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Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

Hiking to Desolation Lake & Peak in Utah is situated in the Mount Olympus Wilderness, and can be hiked to within 2 hours. Desolation Lake is a beautiful blueish-green alpine lake. The long, gradual incline, and few switchbacks make this a very doable hike for any skill level. Hiking to Desolation Peak requires a little more stamina and comfort with ridges. 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. This is a very popular TH and on weekends, parking typically gets full by 7am in the summer.

 

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 (left) side of the road. Here is a driving map.

Distance: 8 miles RT for the lake only, 10 miles RT to the Peak

Elevation gain: 1900 ft to the lake, 2500 ft to the peak

Time: 4-6 hours RT

Dog Friendly? No, dogs are not allowed in BCC

Kid friendly? No

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

Start by following the Mill D Trailhead.

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

You’ll immediately have a great view of Kessler Peak.

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

A little rocky to start, however it is well-shaded.

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

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 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 trail is now rock-free, and follows close to the stream.

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.

Roughly half way to the lake, turn right at the first trail split.

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.

Ahh, Aspen trees!

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 many meadows.

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

Next, just before the lake, the trail dips down into another meadow.

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

Reach Desolation Lake! There are plenty of camping sites around the whole lake.

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

Whoo hoo what a great day to go for a run and soak up the sun!

If you get bad lactic acid build up in your calves and/or run often, I highly recommend getting compression socks! I get mine from Lily Trotters and love them. Get 10% off entire order, use the code “girlonahike” at checkout

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

Love the green and red colors of this lake.

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

After walking around the lake, we then continued following the trail up towards the ridge to reach Desolation Peak.

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

Ian beats me to the summit – he’s so fast!

Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

What an awesome day – can’t beat these views of the Wasatch!

Photo from my first time here in October 2015!

Desolation Lake

 

Hiking to Kessler Peak

Hiking to Kessler Peak

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Hiking Desolation Lake & Peak

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