Trails in Northern California

Trails in Northern California

Leave No Trace!

Visit for more information about Desolation Wilderness. Visit or call 1- 877-444-6777 to make park reservations. Visit Campfire Permits to get a permit online. More about Leave No Trace principles.

July 08, 2012

Rockbound Trail to Maude Lake in Desolation Wilderness

Maude Lake, a hike up and across granite,
 for a swim, sun, and a fair amount of privacy.

 Maude Lake is the destination for this hike but not necessarily the prettiest view.  You'll find more solitude here with plenty of room for other hikers and picnickers.

For a more current article for this trail, see Rockbound Trail to Maud, Doris, and Lois Lakes.

Distance: 10.1 miles round trip.  You could shave a bit of that off since I went to the opposite side of the lake.
Difficulty:  Moderate, basically due to miles, some elevation gained partly by those stairs of granite!
Elevation range:  6739-7685  feet, up going in and down coming out.
Driving directions:  Take Highway 50 to Wrights (Lake) Road north from the Kyburz area.  The Wrights Lake Road will be between tract 36 and tract 39 along Highway 50.  Follow the signs to Wrights Lake Recreational area.  When you get to the Wrights Lake Welcome Cabin and parking lot on your left, go straight ahead following signs to Rockbound Trailhead.  There is ample parking and a restroom there.  (The trailhead is near the restroom.)
Notes: For day hiking, just fill out a free day use permit at the trailhead.  For backpacking you can get permits online or at a Tahoe or El Dorado National Forest Ranger Station, for a fee.  There are no campfires allowed inside the wilderness boundaries and if you fish, be sure to have your regular fishing license with you.

The trail heads into the forest, nice and shady with generous doses of mosquito action you've come to expect!  The trail passes by some pretty and inviting lake views, through some aspens, quite a bit of shady forest, and finally out on less sheltered granite.

 But notice the trees, they are always close enough.

 I find plenty of shady spots for rests and snacks, but even on the granite shade allures the skeeters!

 In July there are plenty of wildflowers cheering the hiker onward and soon to be upward.

There are intermittent forested areas with views of distant peaks that I enjoy using as landmarks of my progress.

I only cross this stream which was shallow on this trip, and easy enough to rock hop across, although water volume can always change, so be prepared.

As you can see, the Rockbound Trail across the giant slabs is defined by a row of larger rocks on each side.

Refreshing as it appears, this section through the aspens delights those of us who seek out wildflowers; it also camouflages the ravenous vermin with wings- out to get you, (the dreaded mosquitoes).

 The granite stairs I mentioned will look like this.  Some traverse to make a steeper climb easier.

*** Please avoid using cairns (also known as ducks) as guides for safety reasons.  People have followed them thinking they were placed for guidance but they've often led hikers to random places other than their destination.  If you use cairn building as a guide, you may end up lost because they will be moved or gone when you return.  Look for landscape and use your map, GPS, compass, and landmarks to find your way.

At this point you are entering the higher views with more foliage and realize you must almost be there.  Climb some short traversing "stairs" and amble through low growing shrubs. The rocky trail may seem obscure for a moment or two, but look carefully around and you'll find the stairs and rocks guiding you upward.

Maude Lake!  You have arrived!  There is some land mostly surrounded by water that has nice large rocky areas to sit and picnic on, plenty of shade and sun, and on this day, not so many bugs.  The water is nice rather than snowy cold.  If you follow the trail around the northern side of the lake, there's a large watershed where the trail is built to help hikers stay out of mud using some well designed rock features. 
Local views all around are relaxing and its a secluded, quiet area.  It can be breezy, though refreshingly so.  I would backpack here.  There are some fish, but their dinner time ripples look small.
On my way back I saw this little user trail and needed water for the return hike.  I found this welcome mini-waterfall.  Resupplied, it was time to return rather than risk night hiking.
The views looking back are some little rewards for me, reminders of my hikes up and how close I am to the "holy grail", as my car is affectionately known, at the end of long hiking and trail work days.  My pleasure is an ice chest in my car with food and cold drinks for the ride home (hours for me).

Beauty Lake whispers that I'm almost back, and a little regret of sorts always goes along with my anticipation of completing a destination goal.

Nearing the end,  I'm surprised by a hen gathering her chicks!   

Related Posts
Desolation Wilderness
10+ miles
30 miles
Moderate to Strenuous/Difficult
18 miles
12+ miles
Moderate to Strenuous
13+ miles
Moderate to Strenuous
Umpa Lake & Enchanted Pools
8+ miles
Cross country ~ Moderate
Horsetail Falls via Pyramid Creek TH
Aprox.  10 miles to lakes at the top of the falls
"Difficult, and potentially dangerous" miles
10 miles
8 miles
Lyons Lake via Lyons Creek Trail
10+ miles
9.2 miles
6+ miles
Lyons Creek Trail with melting snow
9+ miles
3.8 miles
2010-09 We hiked 12 days.
167 total
Moderate to Strenuous
Happy Trails!  Thanks for dropping by!

Update links and facts 06-2016