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Desolation Wilderness

With dozens of trails and lakes, this area is a hiker's paradise


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The Desolation Wilderness is a large protected area in the Eldorado National Forest including Lake Tahoe and the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Before European settlers arrived, it was occupied by Washoe people. Now it is a popular hiking destination with a few dozens of trails and trail heads that provide access to the Wilderness. The Tahoe Rim Trail and Pacific Crest Trail are among most well-known passages. Visitors can also explore Desolation Wilderness starting from Echo Lakes Trailhead, Glen Alpine Trailhead, Bayview Trailhead, Loon Lake Trailhead, Buck Island Trailhead, and Horsetail Falls Trailhead. Desolation Wilderness area consists of 45 different zones, each requiring a specific permit. Camping fires are not allowed in the area. Day hikers can get a permit at trailheads.

Desolation Wilderness may be visited all year round, but most gates to trailheads are open from Memorial Day through October. July and early August is an excellent time to see wildflowers blooming.

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