lakes (many stocked with trout). The 15-minute USGS topo map Fallen Leaf Lake provides a view of most of the Desolation Wilderness area. Hiking Great! Susie and heather lakes (Lake Tahoe) is a 10.6 mile out and back trail located near Lake tahoe, California. You will need to walk the extra distance to the trailhead. While visiting in late August, supposedly the warmest time of the year, my friends and I were chased out a day early by freezing temperatures and the threat of snow. The ambitious or hikers with time can make this a loop by continuing onto Fontanellis and Middle Velma Lake before rejoining the trail back to Bayview. For information on campgrounds outside of the wilderness, call (800) 280-2267. The Desolation Wilderness can be a busy place, so a permit system was established in an effort to spread people out and preserve the quality of the experience for everyone. Desolation Wilderness Permits are issued through a quota system and can be reserved through recreation.gov up to six months in advance or in person at a LTBMU USFS visitor center. The trail is only recommended for very experienced outdoorsmen. Getting There Access Desolation Wilderness from I-80 or US 50. This is an amazing trail and covers at least 5 lakes and quite a few periods of escalation. Gems in Desolation Wilderness - 1. You must have a permit and pay a fee for all overnight trips in Desolation Wilderness. Desolation Wilderness is one of the most heavily used wilderness areas in the country. Permits are required in Desolation Wilderness. We took a long weekend, hiked to Middle Velma Lake, and were blown away by the alpine lake dotted with fir tree covered islands, sparkling crystal clear waters, our own private swimming cove, and violet sunsets. Trailhead approximate address: Fallen Leaf Lake, Glen Alpine Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, #9 - Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Aloha, Mount Tallac Loop. Before European settlers arrived, it was occupied by Washoe people. Helpful. This 4-day backpacking adventure through Desolation Wilderness was the second half of the mountaineering course. If you decide to go, please practice Leave No Trace. The Wilderness sits on the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountain’s Crystal Range, west of Lake Tahoe, and north of Highway 50. Take the Glen Alpine Trail back to Fallen Leaf. Recreation.gov is your source for discovering and experiencing America's federal recreation activities and outdoor adventures. Make sure to call ahead to the Placerville Ranger Station in Camino, CA to reserve a wilderness permit ($6 reservation fee plus $5/person for the 1st night, $10 more than 1 night). Closest to the wilderness border is Bayview Campground (916 544-5994) to the east. Hikers climbing out of the densely wooded Lake Tahoe basin are often startled by the Desolation Wilderness' sudden expanse of glacially polished scenery. No campfires, motorized vehicles, or bicycles are allowed in the area. © 2020 Pocket Outdoor Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Trip Overview: ~12 mile relaxing backpacking trip in Desolation Wilderness. Pemigewasset Wilderness Sign. While Sawtooth Lake grabs the limelight, behind the scenes lie crowd-free peace and splendor. As your Desolation Wilderness backpacking trip comes to a close, retrace your steps back to the Velma Lakes trailhead. Catch rainbows -- trout, that is -- in Rockhouse Basin's rivers, where you're more likely to see a wildcat than another human. Desolation Wilderness is one of the most popular wilderness areas in the nation. Desolation Wilderness is one of the most heavily used wilderness areas in the country. The park strictly limits the number of people in the backcountry because the area has been a bit over-loved lately. It once was filled with glacial runoff that spilled into the southern end of Lake Tahoe and washed through canyons before draining into the American River valley to the west. South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, Taylor Creek Visitor Center Call: (530) 573-2674. A Guide to Desolation Wilderness is available from the Forest Service. Mike L wrote a review Sep 2017. #4 - Lake of the Woods via Pacific Crest Trail, #5 - PCT: CA Section K - Echo Lake to Highway 80. The trail is fairly flat for most of the hike, with only two sections of significant elevation gain, and you will pass by 5 lakes in under 12 miles round trip. The Desolation Wilderness is a large protected area in the Eldorado National Forest including Lake Tahoe and the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains. NOTE: