If you have a large group, you may want to consider areas outside of designated Wilderness. The view at the top of Jacks Peak is a statement of why this area is called “Desolation Wilderness”. the Desolation Canyon Wilderness Area for 43.7 miles. Trying to squeeze in one last hike before winter sets in, I called on Kannon to finish the portion of the Desolation Wilderness that the Brokeback partners didn't get a chance to finish on our last trip. Today was our last day on the trail and we had planned to go back to the parking lot. The photographs below are a small testimony of what we experienced. This may sound strange to some ears, but I will always prefer snow over loose rocks and brushes. Wrights Lake Campground is situated in the timber belt, close to the lake shore, looking up at the majestic rocky peaks of the Sierra Nevadas and Desolation Wilderness. There is no official sign at the top. From the trailhead, you will follow Pyramid Creek Trail into 14 Tips for hiking in Desolation Wilderness, The Underwater Forest of Fallen Leaf Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake: How this Sierra Mountain Lake got its name, Glen Alpine Trail: From Lilly Lake and Modjeska Falls to the Old Resort and Grass Lake, Modjeska Falls: a seasonal beauty with a historically famous name, The Maiden’s Grave: A story of hope, loss and mistaken graves, The Murderous Tale of Tragedy Spring and the Mormon Emigrant Trail, USOUTDOOR.com Sale! Phone: (530) 293-3510 . It then turns onto a steep and stunning canyon with expansive views of the southern flanks of Desolation Wilderness. We had a great time exploring this region of Desolation Wilderness. Desolation Wilderness Area ... Day permits are available at trailheads but overnight permits must be obtained from a ranger station. Trip Overview: ~38 mile backpacking trip in Desolation Wilderness near South Lake Tahoe. I complained again that if done in the winter, this crossing would have been a breeze using crampons and an ice axe.We finally made it to the ridge east of Dicks peak. Taylor Creek Station. Fallen Leaf road is not plowed during winter. Finding a good campsite is hard around Dicks Lake - I recommend the northern and eastern shores. It has extensive areas of bare granite rock formations.. A list of other trailheads that provide access to the wilderness follows. After 3 miles, you will pass a lodge. … If going during peak season, I highly recommend reserving your permit in advance as it fills up quickly. Child (12 years and younger): Free. We figured this would be an unofficial “off the beaten path” trail and enjoyed the idea of going back this way. It required going a few hundred feet down, then going back up. Backpack to this secluded destination that's hidden from most of the traffic in Desolation Wilderness. Our intention was to blend regular trail backpacking and off-trail exploration. Samuel Loy About Companies Adventure Reports Contact Companies Adventure Reports Contact Lake Aloha quickly became one of my favorite backcountry lakes in the Sierra. The fishing in all the Lakes is supposed to be quite decent. Save up to 70% off Outdoor Gear & Apparel. The trail from Glen Alpine to Lake Aloha is well marked and quite easy to follow. Phone: (530) 543-2674 . After scrambling a few more hundred feet up through loose rocks and dense brushes, we made it to the top of Jacks peak. As I like to say, the Sierra never disappoints. Check out more of my Desolation Wilderness adventures. Please follow my adventures and news content by visiting Calexplornia daily or clicking on one of my Social Media accounts below. All funding comes from the USFS via donations in the box at the Pacific Ranger Station, overnight permit fees, parking fees (Twin Bridges and Eagle Falls), and grants written by the USFS on behalf of the Desolation Wilderness Volunteers. Desolation is a popular backpacking destination, with much barren rocky terrain at the edge of the tree line. From South Lake Tahoe, get on Highway 89 heading north and take a left on Fallen Leaf Road. It seemed that the obvious way to get back to our car was to join Glen Alpine Trail, however we usually prefer doing loops than going back the way we came from. A free wilderness permit is required for the day hike. The remaining 1) Campfires are prohibited inside Desolation Wilderness. It then turns to an actual trail and winds up through beautiful forests and meadows. +/- 3,000 feet of elevation with a starting elevation of 6,970 feet and a peak elevation of 9,660 feet. The Desolation Wilderness lies in the north of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, close to Lake Tahoe. Dates: June 27-28, 2009 Duration: 2 days, 1 night Mileage: ~?? When we got to Tahoe Ranger STation… After studying our maps, I had decided we would travel off-trail and join Dicks Lake (our destination) by way of two-mountain passes: Jacks peak and Dicks Peak. However, this statement might differ based on the weather conditions, the overall pack’s weight and one’s ability to deal with actual climbing.Jacks