"The world is big and I want to get a good look at it before it gets dark." -John Muir

Great Hike With Lots Of Climbing

I loved this hike. Cataract Falls is one waterfall after another as you ascend 1,000 feet through some beautiful forest. Once at the top you can easily add more distance by following any of the trails at the top and looping back around.

Great Hike, but look for Garnet Lake not Banner Lake on most maps

This is a spectacular hike considering how close it is to trailheads and the fact it can be done in an overnight trip. Just be prepared for crowds because of how close it is. This also serves as a great first night's stop to acclimate when doing a through hike to Tuolumne Meadows. ***One thing to note, I don't believe there is a Banner Lake. I believe the author is referring to Garnet Lake which sits at the base of Banner Peak. I went to look at a map thinking there was a lake in the area I didn't know about but judging by the pics and my research the destination of this hike is actually Garnet Lake.

Great all season hike!

This is a great hike at almost any time of year because of the shade and forest canopy. To turn it into a multi-day backpacking trip, hike here for your first day and then down to one of the trail camps closer to Wadell Beach for the 2nd day. After setting up camp hike down to Wadell Beach and back. This adds quite a few miles but at the low elevation, it's a great way to get some mileage and elevation gain before a summer spent in the Sierra Nevadas.

Scramble all the way to the top!

It's a bit challenging and sketchy in a few sections but the scramble to the top of the falls and the lakes up above is totally worth it! Once you get up there you'll find a lot of solitude and a basin full of lakes and streams to explore. This can easily turn a short hike into an all day excursion.

Great Mountain Biking Loop Too!!!

This is also a great Mountain Biking Loop that you can take almost year round as long as there is no snow. To avoid paying for parking, park at the dam at the far end of the lake and then just find the trail which should be close by.

Great views and a nice workout

I've never done this in the winter, but it's on my to-do list for backcountry ski trips. However, it makes for a great summer hike to get in some good elevation gain. The views from the top let you see right into the heart of Desolation Wilderness, you can see south all the way to Ebbet's Pass and you can see parts of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. Overall a great peak to summit in the Tahoe area.

Steep with lots of stairs

This hike is steep and can be very crowded during the summer but Dick's Lake is worth the work. Once at Dick's Lake it feels like you are in the High Sierras because of the way Dick's Peak towers over the lake. Take some time to also go explore Fontanilis Lake not too far from Dick's Lake and loop back to the trailhead by passing by the Velmas on your way back.

I'm almost bummed this is on here because it's such a well-kept secret

But now that it's out there, I highly recommend Jabu Lake. Just know that there are only a few good camping options up here so you may hike up and find nowhere to camp if someone beat you to it. With that said, camping and catching a sunrise from here is one of the most amazing places to catch a sunrise in the whole Tahoe area. From the West End of the lake watching the sunrise over the East End creates the feeling of an infinity pool with a perfectly reflected sunrise in the still lake. It's also great for swimming because of the granite slabs that ease you into the water. I highly recommend Jabu Lake as a great side trip in the Lake Aloha area.

The heart of "Desolation Wilderness"

The Lake Aloha area is what I consider the heart of Desolation Wilderness. It's an easy to access destination that has the feel of desolation because of all the granite and lack of trees. It's also one of the few places in the Tahoe area that comes close to the big mountain feel of the central and southern Sierras. Lake Aloha can get very crowded in the summer but if you have a map and some basic off-trail navigation skills you can easily explore other lakes in Desolation Valley and find a lot more privacy.

Beautiful Campground

I love this campground because of all the hiking options and places to explore around the area. It's a long windy drive to get there but that helps you feel like you are isolated in the middle of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Just beware of racoons, they are persistent little creatures that will try to steal food of the table the second you turn your back.

Great trails for mountain biking and hiking!

I love this area for spring and fall hikes and bike rides around the Sacramento Area. There are so many miles of trail that you could spend all day out here hiking or a good part of the day exploring them on bike. Not all trails are as good for bike riding as hiking and the trails to the falls can be crowded so if you are looking for good bike riding trails take the back roads to the falls and the overlook so you don't have to wait for all the hikers on the trail.

Beautiful Hiking Trails

I love hiking around Big Basin Redwoods. The trees are huge, there is always shade, and the temps are great year round. Just watch out for all the banana slugs on the ground, they are everywhere!!!

Want to try backpacking but want a toilet and running water?

If so, this is a great hike to get a feel for backpacking without needing to worry about some of the most common reasons people are afraid to try backpacking. The Coast Camp has both vault toilets and running water, so no water filtering is necessary. The Coast Camp is very close to the trailhead so don't expect privacy and in fact, we had a larger group of college students in one of the group sites that were up quite late having fun. They weren't annoying but just prepare for more of a campground experience once you get to the camp as opposed to the normal backpacking experience. One of the other great things about this camp is its proximity to the beach and once on the beach you can hike far enough along the beach to find some solitude if that's what you are looking for. Overall a great year-round backpacking option for those who are just getting into it or for something to do during the shoulder seasons.

Great first hike!

This is a great, easy hike since most of it is following along the shores of beautiful Caples Lake. The little bit of climbing you do is all forested and cool, especially in the late season. It also would make for a pretty easy day hike.

Get away from Desolation's crowds for the true desolation experience

The loop from Camper Flat around 4-Q Lakes, past Horseshoe, McConnell, Leland, and Schmidell Lakes is one of my favorite parts of Desolation Wilderness. Out here you can usually find true solitude compared to Desolation's busy Western Slope. I highly recommend it later in the season and prepare to be alone.

One of the must-see areas of the Trinity Alps

I consider this hike along with the Canyon Creek Trail to be two of the must-see trails in the Trinity Alps. What makes them great is they are well maintained compared to some trails in the Trinities which makes it much easier for less-experienced hikers. For more experienced hikers these trails are a great starting off point for some excellent off-trail hiking and scrambling that can take you to the heart of the Trinity Alps.

Great overnight trip with a nearby peak option

This hike is a great overnight trip with excellent vistas into the massive canyons that make up the Mokelumne Wilderness. Best of all you can easily summit Deadwood Peak from the shoulder before descending to Grouse Lake. From the summit of Deadwood Peak it puts the massive size of these canyons into even greater perspective and you can see for miles up and down the Sierra Crest.

Big Bang for your buck

This hike is amazing considering that in 8 miles you can feel that you are in an alpine, "alps-like" setting. The fact that it's at a lower elevation makes it easier than some High Sierra hikes which is beneficial for anyone who has greater sensitivity to higher elevations. Be warned though, this trail is crowded so go midweek or on the shoulder seasons for more solitude. I also recommend taking the time to explore the Boulder Creek Lakes which are a short 5-mile round trip scramble from this trail.

Jeff Driscoll

over 3 years ago

My first backpacking trip.

I did this for three days and two nights on my first backpacking trip in 1995. I've been back and done it several times since and still love it. I highly recommend it as long as you are okay with a little scrambling up the initial "notch" from Lake Sylvia. After that, it's all hiking and some giant boulder hopping until you are at the summit.

Great hike!

I like using Ruby lake as a place to acclimate before heading over Mono Pass to Pioneer Basin or the Muir Divide. Beautiful scenery a short distance from the trailhead.