the lake is drained each fall, so plan accordingly. Sneak in the side door for a private viewing of the finest in California's High Sierra real estate. Date of experience: June 2018. Backpacking the Desolation Loop in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Now it is a popular hiking destination with a few dozens of trails and trail heads that provide access to the Wilderness. For day hikers, you can self issue a permit at the trailhead. In winter, the temperatures are in the high teens or 20s. Philip Werner 4000 Footers, Backpacking Trips, Trip Reports, White Mountains. A practical application of the lessons learned in the first class, so to speak. Desolation Wilderness is accessed through 13 trailheads: Loon Lake, Van Vleck, Rockbound, Twin Lakes, Lyons Creek, Pyramid Creek, Ralston Peak, Echo Lake, Glen Alpine, Mt. Read more. West Linn 380 contributions 93 helpful votes +1. As with most backpacking destinations, you’ll need to secure a wilderness permit for any overnight stays in Desolation Wilderness. Just west of Northern California's Lake Tahoe is a remarkable landscape, mostly devoid of dense vegetation but overflowing with alpine lakes. We completed this short distance backpacking trip over 3 days in July of 2018. At waterfall camp, you'll have the opportunity to explore over 50 waterfalls. But be warned, Desolation's excellent trout fishing and relative accessibility draw a lot of visitors, making some areas less than desolate. Plant Life Cedar, pines, firs, mountain grass, and wildflowers characterize the area. Even on the most crowded of weekends, it's possible to venture off-trail a short distance and set up a remote camp amid the granite bowls and high alpine lakes. Hazards Be alert to extreme weather conditions. Welcome to Desolation Wilderness, 63,960 acres of sub-alpine and alpine forest, granite peaks, and glacially-formed valleys and lakes. Dicks Peak and Dicks Pass ~ at 9,380 feet, the highest pass on the Pacific Crest Trail between here and the Canadian border ~ are worthy destinations for the view alone. Lay claim to your own California mountain valley and bask in utter solitude. It can be difficult to find solitude, especially if you’re hiking to Lake Aloha or up Pyramid Peak on a summer weekend. This means packing out all your trash … Highlights include alpine lakes, granite peaks, and expansive views of Desolation Wilderness. This trip can easily be extended to an overnight backpacking trip with a stay near Lake Aloha. Desolation Wilderness Permits: Backpacking and Day Hiking. With alpine lakes accessible within several miles of hiking, it's no wonder that folks flock to this destination from all over the country. Desolation Wilderness Just west of Northern California's Lake Tahoe is a remarkable landscape, mostly devoid of dense vegetation but overflowing with alpine lakes. All things considered, however, the Forest Service is doing a commendable job of accommodating the heavy use and stemming the abuse. This is a great overnight backpacking trip that features some of the best of Desolation Wilderness. Lakes were dammed and cattle still graze some areas. The Desolation Wilderness is within the Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, in El Dorado County, California. Here's what you need to prep for a solo jaunt in Desolation Wilderness! Click here for all the important dates for booking CA backpacking permits The hike over Rockbound Pass is far less crowded than many of the trails on the eastern side of the wilderness. For day hikes, fill out a day permit at the trailhead (Echo Lakes Trailhead), so that people know where you are in case anything goes wrong. A high point offering a year-round getaway for lovers of southern wildlife, lush forests, and redeye bass. Contact the Eldorado Information Center in Camino for more permit information. Hiking in Desolation Wilderness. Seasonal Information This is a land of stark contrasts. Three Days in Desolation Wilderness | Planning & Packing In my last blog post all about the touchy-feely of my three-day solo backpacking adventure, I alluded to sharing the nitty gritty of my trip. Camp at least 100 feet from all water sources. Permits Deolation Wilderness operates under the U.S. Fee Demonstration Act. Desolation Valley is a 5-square-mile granite bowl. Echo Lakes to Susie lake via Lake Aloha. It's bounded by logging roads and operations to the north and west, Lake Tahoe to the east, and US 50 to the south. After a hot day of hiking, there is no better way to relax than with a swim in beautiful Lake Aloha where you can spend hours swimming