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This trail leads five and a half miles up the western slope of Desolation Peak to reach the 6,100-foot summit.

This trail leads from Desolation Landing on northern Ross Lake five and a half miles northeastward to the summit of Desolation Peak. The trail is steep and exposed most of the climb. A historic fire lookout lies on the summit of Desolation Peak, although it is closed to the public.

Begin your hike from mile 16 of the East Bank Trail, where the trail forks after crossing Lightning Creek bear left. You may wish to save yourself the 16 mile hike along the river bank by taking a water taxi through Ross Lake. If this is the case have the taxi deliver you to Desolation Landing. Hike along the access trail a very short distance to the main trail. Bear left (north) and you'll find yourself on trail 772, Desolation Trail.

The first two miles of this trek are easy with little elevation gain. You'll have excellent views of the lake, before the trail turns eastward. The switchbacks begin as you climb the forested western base of Desolation Peak. Before the trail reaches the top of this set of switchbacks it leaves the protection of the trees. Within a mile the trail enters the trees again on the long climb up the western slopes of the peak.

The trail climbs two and a half miles before reaching the summit ridge. Nearly 700 feet below the ridge the trail leaves the forest. The remainder of the hike is on exposed trail. Sunscreen and hats are advised for this hike. Hikers should also be aware of quickly changing weather. An exposed mountain summit is not a good place to be during a thunder storm.

The summit ridge elevation is approximately 5,090 feet. Once atop the ridge the trail turns northward again and leads along the ridge line. From this portion of the trail views abound. Shortly after reaching the ridge crest you'll come upon Desolation Camp. This primitive camping site is open to backpackers. Fires are not permitted at this site. During the last mile to the fire lookout and summit the track ascends 1,020 feet. The summit of Desolation Peak is 6,100 feet high.

Directions: From East Bank Trail, The Eastbank Trail forks at mile 16. The left side of the fork is Desolation Trail. The trailhead for Eastbank Trail lies along Highway 20 at mile 138.

Elevation: 1,740 feet

Ending Elevation: 6,100 feet

Difficulty: Strenuous

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Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Washington

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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