Explore Lake of the Woods in Desolation wilderness

Welcome to Lake of the Woods: A Wilderness Oasis

Are you ready to embark on an adventure into the heart of Desolation Wilderness? Lake of the Woods beckons with its serene beauty and alpine charm. As an outdoor enthusiast, you’re in for a treat.

Lake of the woods Desolation
Lake of the woods Desolation

Lake of the Woods: A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Lake of the Woods is a hidden gem nestled in the Sierra Nevada, boasting emerald waters that mirror the azure skies. Surrounded by towering pines and rugged terrain, it’s a sanctuary for both solitude seekers and avid anglers. The crystal-clear lake waters are perfect for swimming, and the nearby trails invite exploration.

Trailhead and Stats:

  • Best Trailhead: Echo Lakes Trailhead
  • Mileage: Approximately 5 miles one way
  • Elevation Gain: 1600′ elevation gain
  • Desolation Backpacker Zone: 40
  • Terrain covered mostly Mix of Granite rock and Tree Covered Dirt sections.
  • Backpackers must carry a hard sided Bear Canister for food storage.
Map Susie Lake Basin desolation wilderness
Map Susie Lake Basin desolation wilderness

Prepare to immerse yourself in the serene personality of Lake of the Woods. Start your journey at the Echo Lakes Trailhead, and within a few miles, you’ll find yourself captivated by the lake’s tranquil beauty. This is your chance to experience nature at its best.

Along this trail you will pass by Upper Echo Lake, Tamarack Lake, Ralston Lakes as well as the trailheads to Lost Lakes. This trail is a busy trail with summers numbers in the hundreds of visitor’s on the trail but the number decrease each mile you travel as day hikers typically curl off to the lower lakes on day hikes. This route is also the same route as Lake aloha which draws hordes of visitors each summer, so at about the four mile mark you will cut off to Lake of the Woods and drop over a small ridge into the lake basin.

Lake of the Woods desolation wilderness
Lake of the Woods Desolation wilderness

Camping and Backpacking at Lake of the Woods: A Wilderness Experience

Lake of the Woods in Desolation Wilderness is not just a destination; it’s an invitation to immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the Sierra Nevada while camping and backpacking. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a first-time adventurer, Lake of the Woods offers a pristine and rewarding wilderness experience.

Camping at Lake of the Woods:

Camping at Lake of the Woods is a chance to reconnect with nature in its purest form. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Campsites: While there are no assigned campsites at Lake of the Woods, you can choose your spot along the lake’s shore that are well developed and easy to recognize, respecting Leave No Trace principles. The freedom to pick your own campsite allows for a more personalized and intimate experience with the wilderness.

2. Permits: Permits are required for camping in Desolation Wilderness year-round. You can obtain your permit through recreation.gov or the Eldorado National Forest website or at the Pacific Ranger Station in Pollock Pines. Be sure to secure your permit well in advance, especially during the peak hiking and camping seasons. Lake of the Woods is located in Zone 40. Desolation wilderness requires that backpackers select a Zone for their first nights stay and stay with in that Zone on night one.

3. Campfire Restrictions: To protect the fragile ecosystem of Desolation Wilderness, campfires are not allowed. Plan to bring a camp stove for cooking purposes, and be prepared to follow all fire regulations diligently. Violations for illegal campfires are steep. Please respect the No Fire policies of Desolation wilderness all year round.

Desolation Zone Map
Zone Map Desolation

Backpacking at Lake of the Woods:

For backpackers, Lake of the Woods offers an excellent opportunity to explore the surrounding wilderness. Here’s what you can expect:

1. Trailhead: The Echo Lakes Trailhead is the preferred starting point for backpackers heading to Lake of the Woods. From here, you’ll embark on a journey through stunning landscapes that lead you to this alpine gem. Alternative routes include: Ralston Peak Route, Horsetail falls Route and Glen Aulin route.

2. Distance and Elevation Gain: The trail from Echo Lakes to Lake of the Woods is approximately 5 miles one way, with a moderate elevation gain. While the hike isn’t overly strenuous, it rewards you with awe-inspiring vistas and the chance to witness the transformation of the wilderness as you ascend.

3. Backpacking Essentials: As you set out on your backpacking adventure, make sure to pack all the essentials, including proper gear, clothing, food, and a bear canister for food storage. Remember that bear safety is crucial in Desolation Wilderness, so be diligent about following guidelines. Bear Canisters are Now required for all backpackers in desolation wilderness. Bear Bags Are no longer an accepted method of food storage.

What to Expect at Lake of the Woods:

Upon reaching Lake of the Woods, you’ll be greeted by its crystal-clear waters, which mirror the surrounding granite peaks and vibrant wildflowers. The serene ambiance of the lake provides a perfect backdrop for relaxation, swimming, and simply soaking in the beauty of the wilderness.

Tips for a Memorable Experience:

  • Respect the natural environment by following Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash and waste, and minimize your impact on the ecosystem.
  • Stay bear-aware. Keep a clean camp, use bear canisters, and be prepared to encounter wildlife.
  • Capture the beauty of Lake of the Woods, but do so responsibly. Leave the wilderness as you found it to ensure future generations can enjoy its splendor.

Camping and backpacking at Lake of the Woods offer a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with the natural world. Whether you’re gazing at the starlit sky or waking up to the gentle lapping of the lake against the shore, Lake of the Woods promises an unforgettable wilderness experience.

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