Overnight permits must be reserved in advance and picked up at the ranger station. You must camp in the designated zone on the first night but are free to camp anywhere on the nights that follow. Without any climbing gear whatsoever, we proceeded carefully. 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. 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. The area is well-known for its hiking, wildflowers and birding. 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. From there, we followed the PCT trail to Gilmore Lake for another 2.5 miles. 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. That section was probably the sketchiest. Highlights include alpine lakes, granite peaks, and expansive views of Desolation Wilderness. The Desolation Wilderness is located just to the southwest of Lake Tahoe and north of Highway 50. Make sure to empty your car of all food items (this is prime bear country), take your permit, and you are good to go ! the Desolation Canyon Wilderness Area for 43.7 miles. The adventure starts at Glen Alpine Falls. 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. Desolation is a popular backpacking destination, with much barren rocky terrain at the edge of the tree line. The campground offers dozens of campsites for tent and RV camping. Crystal Info Center. After scrambling a few more hundred feet up through loose rocks and dense brushes, we made it to the top of Jacks peak. You can’t actually see the actual summit of Jacks Peak from its base. We hiked this section at the end of the day and I found the colors to be stunning. Dicks Lake, while beautiful and unique is less welcoming to campers than Lake Aloha. It then turns to an actual trail and winds up through beautiful forests and meadows. How to Obtain an Overnight Permit for Desolation Wilderness 1) Pre-trip Planning: • Carefully review Desolation Wilderness rules and regulations. As a consequence, there are endless possibilities for exploring the backcountry. The view at the top of Jacks Peak is a statement of why this area is called “Desolation Wilderness”. 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. Taylor Creek Station. From South Lake Tahoe, get on Highway 89 heading north and take a left on Fallen Leaf Road. Therefore we decided to cut the ridge and cross the southeastern flank of Dicks Peak, right below the peak. ... During the winter, day permits are available at the Pacific Ranger Station. Phone: (530) 543-2600 35 College Drive South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150. Finding a good campsite is hard around Dicks Lake - I recommend the northern and eastern shores. 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. It is also a popular section for PCT thru-hikers. ... 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. A list of other trailheads that provide access to the wilderness follows. Just west of Northern California's Lake Tahoe is a remarkable landscape, mostly devoid of dense vegetation but overflowing with alpine lakes. Desolation Wilderness - Pyramid Lake. Desolation Annual Pass Holder: Free. Dates: June 27-28, 2009 Duration: 2 days, 1 night Mileage: ~?? The trail going down the canyon was exceptionally steep and took us 1,600 ft down for about 1.5 miles. This may sound strange to some ears, but I will always prefer snow over loose rocks and brushes. Child (12 years and younger): Free. Phone: (530) 293-3510 . The climbing never got difficult to the point that we would require ropes and climbing gear. 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. It is part of the Eldorado National Forrest and managed by the Forrest Service. The road ends in a parking lot where the trail starts. We packed our gear and headed north of Aloha Lake towards the base of Jacks Peak (see the map for more details). Basic Guide for Exploring the Desolation Wilderness. Desolation Wilderness Area ... Day permits are available at trailheads but overnight permits must be obtained from a ranger station. Get Your Permit – Never hike in Desolation Wilderness without filling out your permit. We headed out on a sunny Sunday to Lake Aloha. At one point, we had to lower our packs in order to safely climb down without that weight on our back. 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). Permits are required year-round for both day and overnight use. 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. You can pick up permits at ranger stations or fill out overnight ones online. Desolation wilderness is not so desolate. Most of the hiking is done between 6,000 and 10,000 ft. 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. Forest ranger Miranda Leconte prepares a meal while working in the Desolation Wilderness. Desolation Wilderness Area ─ Use Permits. We set off and followed the PCT back to Dicks pass (1.3 miles). 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 we could see Dicks Peak and Dicks Lake in the distance. From there, the road becomes unmaintained, yet still manageable for non-SUVs. 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. Alternatively you can fill the wilderness permits up in any major trail head. From there we could see Jacks Peak’s summit. However, after scrambling through trees, we found a spot right by the water. 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. As I like to say, the Sierra never disappoints. https://www.gaiagps.com/hike/united-states/california/desolation-wilderness Camping and Lodging near Pyramid Peak Camping We figured this would be an unofficial “off the beaten path” trail and enjoyed the idea of going back this way. John Muir referred to the Sierra Nevada as "the most beautiful of all the mountain chains" or, more poetically, "the range of light." 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. Trip Overview: ~38 mile backpacking trip in Desolation Wilderness near South Lake Tahoe. Day use is not subject to fees nor limited by quota at any time of the year. Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. From this point, we would be going off-trail. It then turns onto a steep and stunning canyon with expansive views of the southern flanks of Desolation Wilderness. It has extensive areas of bare granite rock formations.. After studying various maps and talking to rangers, we set a route. My goal is to inspire you to get out there and explore this amazing state. You can fill out a permit at the trailheads. After 3 miles, you will pass a lodge. My conclusion of this summer trip was that this is a great area for winter snowshoeing and backcountry skiing. The two most convenient are on Highway 50 near Placerville (916-644-6048) and in South Lake Tahoe (916-573-2600). The hike up was less than 4 miles with an elevation gain of less than 1,000 feet ( you start high). 