4.7 miles, Half day
Ample lakes and trails surrounding Wrights Lake make for nearly endless outdoor activities. Trail hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and star gazing are some of the most popular. Day hikes can be coupled with kayaking and overnight wilderness camping. Twin Lakes is wide open and it's a perfect spot to watch meteor showers (e.g. the annual "perseids"). In the spring, roughly March through May, snow melts in the high country and creates majestic waterfalls throughout this region. There's even a few unmapped waterfalls in this particular area that you may be able to find if you ask around.
Note that this guide takes you only up to the junction where you can elect to follow marked trails to Twin Lakes, Grouse Lake or even Smith Lake. Twin Lakes is easiest while Grouse and Smith Lakes are considerably more strenuous.
Thank you, as always, to Pollock Pines based ISP DSLWest who allows me to work on these guides during slow periods at work.
Enjoy your Alpine Lakes!
As a Search & Rescue volunteer I've seen first hand just how easy it is to get stuck in the wilderness. Breaking an ankle or wondering into an area that you're unfamiliar with can mean an unexpected overnighter in the woods. Freak weather changes and even wild animals can create survival challenges for people and their pets. Having communication systems like radios and cell phones that are fully charged can make all the difference in getting to safety after an emergency situation in Desolation.
Bugs: Wrights Lake is a gateway to other lakes and consequently has many pockets of stagnant water. Mosquitos are a bit of a problem in this area. Bring bug spray and backups of bug spray. There's really never a time when you won't need it.
Hazards: Mountain lions, bears, and coyotes rarely attack people but carrying a bit of pepper spray may help you feel more confident if you're confronted. Avalanches, whiteout snow storms and heavy rain storms can leave you cold and wet. Slippery granite near waterfalls have caused injury and death.
Unlike in the Mokelumne Wilderness, cell phones actually work in Desolation Wilderness. There are cell phone towers on top of Big Hill and locations from Ice House rd over to Wright's Lake get excellent reception (at least with AT&T). At Loon Lake cell phones become useless though. When all else fails, an amateur radio license and a decent portable HAM radio can be a life saver. If you're a licensed HAM then you can use the 2 meter, 146.805 repeater in the event of emergency. An alternative to ham radios are the Garmin Rino series GPS/radio combinations. They will allow you to communicate with your group and even send your GPS coordinates to each other.