Peak is a little bit deceiving in the sense that there are several false summits before reaching the actual peak.We got up the first summit and rested near a lake, we then hiked for about 1/2 mile to a large rock field. You can pick up permits at ranger stations or fill out overnight ones online. It was Tuesday, September 15. This trail (which remains anonymous as of the time when this is written) was very secluded and showed significant signs of bear activity - testimony of the very few people who seem to use it. View of north side of Aloha Lake while climbing Jacks Peak, Resting before the final push towards Jacks Peak, View of the ridge from Jacks Peak to Dicks Peak, View of Dicks Lake from the summit of Jacks Peak, View of Dicks Lake from eastern ridge of Dicks Peak. The proximity to the lake makes it a popular destination. Maps and trail information are available at the Carson Ranger Station. The permits list your information, where you are going and allow rangers to know where you are hiking. 2) The maximum number of people per group, day trip or overnighter is 12. Alternatively you can fill the wilderness permits up in any major trail head. My goal is to inspire you to get out there and explore this amazing state. Permit information., Planning tips, Routes and Maps • Consider the size of your group and the skill level of the least experienced person in your group. ... During the winter, day permits are available at the Pacific Ranger Station. Permits are capped for each wilderness zone. The Ralston Peak trail head is not considered major, as I did not see any place to self issue a wilderness permit. Desolation Wilderness Volunteers is a volunteer organization that works directly with and under the USFS. Past Susie Lake, the trail follows its path towards Heather Lake and climbs another 600 ft for 2 miles towards Lake Aloha. The hike up was less than 4 miles with an elevation gain of less than 1,000 feet ( you start high). On river left, 68.8 miles of the 84 miles are managed by the Uintah-Ouray tribal government and 13.8 miles are within that portion of the Desolation Canyon Wilderness Study Area managed by the Moab Field Office. ... You can line up mega-early and pick up a permit at either the Pacific Ranger Station or the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Supervisor’s Office. The trail going down the canyon was exceptionally steep and took us 1,600 ft down for about 1.5 miles. The climbing never got difficult to the point that we would require ropes and climbing gear. After studying various maps and talking to rangers, we set a route. The scenery is breathtaking and difficult to describe with words. From there we could see Jacks Peak’s summit. John Muir referred to the Sierra Nevada as "the most beautiful of all the mountain chains" or, more poetically, "the range of light." I plan on backpacking for a two night trip in Desolation Wilderness starting at the Pyramid Creek Trailhead with a few friends. 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… Crystal Info Center. You can get one at the Pacific Ranger District Ranger station in Pollock Pines. The campground offers dozens of campsites for tent and RV camping. Camping and Lodging near Pyramid Peak Camping 50% of the permits are available to reserve beforehand and the other 50% are available the day of the trip at the ranger station near Pollock Pines. I started complaining about the fact that the section we had just done would have been much easier, safer and quicker, if covered with snow. The Desolation Wilderness is within the Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, in El Dorado County, California. The Desolation Wilderness consists of a network of rugged granite peaks (typical of the Sierra), large alpine lakes, low elevation forests and high elevation meadows. For day hikers, permits are free. The Desolation Wilderness is located just to the southwest of Lake Tahoe and north of Highway 50. The Desolation Wilderness requires all day-hikers and overnight visitors to have a backcountry permit — yes, even day-hikers. Normal Season: Day users may obtain a free permit from the Placerville Ranger Station, or may issue themselves a … Located west of Lake Tahoe and north of Highway 50, the Desolation Wilderness is a spectacular area of subalpine and alpine forests, granitic peaks, and glacially formed valleys and lake basins. On the southern shore of Gilmore Lake, we made a right turn on a very narrow - almost hard to see - trail and followed it down. Top. We set off and followed the PCT back to Dicks pass (1.3 miles). The two most convenient are on Highway 50 near Placerville (916-644-6048) and in South Lake Tahoe (916-573-2600). As a consequence, there are endless possibilities for exploring the backcountry. In the winter, make sure to use proper gear. 2020 Season: Hard-copy Day Use Permits will be temporarily suspended in Desolation Wilderness for the 2020 season, due to the current COVID-19 situation. The high grade and loose rocks made the crossing long and frustrating. The Tahoe