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. Access is available from the Mount Rose Highway (Nevada Highway 431) at Timberline Road, Galena Creek County Park and Mount Rose Summit. Hikers climbing out of the densely wooded Lake Tahoe basin are often startled by the Desolation Wilderness' sudden expanse of … Our intention was to blend regular trail backpacking and off-trail exploration. The photographs below are a small testimony of what we experienced. 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… The trail from Gilmore Lake to Glen Alpine trailhead, Crampons (recommended in heavy snow conditions). 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. We woke up to a beautiful sunny day. • Consider the size of your group and the skill level of the least experienced person in your group. The trail climbs 1,300 ft for 3.5 miles to Susie Lake, which is the first real Alpine Lake you will encounter. Phone: (530) 644-2324 4260 Eight Mile Road Camino, CA 95709. Phone: (530) 543-2674 . We enjoyed a warm meal and had a restful night. 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. We made our way up, sometimes hiking steep uphills, sometimes doing actual climbing. 3) Dogs must be on a leash at all times. The Desolation Wilderness requires all day-hikers and overnight visitors to have a backcountry permit — yes, even day-hikers. Save up to 70% off Outdoor Gear & Apparel. Fees are charged as follows: Adult (over 12 years in age): $5 per person for the 1st night; $10 for 2-14 nights. 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. Fallen Leaf road is not plowed during winter. This loop traverses over Rockbound Pass and Dicks Pass on its way to the beautiful Lake Aloha. This trail crosses a beautiful forrest of pines for 1 mile. 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. 1) Campfires are prohibited inside Desolation Wilderness. The unmaintained trail goes past Horsetail Falls (a neat destination itself) up to several beautiful lakes in Desolation Wilderness. 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. At waterfall camp, you'll have the opportunity to explore over 50 waterfalls. 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. 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. Today was our last day on the trail and we had planned to go back to the parking lot. It provides endless camping opportunities and is spacious enough so that you will experience true backcountry solitude. The coordinates are 38.877214, -120.080302.Warning: This trailhead is quite remote. If you have a large group, you may want to consider areas outside of designated Wilderness. You can get one at the Pacific Ranger District Ranger station in Pollock Pines. The scenery is breathtaking and difficult to describe with words. Lake Aloha quickly became one of my favorite backcountry lakes in the Sierra. From Jacks Peak’s summit, the ridge towards Dicks Peak made itself quite obvious. When we got to Tahoe Ranger STation… The remaining 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. If you choose not to take the water taxi, add 5 miles to the overall trip. The few bouldering sections are relatively easy and display large grips. Permits are required – day use permits can be issued at the trail. The fishing in all the Lakes is supposed to be quite decent. This adventure can be done throughout the year. Placerville Ranger District. Permits are capped for each wilderness zone. The following is a list to better prepare you for your next Desolation Wilderness adventure: For a list of Desolation Wilderness trailheads, click here. Several sites offer sweeping views of Wrights Lake. We set up our tent and called it a night. The proximity to the lake makes it a popular destination. Past Susie Lake, the trail follows its path towards Heather Lake and climbs another 600 ft for 2 miles towards Lake Aloha. Description: The Desolation Wilderness encompasses 64,053 acres of rugged alpine terrain in the Tahoe region of the Sierra Nevada. For day hikers, permits are free. Maps and trail information are available at the Carson Ranger Station. 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. Desolation Wilderness. During peak season, the parking lot fills quickly and it can be tricky to find a spot. 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. If going during peak season, I highly recommend reserving your permit in advance as it fills up quickly. I plan on backpacking for a two night trip in Desolation Wilderness starting at the Pyramid Creek Trailhead with a few friends. A large field of sharp granite seems to dominate the landscape. In the winter, make sure to use proper gear. The trail from Glen Alpine to Lake Aloha is well marked and quite easy to follow. The crest of the Sierra Nevada is found here. +/- 3,000 feet of elevation with a starting elevation of 6,970 feet and a peak elevation of 9,660 feet. Permit information., Planning tips, Routes and Maps My brother and I had 3 spare days to spend in the backcountry in the summer of 2018. Overnight Recreation Fee: There is a per person fee for a Desolation Wilderness Overnight Permit. From the trailhead, you will follow Pyramid Creek Trail into … 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 completed this short distance backpacking trip over 3 days in July of 2018. This wilderness area is in the Sierra Mountain range where rugged natural wonders rule. Easy marked dirt trail then on the granite there were stones lined along the way to … The Mount Rose Wilderness is located southwest of Reno, Nevada. From as far away as Sacramento, I could see the smoke from the fire in the distance, growing larger the closer I got to… We had a great time exploring this region of Desolation Wilderness. The Ralston Peak trail head is not considered major, as I did not see any place to self issue a wilderness permit. 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. Desolation Wilderness Volunteers is a volunteer organization that works directly with and under the USFS. The Desolation Wilderness lies in the north of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, close to Lake Tahoe. The Tahoe Rim Trail and Pacific Crest Trail pass through the wilderness. 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. 2) The maximum number of people per group, day trip or overnighter is 12. The permits list your information, where you are going and allow rangers to know where you are hiking. Top. 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. It is accessible from the Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin. It sits well above the tree line, making it a perfect spot to enjoy 360 degrees views of the surrounding mountains. 4) Check in with the ranger stations for campground restrictions. Samuel Loy About Companies Adventure Reports Contact Companies Adventure Reports Contact 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. 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. 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. I would rate this as a class 3. Snow chained may be required. There is a $5.00 fee to park in the parking area at Twin Bridges. It was Tuesday, September 15. 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