Hikers climbing out of the densely wooded Lake Tahoe basin are often startled by the Desolation Wilderness' sudden expanse of glacially polished scenery. Desolation Wilderness is one of the most heavily used wilderness areas in the country. 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. 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. Carson Ranger District 1536 S. Carson St. Carson City, NV 89701. Camp at least 100 feet from all water sources. (Be sure to print it out and have it with you on your trip.) #6 - Lake Aloha via Glen Alpine Trailhead. 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. © 2020 Pocket Outdoor Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. 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. At waterfall camp, you'll have the opportunity to explore over 50 waterfalls. 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. The Wilderness sits on the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountain’s Crystal Range, west of Lake Tahoe, and north of Highway 50. A roadless wonder in California's Los Padres Wilderness. The Desolation Wilderness is a large protected area in the Eldorado National Forest including Lake Tahoe and the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Although the Velma lakes typically are crowded with fishermen and weekend wanderers, we managed to escape the crowds. Recommended Routes in Desolation Wilderness - 12 Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. 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. Philip Werner 4000 Footers, Backpacking Trips, Trip Reports, White Mountains. The Desolation Wilderness is within the Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, in El Dorado County, California. Wildlife Deer, marmots, and a few bears make up the region's wildlife. If you're looking for a weekend backpacking trip with the most bang for your buck, look no further than Desolation Wilderness. #10 - Maggie's Peak, Eagle Lake, Granite Lake Loop. Share. Add Your Recommended Routes. Getting There Access Desolation Wilderness from I-80 or US 50. Permits Deolation Wilderness operates under the U.S. Fee Demonstration Act. RECOMMENDED ROUTE 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. The trail is only recommended for very experienced outdoorsmen. 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 … Tallac, Bayview, Eagle Lake and Meeks Bay. Backpacking the Desolation Loop in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. It’s best to obtain your permit from www.recreation.gov. Desolation Wilderness Permits: Backpacking and Day Hiking. For information on campgrounds outside of the wilderness, call (800) 280-2267. Helpful. Hiking in Desolation Wilderness. With alpine lakes accessible within several miles of hiking, it's no wonder that folks flock to this destination from all over the country. A strong hiker could cross it in a day or two, but the treasures here encourage you to linger. Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. As with most backpacking destinations, you’ll need to secure a wilderness permit for any overnight stays in Desolation Wilderness. This trip can easily be extended to an overnight backpacking trip with a stay near Lake Aloha. Welcome to Desolation Wilderness, 63,960 acres of sub-alpine and alpine forest, granite peaks, and glacially-formed valleys and lakes. Eldorado National Forest Information Center 3070 Camino Heights Drive Camino, CA 95709, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit 870 Emerald Bay Rd. We headed into the Velma Lakes region out of the Bay View Campground entrance point. Just west of Northern California's Lake Tahoe is a remarkable landscape, mostly devoid of dense vegetation but overflowing with alpine lakes. Hikers, four-wheelers, and cows all left their marks. As the title states, this is a great way to get started hiking in Desolation Wilderness. Hiking and backpacking at its finest, through pastoral grasslands and forests of pine and fur. It can be difficult to find solitude, especially if you’re hiking to Lake Aloha or up Pyramid Peak on a summer weekend. Sneak in the side door for a private viewing of the finest in California's High Sierra real estate. Because of its beauty and accessibility, Desolation Wilderness is one of the most heavily used wilderness areas in the United States. 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. 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. In order to protect its unique beauty and wilderness character, human access is limited and certain activities are restricted in the Desolation. Plant Life Cedar, pines, firs, mountain grass, and wildflowers characterize the area. While Sawtooth Lake grabs the limelight, behind the scenes lie crowd-free peace and splendor. It's bounded by logging roads and operations to the north and west, Lake Tahoe to the east, and US 50 to the south. Hiking Great! Add Your Gems. We completed this short distance backpacking trip over 3 days in July of 2018. Route Name: Bayview Trailhead Location: South Lake Tahoe, California Duration: 3 days minimum Length:22 km / 13.8 miles +/- 3,000 feet of elevation with a starting elevation of 6,970 feet and a peak elevation of 9,660 feet. This loop traverses over Rockbound Pass and Dicks Pass on its way to the beautiful Lake Aloha. Backpack to this secluded destination that's hidden from most of the traffic in Desolation Wilderness. If you're looking for a real adventure, you can try turning this loop into a day hike. Little Known Fact: Desolation Wilderness is the most heavily used wilderness area per acre in the United States. Closest to the wilderness border is Bayview Campground (916 544-5994) to the east. This means packing out all your trash … This trail offers great views with a variety of terrains. 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. The Desolation Wilderness requires all day-hikers and overnight visitors to have a backcountry permit — yes, even day-hikers. If you want to avoid that, you can do this as an out and back starting from the Eagle lake trail head. Desolation Valley is a 5-square-mile granite bowl. Hikers climbing out of the densely wooded Lake Tahoe basin are often startled by the Desolation Wilderness' sudden expanse of glacially polished scenery. 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. This 4-day backpacking adventure through Desolation Wilderness was the second half of the mountaineering course. Facilities Camping is primitive in the wilderness area. Lay claim to your own California mountain valley and bask in utter solitude. This is a great overnight backpacking trip that features some of the best of Desolation Wilderness. Here's what you need to prep for a solo jaunt in Desolation Wilderness! But be warned, Desolation's excellent trout fishing and relative accessibility draw a lot of visitors, making some areas less than desolate. Contact the Eldorado Information Center in Camino for more permit information. The hike over Rockbound Pass is far less crowded than many of the trails on the eastern side of the wilderness. 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). A Guide to Desolation Wilderness is available from the Forest Service. Before European settlers arrived, it was occupied by Washoe people. 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. Highlights include alpine lakes, granite peaks, and expansive views of Desolation Wilderness. Order to protect its unique beauty and accessibility, Desolation Wilderness the Pacific crest trail located west of Tahoe! In utter solitude walk up to the Wilderness unique beauty and accessibility, Desolation 's excellent trout fishing and accessibility... And Dicks Lake, granite Lake loop you need to walk the extra distance to beautiful. 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