Desolation Wilderness – Bayview to Echo

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

In 2008 I linked to John Fedac’s Tahoe Rim trip report:

… Hands down the best TRT leg is the 35 miles between Barker Pass to Echo Lake in the Desolation Wilderness over Dicks Pass. (With a side trip to summit Mt Tallac for its unparalleled Tahoe view) …

This summer I finally got the chance to walk a couple of days out of Tahoe myself.

Desolation Wilderness is a 63,690-acre (257.7 km2) federally protected wilderness area located along the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, just southwest of Lake Tahoe …

… a popular backpacking destination, with much barren rocky terrain at the edge of the tree line: it has extensive areas of bare granite. …

Fedak and I dropped my vehicle at the Echo Lakes Trailhead. Then he drove me to pay for my overnight Wilderness Permit.

Finally, after some consideration of how much time I had, he recommended I start at Bayview trailhead.

climbing up out of Bayview

The weather was terrific, so, the day I was there, everyone was scrambling Dick’s Peak as a side trip.

Rick on Dicks

I left a Summit Stone.

The view was terrific. But I spent most of my time trying to capture photos of the dozens of butterflies blown up top.

I camped that night at Gilmore Lake campground for easy access to Mt Tallac. The lake is only 1400ft (427m) below the summit.

I sprinted that ascent, in any case, early next morning … pursued by hordes of mosquitoes.

vista over Lake Tahoe from Tallac

Mosquitoes are bad here. At some lakes. Some times. I got a bit unlucky. These were the first mosquitoes I’ve ever seen during many hiking trips in California.

Fedak had warned me. So I had a head net.

The highlight of my trip was the section passing Lake Aloha, a stunning glacier carved granite basin.

Here’s Pyramid Peak, the highest point in Desolation.

I finished here at Echo Lakes Trailhead.

A superb day hike is catching the boat. Romping around Aloha. And returning same day, either catching the boat back to your vehicle … Or walking the last bit, time and energy allowing.

See the rest of my photos from this 2 day hike.

Thanks John Fedak. 🙂

Check his annotated photo trip reports at

4 Replies to “Desolation Wilderness – Bayview to Echo”

  1. You and one of your Summit Stones Rick.
    Always a wonderful image and then the smile that another wanderer will have on their face due to your efforts… 🙂

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