Desolation Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness

100 Forni Rd.
Placerville, California 95667
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Local Phone: (530) 622-5061

With numerous alpine lakes, scenic waterfalls and towering granite peaks, Desolation Wilderness is a perfect location for a summer trip.

Whether you want an arduous climb or a relaxing walk, you'll find what you're looking for here. While summertime draws the most visitors, during the winter, the area becomes a popular playground for experienced backcountry skiers and snowshoers.

Thanks to its breathtaking granite landscape and surrounding scenery, as well as relative accessibility, Desolation Wilderness is one of the most popular wilderness areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Long recognized for its mountain splendor, Desolation Valley Primitive Area was established in 1931 and granted wilderness status in 1969. It is located west of Lake Tahoe and north of Highway 50 in El Dorado County, California. It straddles the crest of the Sierra Nevada range, encompassing 63,690 acres, and has elevations ranging from 6,500 feet to nearly 10,000 feet.

Lake Aloha is a feature of the wilderness area, with shallow, clear waters sitting in a wide, granite basin carved by glaciers in the most recent ice age. The Crystal Range is also within the area, with Pyramid Peak as the highest point both in the range and the wilderness, topping out at 9,987 feet. Horsetail Falls, which tumbles in stages for nearly 500 feet, is just one of the area's many waterfalls.

• Dogs must be leashed.

backpacking, hiking, dog friendly ,wilderness

Camping! Photo BIlly Goodman
Camping! Photo BIlly Goodman
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Most hiking trails around Lake Tahoe—and there are hundreds—can be enjoyed in the company of your best friend. For a short hike with liquid rewards, pack a picnic and take an easy, 3.5-mile round-trip stroll to gorgeous Fallen Leaf Lake, second-largest body of water in the Tahoe Basin and easily accessible from a parking lot just off Highway 89. Also easy-going is the mile-in, mile-out Cascade Falls trail, accessed from a trailhead at Inspiration Point near Emerald Bay. more »
 There are reasons why the section of the Pacific Crest Trail leading from Echo Chalet into Desolation Wilderness (part of the Eldorado National Forest) is so doggone popular: It's easy most of the way, you can take a boat taxi back if you tucker out-and you can grab a cold one at the store by the trailhead. 
Photo: "Echo Chalet" - Glen Gould (CC) more »
Golden in the Nation ForestEighteen national forests encompassing 20 million acres of land are found in the Golden State. In Northern California, national forests blanket the spine of the Sierra, the crest of the Cascades and much of the far north. Forests most accessible to the Bay Area and Sacramento are listed below.
Photo: Janet Fullwood  more »
Echo Lake
Pick a bluebird day and pack plenty of pep for an excursion to Echo Lakes, southern gateway to Desolation Wilderness and one of the most glorious (and dog-friendly) ski and snowshoe destinations in the Sierra. more »
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