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REGISTRATION & PAYMENT REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page. This is a paid event with payment managed through the AOC. Please read the event description carefully for details; you will be given payment instructions after you sign up. Late payments are NOT accepted for this event, in any circumstance.

Desolation Wilderness - 5 day backpacking trip

The Basics:
Event Type:Backpacking
Event Location: Desolation Wilderness (California, near Lake Tahoe)
Date(s) & Time:Sun, Jul 10 2022  4:00 pm >> Sat, Jul 16 2022 9:00 am
Registration Opens: Mon, Feb 28 2022 8:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Thu, Mar 31 2022 10:00 pm
Event Duration:5 Days 17 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D4: Moderate to Difficult
Distance:36 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Bob Bunner
Michael Johnson
Email Trip Leader(s)
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Member Cost:$216.00/Person (See Detailed Cost Info Below)

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:8
Minimum Group Size:4
Number Registered So Far: 8 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


Desolation Wilderness is a lake carpeted jewel located near Lake Tahoe.  This five day backpacking trip will include a loop through the wilderness.  You will experience some significant elevation gain, but only moderate mileage so that we can enjoy hanging out on the rocky shores adjacent to several lakes.  Afternoon swimming is encouraged!

7/10: You are responsible for booking your flight to arrive at the Reno/Lake Tahoe Airport on Sunday, July 10, 2022.  The AOC fee includes sharing a room with two queen beds at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino.  The resort includes ground transportation from the airport to the hotel.

Day 1 (7/11):  Our backpacking trip will begin at Echo Lake.  It's about 72 miles from the the hotel to Echo Lake and transportation has not been provided.  We encourage members to pool your resources and rent a car or find some other form of ground transportation (i.e., uber, lyft) to arrive at Echo Lake by 9:00 a.m.

Our hike begins with a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail that proceeds upward along the rim of the stunningly beautiful lower and upper Echo lakes.  These lakes are surrounded by summer residences that are the envy of all who go there.  The residences are modest in size, so they don't take away from the wilderness experience.  After about three miles, we will enter the actual wilderness featuring a predominantly red fir and lodgepole pine forest. At around six miles, we will arrive at the largest lake in the wilderness - Lake Aloha.  We will continue hiking about 1.5 miles north along the rim of Lake Aloha to find more secluded campsites.  Total mileage for the first day will be about 7.5 miles and 1900 feet in elevation gain.  The lake features many large rocks that protrude out of the water and make for great swimming destinations.

Day 2 (7/12):  We will backtrack about a mile and rejoin the PCT and TRT past a series of lakes - Heather, Susie, and Gilmore before ascending for about three miles to Dick's pass at an elevation of 9,380 feet.  From the top of Dick's pass we will have mostly continous views of Dick's lake as we descend to its shores and find our campsites.  Our total mileage will be about 7.5 miles and we will have a total elevation gain of 2200 feet.  In the afternoon, feel free to enjoy the cool waters of Dick's lake or explore nearby Fontanillis Lake.

Day 3 (7/13):  We will continue along the PCT/TRT for about 2.5 miles to the majestic Middle Velma lake. Because this will be a rather short day, we'll probably spend some time enjoying the views or dipping into the waters of the Middle Velma.  At the junction, we'll proceed on the Velma Lakes Trail for about two miles to a new junction.  Here, we'll proceed north for less than a half mile to a trail leading to the 4-Qs Lakes.  After about a mile we will come to a series of smaller lakes where we will camp for that night.  Total distance will be about 6 miles and total elevation gain will be a little more than 500 feet.

Day 4 (7/14):  We will backtrack for 1.5 miles to the junction with the Velma Lakes trail, but then continue south and up for approximately six miles to the ominously named Mosquito Pass.  At the pass, we will enjoy better views of Lake Aloha as we descend to our first night's campsites.  Total mileage will be about 7.5 miles and elevation gain will be a little more than 1600 feet.

Day 5 (7/15):  After a leisurely morning, it will be time to return to the Echo Lake parking lot for a total of about 7.5 miles.

The AOC fee includes sharing a room with two queen beds at the Grand Sierra for Friday night.  You will again be responsible for coordinating transportation back to the hotel from Echo Lake.  The hotel provides free ground transportation to the airport on the following day.  You are responsible for your flight back to Atlanta.

Required Items to Bring:

All backpacking essentials and meals for five days.

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

Bear cannisters are not required, but are recommended.  You are responsible for proper food storage.  There are definitely bears in the area, so don't take this responsibility lightly, both for your sake, and for the sake of the bear.

Swim trumks

Hiking poles

The sun is intense here - bring sunscreen and clothing to protect your skin

Mosquito repellant - Should not be too bad in mid-July, but you will definitely know they are out there

It gets hot and dry here in the afternoons - expect temperatures in the low-80's during the day and mid-50's in the mornings.  Make sure your sleeping bag and clothing are appropriate for this climate.


This is a D4 event.  If you sign up for this event, the trip leaders may contact you to guage your level of fitness and to determine whether you are able to complete this event at a moderate pace.  The trip leaders have discretion to remove anyone who they believe would not be able to complete the event at a reasonable pace.

The AOC fee of $216 is due on March 31, 2022.  If you cancel after that date, you will not receive a refund unless another member takes your spot and pays the AOC fee for this event.  In addition, any refund you receive will not include the 3% paypal fee.

Important information for paid events in which payment is managed through the AOC:

     - Payment must be received by the payment due date and prior to participation in the event.

     - Some paid events require a minimum number of registered participants. If that number is not met, the event will be canceled and refunds will be issued to those who have already paid.

     - Third-party vendors often require damage deposits. Each registrant agrees to be liable for and required to reimburse the Atlanta Outdoor Club for any withheld deposits due to the actions of or damages caused by that registrant.

     - No partial payments. All registrants must pay the posted Member Cost regardless of any agreement you may have with any party involved in the event.

     - Read the event description carefully for additional information, and contact the trip leader(s) with any questions.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cost & Payment:
Member Cost:$216.00/Person
Cost Includes:

First and last night's hotel - sharing a room with two queen beds

Wilderness permit

$10 per person AOC fee

Paypal fees

Does not include airfare or ground transportation between hotel and the trailhead at Echo lake.

Payment Cut Off:Payment must be received by the AOC on Thu, Mar 31 2022.
Make a Payment:Click here for the details. PLEASE PAY AFTER YOU HAVE SIGNED UP BELOW.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.