|Trailheads on El Dorado National Forest (West) Side|
|Trailhead||Miles One Way||Difficulty|
|Twin Lakes to:||Grouse Lake||2.1||Moderate/Difficult|
|Trail Review here||Hemlock Lake||2.6||Difficult|
|Rockbound to:||Gertrude Lake||4.2||Moderate/Difficult|
|Lyons Creek to:||Sylvia Lake||4.6||Easy/Moderate|
|Twin Bridges to:||Avalanche Lake||1.8||Difficult|
|Lake of the Woods||3.6||Difficult|
|Ralston to:||Ralston Peak||4.1||Difficult|
|Lake of the Woods||5.3||Difficult|
|Tells Creek to:||Forni Lake||4.9||Moderate/Difficult|
|Loon Lake to:||Pleasant CG||4.1||Easy/Moderate|
|Buck Island Lake||6.1||Moderate|
|Trailheads on Lake Tahoe BMU (East) Side|
|Trailhead||Miles One Way||Difficutly|
|Echo Lake to:||Upper Echo Lake||2.5||Easy|
|Lake of the Woods||5.3||Moderate|
|Glen Alpine to:||Grass Lake||2.3||Easy/Moderate|
|Half Moon Lake||5.5||Moderate|
|Mt. Tallac Peak||5.7||Difficult|
|Mt Tallac to:||Floating Island Lake||1.7||Easy/Moderate|
|Bayview to:||Granite Lake||1.3||Moderate/Difficult|
|Upper Velma Lake||5.5||Difficult|
|Middle Velma Lake||6.5||Difficult|
|Eagle Falls to:||Eagle Lake||1.0||Moderate|
|Middle Velma Lake||4.4||Difficult|
|Meeks Bay to:||Lake Genevieve||4.6||Moderate|
|Trail Review Here||Crag Lake||4.9||Moderate|
|Stony Ridge Lake||6.3||Moderate|
Wilderness Permits & Zone Quotas
Because of its beauty and accessibility, Desolation Wilderness is one of the most heavily visited wilderness areas in the United States. In order to protect its unique beauty and wilderness character, human access is limited and certain
activities are restricted in Desolation.
- Permits are required year-round. A signed copy of your permit must be in your possession.
- Fees for overnight camping are required year-round.
- Day Use Permits: Day users may obtain a free permit from one of the offices, or may issue themselves a permit at most major trailheads during the summer.
- Day use is not subject to fees nor limited by the quota at any time of the year.
- Group size is limited to 12 people per party who will be hiking or camping together. Note: group size is also dependent on the number of people allowed in the zone.
- Overnight quota is based upon the number of people entering the wilderness each day, and their first night’s destination zone.
- Campfires are prohibited.
- You must enter on the date specified on your permit and you must spend your first night in the zone which you have chosen. The rest of your stay is not subject to zone requirements.
- Quota Period is from the Friday before Memorial Day through September 30.
- Reservations: 70% of the quota in each zone may be reserved up to 6 months in advance through Recreation.gov.
- Overnight users without reservations: The other 30% of the available quota is set aside for first-come, first-served visitors. These permits must be obtained in person at offices which issue Desolation Wilderness permits on the day of entry and may not be reserved ahead of time. During the off-quota season there is no limit to the number of overnight users and day of permits may be obtained at recreation.gov and printed at home or in person at offices which issue Desolation Wilderness permits.
Fee and Passes
Fee revenues pay for wilderness ranger patrol, trail maintenance, signing, site restoration, and wilderness education projects.
- Overnight Wilderness Permit Fee: $5/person for one night, $10/person for 2 to 14 nights. The cost of a single permit will not exceed $100. Children 12 and under are free. Permit fees are paid at time of reservation. Permit fees may be refunded if changes or cancellation is done more than 7 days in advance of date of entry. All fees are non-refundable within 7 days or less of date of entry.
- Pre-Paid Fee Card: $20 for an annual pre-paid fee card. The card covers only the overnight permit fee for cardholder and is valid for one year from date of purchase. You still must obtain a permit, subject to quota limits, and pay the reservation fee. Because a wilderness permit is a special use authorization,
- Interagency Passes do not apply.
- Reservation Fee: $6 per party/permit (non-refundable) for all transaction types (online, by phone, or walk-in/field reservations for a permit. Desolation Wilderness is managed via a zone quota system. All overnight permits are issued out of one database to manage the quota limits through the Recreation.gov site. Whether you walk-in, go online, or call in advance, you are reserving space in the quota.
- Service Charge: $5.00 for a change to the date or for adding people. Additional permit fees may apply. No fee for cancellations. Changes to reserved permits can be made online, through the call center, or in person.
- Trailhead Day Use Fee: Currently applies to Eagle Falls and Pyramid Creek parking areas only. A daily Trailhead
- Day Use pass is $5 per vehicle per day. (This fee is waived for overnight permit holders. Be sure to obtain or print your parking pass and properly display in your vehicle. The Pass does not guarantee parking will be available.)
- A $20.00 Annual Day Use Pass is available, valid at the facilities listed below where a parking fee is required. This Pass is valid for one year from date of purchase. Facilities include: Eagle Falls, Pyramid Creek, Carson Pass, Meiss, and Woods Lake Trailheads. Also covers day use fees at the Dru Barner Campground. (Parking at the Carson Pass and Meiss Parking areas is limited to June 1 to October 1st due to their operation as a State Sno-Park during the winter months.)
- Interagency Annual, Senior, and Access passes allow the holder to park at the above listed facilities for free. Interagency Passes do not apply to the Wilderness permit or purchase of the Fee Card or Parking Pass.
For information on the Desolation, other wilderness areas or minimum impact camping, contact:
Placerville Ranger Station: Eldorado National Forest
8 miles east of Placerville on Highway 50. 4260 Eight Mile Road, Camino Ca 95709. Heading east on Highway 50 take
exit 54, turn right onto Eight Mile Road then an immediate right turn into driveway for Ranger Station. Phone: for hours:
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
Located two miles east of the Highway 50/89 junction in South Lake Tahoe on Highway 50. From highway turn right
on Al Tahoe Blvd and then turn right at first signal. 35 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150. Phone for hours:
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