Rim Trail and Pacific Crest Trail pass through the wilderness. After following the ridge for a few hundred feet, we joined the PCT heading down towards Dicks Lake, In hindsight, climbing Dicks Peak would have been a lot of fun and might have taken less time than the crossing we went through. Forest ranger Miranda Leconte prepares a meal while working in the Desolation Wilderness. Access is available from the Mount Rose Highway (Nevada Highway 431) at Timberline Road, Galena Creek County Park and Mount Rose Summit. We completed this short distance backpacking trip over 3 days in July of 2018. The terrain consisted mainly of loose rocks which made our feet quite sore. It provides endless camping opportunities and is spacious enough so that you will experience true backcountry solitude. At waterfall camp, you'll have the opportunity to explore over 50 waterfalls. At one point, we had to lower our packs in order to safely climb down without that weight on our back. Description: The Desolation Wilderness encompasses 64,053 acres of rugged alpine terrain in the Tahoe region of the Sierra Nevada. However, the $6/permit reservation fee still applies. The few bouldering sections are relatively easy and display large grips. The area is well-known for its hiking, wildflowers and birding. Continue towards the fire station. Lake Aloha is a large Alpine Lake which sits at 8,100 ft. You can’t actually see the actual summit of Jacks Peak from its base. Overnight permits must be reserved in advance and picked up at the ranger station. Basic Guide for Exploring the Desolation Wilderness. Desolation Wilderness Area ─ Use Permits. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through the length of the wilderness, and its proximity to roads makes it one of the more easily accessible wildernesses in the Sierra. A large field of sharp granite seems to dominate the landscape. The following is a list to better prepare you for your next Desolation Wilderness adventure: For a list of Desolation Wilderness trailheads, click here. 3) Dogs must be on a leash at all times. Overnight Recreation Fee: There is a per person fee for a Desolation Wilderness Overnight Permit. Snow chained may be required. There is a $5.00 fee to park in the parking area at Twin Bridges. It sits well above the tree line, making it a perfect spot to enjoy 360 degrees views of the surrounding mountains. Signed up for a meet-up hike to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. However, since Desolation Wilderness is filled with lakes, mountain peaks, changing weather and wildlife, it can also be a dangerous place for those who are inexperienced. Phone: (530) 543-2600 35 College Drive South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150. However, since it was August, we opted for a late evening swim in the fresh water lake, before setting our tent and getting ready for the night. Permits are required year-round for both day and overnight use. 4) Check in with the ranger stations for campground restrictions. If the first section up Jacks peak consisted of an easy class 3, I would rate the way down towards the ridge as an average to difficult class 3.We really wanted to make it up to Dicks Peak, but it started getting late in the day. During peak season, the parking lot fills quickly and it can be tricky to find a spot. Map. Being the good law-abiding firearm owner that I am, I called the NF office to assure myself that open carry in the Eldorado National Forest is legal and allowed. You can fill out a permit at the trailheads. We enjoyed a warm meal and had a restful night. The road ends in a parking lot where the trail starts. Hikers climbing out of the densely wooded Lake Tahoe basin are often startled by the Desolation Wilderness' sudden expanse of … Easy marked dirt trail then on the granite there were stones lined along the way to … The trail climbs 1,300 ft for 3.5 miles to Susie Lake, which is the first real Alpine Lake you will encounter. The unmaintained trail goes past Horsetail Falls (a neat destination itself) up to several beautiful lakes in Desolation Wilderness. It is accessible from the Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin. The coordinates are 38.877214, -120.080302.Warning: This trailhead is quite remote. Phone: (530) 644-2324 4260 Eight Mile Road Camino, CA 95709. Dicks Lake, while beautiful and unique is less welcoming to campers than Lake Aloha. This loop traverses over Rockbound Pass and Dicks Pass on its way to the beautiful Lake Aloha. I would rate this as a class 3. Therefore we decided to cut the ridge and cross the southeastern flank of Dicks Peak, right below the peak. From as far away as Sacramento, I could see the smoke from the fire in the distance, growing larger the closer I got to… Desolation Wilderness - Pyramid Lake. Make sure to empty your car of all food items (this is prime bear country), take your permit, and you are good to go ! Several sites offer sweeping views of Wrights Lake. As the sun sets, the last dim of light slowly vanishes behind the surrounding peaks and is slowly replaced by a red glow that surrounds the lake and provides magnificent colors to that environment. This trail crosses a beautiful forrest of pines for 1 mile. Desolation Annual Pass Holder: Free. Desolation Wilderness. This trip is reserved for people who are confident going off trail and familiar with navigating in the backcountry, using topographic maps or a GPS. From there, the road becomes unmaintained, yet still manageable for non-SUVs. Without any climbing gear whatsoever, we proceeded carefully. Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Day use is not subject to fees nor limited by quota at any time of the year. It is also a popular section for PCT thru-hikers. You will need to obtain backcountry permits at one of the 3 Ranger Stations (two of them being located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe). You must camp in the designated zone on the first night but are free to camp anywhere on the nights that follow. Get Your Permit – Never hike in Desolation Wilderness without filling out your permit. Fees are charged as follows: Adult (over 12 years in age): $5 per person for the 1st night; $10 for 2-14 nights. Most of the hiking is done between 6,000 and 10,000 ft. My brother and I had 3 spare days to spend in the backcountry in the summer of 2018. Permits are required – day use permits can be issued at the trail. It is located in a steep bowl that offers very few visible flat spots. The trail from Gilmore Lake to Glen Alpine trailhead, Crampons (recommended in heavy snow conditions). We made our way up, sometimes hiking steep uphills, sometimes doing actual climbing. The adventure starts at Glen Alpine Falls. However, after scrambling through trees, we found a spot right by the water. Desolation wilderness is not so desolate. That section was probably the sketchiest. Just west of Northern California's Lake Tahoe is a remarkable landscape, mostly devoid of dense vegetation but overflowing with alpine lakes. From there we could see Dicks Peak and Dicks Lake in the distance. So we looked at our different maps and noticed a trail north of Glen Alpine that existed on certain maps but was absent on others. This wilderness straddles both sides of the Sierra Nevada, averages 12.5 miles in length and eight miles in width, and has elevations ranging from about 6,500 feet to over 10,000 feet. Nearest Nevada Towns: Reno and Incline Village If you choose not to take the water taxi, add 5 miles to the overall trip. Desolation Wilderness Thanks to it’s breathtaking granite landscape and easy accessibility, the Desolation Wilderness is one of the most popular wilderness areas in the country. The first mile consists of a unmaintained concrete road winding up past Lily Lake. We hiked this section at the end of the day and I found the colors to be stunning. Placerville Ranger District. We woke up to a beautiful sunny day. After many years of being a full time freelance writer, and a long time resident of this state, I've decided to turn my full attention toward California by exploring all that it has to offer. 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. The Mount Rose Wilderness is located southwest of Reno, Nevada. Highlights include alpine lakes, granite peaks, and expansive views of Desolation Wilderness. This adventure can be done throughout the year. It is part of the Eldorado National Forrest and managed by the Forrest Service. From this point, we would be going off-trail. I was driving on Highway 50 to the Pacific Ranger Station at Pollock Pines to pick up my permit for the Desolation Wilderness for the week. We packed our gear and headed north of Aloha Lake towards the base of Jacks Peak (see the map for more details). This wilderness area is in the Sierra Mountain range where rugged natural wonders rule. This part of the Desolation is known for browns and Crag Lake has some fine fish ... Day permits are available at trailheads but overnight permits must be obtained from a ranger station. https://www.gaiagps.com/hike/united-states/california/desolation-wilderness My conclusion of this summer trip was that this is a great area for winter snowshoeing and backcountry skiing. How to Obtain an Overnight Permit for Desolation Wilderness 1) Pre-trip Planning: • Carefully review Desolation Wilderness rules and regulations. We set up our tent and called it a night. From Jacks Peak’s summit, the ridge towards Dicks Peak made itself quite obvious. From there, we followed the PCT trail to Gilmore Lake for another 2.5 miles. We headed out on a sunny Sunday to Lake Aloha. The crest of the Sierra Nevada is found here. Trip Overview: ~12 mile relaxing backpacking trip in Desolation Wilderness. 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. Than 4 miles with an elevation gain of less than 1,000 feet ( you high. Turns onto a steep and stunning canyon with expansive views of the surrounding.. Actual trail and we had planned to go back to the southwest of Lake Tahoe, get Highway! 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