Desolation Lake is a beautiful blueish-green alpine lake, situated in the Mount Olympus Wilderness, and can be hiked to within 2 hours. The long, gradual incline, and few switchbacks make this a very doable hike for any skill level. Be sure to bring plenty of water and a snack to enjoy at the lake. This trail can be hiked year round. This trail is located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and therefore dogs are not allowed due to the watershed. Please respect this rule.
Take I-215 south until you reach the 6200 South exit. Turn right onto Wasatch Blvd., then turn left at Big Cottonwood Canyon. Continue up BCC approximately 9 miles to the Mill D North Fork Trail head, located on the north side of the road.
Distance: 8 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 2500 ft
Time: 4-6 hours
Dog friendly? No
Kid friendly? No
Start by following the Mill D Trailhead.
The trail heads up, and East for the first 15 minutes. After 15-20 minutes, the trail will turn left, or North, and follow the canyon up.
The views really open up, and you'll pass by the first of many meadows.
After an hour or so, you'll reach a trail split. Heading left will take you to Dog Lake, which is also accessible via Millcreek Canyon. For Desolation Lake, turn right.
You'll come to another large meadow, where you can expect to see deer and moose.
Work your way up the side of the mountain.
Along the way, you'll have fantastic views of the mountains that rise above Donut Falls.
Climb up a short hill, then arrive at a 3rd meadow. We encountered snow! About 50 ft down the trail, the trail will spilt. Take the right trail, which will lead you right to Desolation Lake. Going left will take you up to the ridge, providing a great view of the lake from above.
After about 2 hours of hiking, you'll reach the lake. Take time to sit and enjoy your surroundings - it's so pretty!
My snack of choice was the Spiced Pumpkin Pie by Cliff Bar. I thought this was appropriate for Halloween day. It definitely have a "pumpkin spice" taste to it, and the bar itself was very chewy - almost to the point it strained my jaw! However, packing in 240 calories, it definitely made me feel full.
Here are two angles of the route to help guide you.
Happy Halloween & happy hiking!