Desolation Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness is a protected federal wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. At 63,960 acres, it located near the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe in central/eastern part of the state near the Nevada border.

The Desolation Wilderness is renowned for it high alpine lakes and granite mountains. Much of the area is open and above tree-line, thus allowing much off-trail exploration and amazing vistas. Backpacking or Scrambling trips of one to five or more nights are possible. The Pacific Crest Trail runs through the center of the area. The most popular place to backcountry camp is at Ahola Lake which is about a 6.5 mile hike from the main trailhead at Echo Lake. There is even a passenger ferry option along Echo lake that can shorten this hike by several miles.

Campsite reservations and Bear Canisters are required for all overnight trips. Reservations can be secured through up to six months ahead. This is a very poplar area and reservations, well in advance, will likely be needed during the prime summer months.  A four night itinerary with camps at Aloha  Lake, Dicks Lake, Schmidell Lake, Aloha Lake (43 miles) is a good route to see a large part of this spectacular area.

  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking, Scrambling
  • Seasons: June, July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 43.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 10,000 ft
  • 10,000 ft
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