Desolation Wilderness (El Dorado forests), near Tahoe
Pictures of Desolation Wilderness.
True to it's name, Desolation Wilderness area is one of the best place for hiking. It's a true wilderness experience, with pristine lakes and spectacular mountains scenery. You can approach the trails through the south, north, east or west side.
For our very first time in the area, we chose the trail from Echo Lakes to Lake Aloha.
From US 50 highway, if coming from Sacramento, turn left onto Echo Summit Rd/Johnson Pass Rd and then turn left onto Echo Lakes Rd/Forest Route 11N05/Porcuine Rd. Continue to follow Echo Lakes Rd and you will shortly see a parking lot on your left. It is the Echo Chalet. (You can look for directions to Echo Chalet on google maps).
Parking is sufficient and is free. This area is under the El Dorado National Forests Services and has several trails and some campgrounds. For camping, permits are required but not for day users. Day users just need to sign in or get a permit from the self-kiosk at the beginning of the trail. There is a small store and some toilets at the beginning of the trail. Toilets are not clean at all, so be prepared ahead of time.
It is around 12-miles round trip with not many people on the trail, which makes it even better. Most people backpack there. There is 2 miles of uphill one way, while going up towards Lake Aloha and the terrain is quite rocky.
There are several short trails on the sides, on the trail, that you can take to increase your hiking mileage. For people who want to cut the main trail short by 3 miles each way, there are water taxis available after 2-3 miles of going up. The water taxis are not open all the time, so check before hand.
We went in September end and needed a jacket, even when it was sunny. Totally worth it and now I have to look for the next trail at Desolation Wilderness for our next hike.