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