from island to island. It is located west of Lake Tahoe and north of Highway 50 in El Dorado County. Rose is a newly established wilderness area in. Backpack to this secluded destination that's hidden from most of the traffic in Desolation Wilderness. Hikers, four-wheelers, and cows all left their marks. Wildlife Deer, marmots, and a few bears make up the region's wildlife. The crest of the Sierra Nevada is found here. The walk up to the peak is the most challenging, but the view is so gorgeous! Plan a mid-week trip, if possible, or visit during winter and you'll have a piece of this magnificent creation to yourself. Desolation Wilderness Main Features: Meeks Bay is the trail head for the Classic Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, and an excellent entry point into the Desolation Wilderness for short and medium distance backpackers as … A roadless wonder in California's Los Padres Wilderness. It can be difficult to find solitude, especially if you’re hiking to Lake Aloha or up Pyramid Peak on a summer weekend. Although the Velma lakes typically are crowded with fishermen and weekend wanderers, we managed to escape the crowds. #10 - Maggie's Peak, Eagle Lake, Granite Lake Loop. Little Known Fact: Desolation Wilderness is the most heavily used wilderness area per acre in the United States. It's a free site with a 48-hour limit operating on a first come, first served basis. Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Although this hike can be done as a … A strong hiker could cross it in a day or two, but the treasures here encourage you to linger. This 12 mile loop starts at the Fallen Leaf Lake Tamarack Trail Head and intersects with the Pacific Crest Trail. We arrived at the trailhead a bit before 11 and got our gear … Though the Desolation Wilderness is the most used Wilderness in the nation on a per acre basis, there was not a human near Grass Lake and only a … Add Your Recommended Routes. Parking Contact the park office for information. You can reserve 11 spots ahead of time online at Recreation.gov, and 5 spots are available for same day walk in. Add Your Gems. If you choose not to take the water taxi, add 5 miles to the overall trip. A hiker's oasis in the hills and valleys of the Midwest. Between June 15 and September 30, when a quota is in effect, overnight hikers should be sure to contact the Forest Service 90 days before their outing. Summer temperatures of 60 to 75 degrees F draw crowds in mid-June. #6 - Lake Aloha via Glen Alpine Trailhead. The middle section which is a long climb up from Echo Lake to the desolation wilderness is very rocky. The most popular backpacking area is Desolation Wilderness, a 63,690-acre granite slab on the edge of the tree line in Eldorado National Forest. The Glen Alpine trail is a relatively gradual climb and distance makes for a great day hike. Route Name: Bayview Trailhead Location: South Lake Tahoe, California Duration: 3 days minimum Length:22 km / 13.8 miles If you want to avoid that, you can do this as an out and back starting from the Eagle lake trail head. This wilderness area is in the Sierra Mountain range where rugged natural wonders rule. Location Desolation Wilderness is in north-central California along the eastern border, 3-1/2 hours northeast of San Francisco, 2 hours east of Sacramento, and 1 hour southwest of Reno, Nevada. Ropi Lake (3) South L…, CA. This 100-square-mile wilderness is small by most standards. Or explore El Dorado National Forest's other wilderness area, Mt. Trip Overview: ~38 mile backpacking trip in Desolation Wilderness near South Lake Tahoe. This trail offers great views with a variety of terrains. Every paradise has its downside, though; its proximity to urban areas and the Tahoe recreation scene made the Desolation Wilderness crowded and scarred long before its wilderness designation in 1971. The area is divided into 45 zones and permits are required year-round, with quotas in effect from the Friday before Memorial Day to September 30. This loop traverses over Rockbound Pass and Dicks Pass on its way to the beautiful Lake Aloha. As the title states, this is a great way to get started hiking in Desolation Wilderness. The trail to the top of Dicks Peak is obscure at times, but the scree-scrambling left us standing on top of the world, looking down on a windswept granite-colored kingdom dotted with hundreds of blue puddles. It's like being in an Ansel Adams photograph. The trail is long and varies a lot. We headed into the Velma Lakes region out of the Bay View Campground entrance point. 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