Dicks Lake ~ Desolation Wilderness

Discover the Beauty of Dicks Lake in Desolation Wilderness

As an outdoor enthusiast, you’re in for a treat with a journey to Dicks Lake, nestled within the picturesque Desolation Wilderness. This stunning alpine lake, located at the base of Dicks Pass just west of Mt. Tallac, offers a pristine natural escape that’s perfect for both day hikers and backpackers. In this guide, we’ll explore the Bayview Trailhead near Emerald Bay as your starting point, with the option of turning this day hike into a backpacking adventure in the future.

Bayview Trailhead: Your Gateway to Dicks Lake

The adventure begins at the Bayview Trailhead, conveniently situated near Emerald Bay. Here, you’ll embark on a 5.3-mile moderate hike that offers an excellent balance of challenge and reward. The trail takes you on an incredible journey with diverse terrain, stunning vistas, and the promise of Dicks Lake at the end.

The initial part of the hike presents you with a thrilling vertical switchback climb, leading from the parking area to the saddle below Maggie’s Peak. This ascent is not only a great workout but also a gateway to one of Lake Tahoe’s iconic vista views. Don’t miss the opportunity to conquer Maggie’s Peak and witness the breathtaking beauty of the basin.

On the Way to Dicks Lake Stop on trail for this iconic Photo of Emerald Bay

The Path to Dicks Lake

Once you’ve reached the saddle, the trail levels out, offering an easy-to-follow, wide path that winds through the wilderness for several miles. As you tread along, you’ll be surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, providing an immersive experience of the Desolation Wilderness. You can see glimpses of Azure Lake down below the trail to the south. As well as pass the exit to the popular trail to the Velmas. Before you start climbing again to Dicks Lake you will pass a small un named oasis lagoon area which is spectacular in its own right.

In the final stretch of your journey, a granite switchback trail awaits. This one-mile segment will test your determination but will also serve as a rewarding prelude to your arrival at Dicks Lake. The effort you put into this final climb is well worth the breathtaking beauty that unfolds when you reach the lake. Just prior to the lake you will cross over the PCT trail leading you to a world of other adventures.

Dicks Lake: An Oasis in Desolation

Dicks Lake is a haven for backpackers, offering a range of campsites along the northern and western sides of the lake. If you’re seeking a bit more privacy or a future backpacking excursion, consider exploring the area between Dicks Lake and Fontanillis Lake. The tranquility of this region is sure to capture your heart, making it an ideal choice for a more extended wilderness experience.

Backpacking Requirements for Dicks Lake:

Some essential tips on backpacking permits for Desolation Wilderness:

1. Obtain a Permit:

Before setting out on your backpacking adventure in Desolation Wilderness, you must obtain a permit. These permits help manage the wilderness area, ensuring that it remains pristine and enjoyable for all visitors. Permits are available through the U.S. Forest Service and recreation.gov.

2. Types of Permits:

There are two main types of permits you should be aware of:

  • Overnight Permit: For backpackers looking to spend the night in the wilderness, you’ll need an overnight permit. These allow you to camp in the area, and you’ll need to specify your chosen camping location.
  • California Campfire Permit – in California all backpackers are required to get afire permit to use their camp stoves. Campfires Are not allowed in Desolation wilderness, so this can be confusing. But the California Fire Permit if for your Camp stove. It does not give you the right to build a camp fire in Desolation wilderness.

3. Reservation or Walk-In:

Depending on the popularity of the trail and the time of year, you may be able to reserve your permit in advance, or you may need to secure it as a walk-in at the nearby ranger station. It’s advisable to check the specific reservation and walk-in policies for Desolation Wilderness in advance.

4. Popular Trailheads:

Some trailheads, like the Bayview Trailhead near Emerald Bay, can be in high demand. Make sure to plan well in advance if you intend to start your journey from one of these popular entry points. This will increase your chances of securing a permit for your preferred date.

5. Group Size:

Permit requirements often consider the size of your group. Be sure to accurately represent the number of people in your party when obtaining your permit.

6. Leave No Trace:

As you prepare for your backpacking trip, familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace principles. Desolation Wilderness is a protected area, and it’s crucial to minimize your impact by practicing responsible wilderness ethics.

7. Know the Rules:

Familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations for Desolation Wilderness. These can include campfire restrictions, waste disposal guidelines, and pet policies. Compliance is essential for preserving the pristine environment and enjoying your trip without issue.

Whether you’re visiting for the day or contemplating an overnight adventure, Dicks Lake in the Desolation Wilderness is a place of natural wonder and serenity that promises unforgettable memories. Explore the pristine landscapes, take in the fresh mountain air, and immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of Dicks Lake.

Dicks Lake is more than just a destination; it’s an experience waiting to be had. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and embark on a journey to one of the Sierra’s hidden gems. Dicks Lake and the Desolation Wilderness are calling, and it’s time to answer that call.

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