Arguably the most
beautiful area in the Tahoe Sierra, with outstanding
lake views and abundant hiking and peakbagging
opportunities. It has the most
backcountry lakes in the Tahoe area, and the
most accessible and panoramic summits.
people hang out in this "wilderness".
Emerald Bay Hikes -- two
nice day hikes out of Emerald Bay. The first, Granite
Lake/Maggies Peaks, offers quick access to a nice
backcountry lake and an opportunity to bag a couple of
panoramic peaks on the edge of Lake Tahoe. The
second, to Eagle, Velma and Fontanillis Lakes, is a
longer journey to a series of
backcountry lakes below Dicks Peak.
Tallac -- steep day hike to a rocky summit offering
the best views in the entire Tahoe region.
Dicks & Jacks Peaks. Two more remote and
challenging summits, with unbelievable views.
Peak -- Long dayhike (or good multiday trip) to the highest summit in the Desolation Wilderness.
Mt. Price & Mt. Agassiz --
killer views and an airy traverse make a visit to these
two remote peaks a must-do for the Desolation
to Mt. Tallac via Dicks Pass
Lake Aloha and Desolation Valley from Glen Alpine
Rockbound Pass to Red Peak
Probably because it
is so close to population centers and easy to access from
major highways, the Desolation
Wilderness is one of the most heavily used wilderness areas
in the country. To preserve its natural beauty, the
Forest Service has restricted use to hikers, horses, llamas
and the like. In Desolation Wilderness there are no
buildings or roads. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not
permitted. Further, no wood fires are allowed -- you must
use a camp stove.
You must have a
permit for either day-use or overnight camping in
Desolation. There are fees for overnight camping
year-round. From the Friday before Memorial Day to September
30th, a quota of 700 overnight users entering
each day is in effect. Under the quota, each trailhead
has its own allowance of overnight visitors who enter each
day. It is wise to call ahead. Your permit is good at only
the trailhead you reserve, only on the date of entry and
only for the number of people specified. Moreover, for
your first night in the wilderness, you must stay in one of
30 or so designated "zones".
The maximum group
size for a permit is 12, and stays are limited to 14
consecutive days. During the off-quota season there is no
limit to the number of overnight users.
Day-use is currently
not limited any time of year; however, the Forest Service
may change this policy in the future if usage gets out of
hand. Self-issue day use permits are available at most
popular trailheads. For more information on permits,
fees and other bureaucratic red tape, visit the
Desolation Wilderness webpage.