Place Name: Desolation Wilderness
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 9,856 Feet
Prominence: 376 Feet
Elevation Gain: 4,028 Feet
Lists: Tahoe-Ogul, Western States Climbers, Western States Climbers Emblem Peaks
Deep In The Desolation Wilderness
The Desolation Wilderness has some famous peaks that get climbed everyday, Jacks Peak is not one of those. It sits deep in the wilderness between Mount Tallac and the Crystal Range. The views are fantastic and can be combined with its neighbor, Jacks Peak.
- Views are insane
- Nice PCT hiking
- Chance to bag two peaks
- Long hike
- Trailhead is a long way in on Fallen Leaf Lake Rd.
- Some class 3
Hiking in the Desolation Wilderness has become very popular over the years and for good reason. The number of lakes and peaks and the proximity to major cities keeps it busy. However, the deeper you go in, the more desolate it becomes. One such area is hiking up Dicks Peak and Jacks Peak.
These two are the third and fifth highest summits in the wilderness and lie deep inside between Mount Tallac and Pyramid Peak. Both peaks sit on major peak bagging lists and are an exceptional day hike.
There are a few trailhead options to access Dicks Peak and Jacks Peak. We decided to use the Glen Alpine Trailhead on the far end of Fallen Leaf Lake.
To access this trailhead you will need to follow the narrow one lane Fallen Leaf Lake Road to the far end of the lake and past the marina and fire station. The road is paved and passes by many summer cabins. There is a dirt turn around and bathroom at the trailhead with ample parking.
The trail is easy to follow and well graded all the way to Dicks Pass. It follows Glen Alpine Road past the waterfall and old resort before turning to single track.
We followed the Glen Alpine Trail past a couple of junction until it becomes the Pacific Crest Trail. Pass the junction to Gilmore Lake and take it all the way up to Dicks Pass. This is where you will leave the trail towards the peak.
When you get to Dicks Pass on the Tahoe Rim Trail/PCT, breaking left towards the peak is your next move. There is a light use trail that starts leading up the summit and disappears off and on into the rocks. There is a lot of class 2 through here. If one so chooses, class 3 can also be found.
Jacks Peak sits deceptively close just across the saddle and is the logical next stop.
The traverse over to Jacks Peak is short, however, it is slow moving. There is also some class 3 sections with minor exposure to gain the summit of Jacks Peak.
Jacks Peak has lesser views of Lake Tahoe, although the view towards the Crystal Range and Lake Aloha are top notch.
Coming down from Jacks Peak is a little harder. Do you retrace your steps back over Dicks? Or do you drop off the ridge a traverse around the valley back to the trail?
We chose to do the latter and found very slow going on this track.
The Final Word
These two peaks are a couple of my favorites on the Tahoe Ogul List. The hike is wonderful, although long. Many lakes are nearby and this could easily be turned into a 2-3 day backpacking trip.
The views from the tops are top notch and the scrambling is fun. I highly recommend this hike to anyone that wants to get away from the crowds on Mount Tallac.