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 26, 2014

Rockbound Trail to Lois, Doris, and Maude Lakes in Desolation Wilderness

Be prepared to hike over Rockbound Pass 

to enjoy secluded lakes and numerous wildflowers.

Once you cross the pass, your effort is rewarded.  Hiking down into this valley 
is a green and pleasant stretch of trail to Doris Lakes.

Doris Lakes July 2014
The creek bed east of Doris Lakes crossing Rockbound Trail, July 2014.
For more information provided by Desolation Volunteers
 in planing your trip, check this helpful guide.

Distances:  Official distances are listed on the  Desolation Volunteers website.  My estimations without side trips: One Way:   Maud Lake:  5+       Doris Lakes:  6+      Lois Lake:  9+
Desolation Wilderness is located west of Lake Tahoe near Wright's Lake Recreation Area.
and Icehouse.  It has numerous lakes, and hiking/backpacking opportunities.
GPS tracks on Wikiloc.
Difficulty:  Moderately strenuous, but consider whether you are carrying a backpack,
 if you feel comfortable hiking with a fairly steep view below you (qualifies a trail as difficult
 in my scale of ratings), and whether the rocky trail shown above might inhibit you! 
(Hiking down was pretty fast and easy.)  Up 8590 and down 7064 feet elevation per Wikiloc.

Click and enlarge this photo, keeping in mind how hard it is
to capture "steepness" in a photo!

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.)

Advisories:  Carry water!  If you go earlier in the hiking season, check road conditions. Be aware that there is a lot of uphill, and the "stairs" can wear on your quads and knees. If you have had knee trouble, carry knee supports. 
Desolation Wilderness passes are required.  Day Passes are available at the trailhead signs seasonally, otherwise check in at Pacific Ranger Station at Fresh Pond, CA.

For backpacking, get permits online or at a Tahoe or El Dorado National Forest Ranger Station, for a small fee.  If you are concerned about this trail, talk to the staff at Pacific Ranger Station at Fresh Pond.  There are no campfires allowed inside the wilderness boundaries and if you fish, be sure to have your regular fishing license with you.

Maud Lake 2012
Maud Lake 2012
The first stop will be Maud Lake that is very grassy.  There are some great rocky areas 
to rest on and you can get your feet wet (or swim) and enjoy some shade 
before you start the upward jaunt over Rockbound Pass.

Maud lake 2014
The article Rockbound to Maud has a great detailed description of the trail up to this lake.

Once you have had your rest, follow the trail eastward.  It will head through some thick and pretty vegetation. The trail then begins the upward trend, and will traverse along the north wall, with a gradual incline.  The challenges are the loose rocky surface and the view below.  

There are a few places where you can take off your pack and rest. 
 While you're at it, take in the views toward the west.

In the center is Maud Lake!!!

When you cross the saddle you will see Doris Lakes at the other side.  The hike down is 
pleasant after all of those rocks!  There are "stair steps" down, with all the green and the 
promised lakes in sight were a motivating factor for me.  

As you pass the Doris Lakes, you cross the creek on the far side,where 
you get another magnificent show of wildflowers! To stop at Doris, just hike from 
the trail over to the lake when you are near it.  The trail does not ever go directly to it.

After leaving sight of Doris Lakes, the trail heads north and is hard packed dirt.  It heads into the woods with little elevation change.  On the right you pass an unnamed pond (has a potential campsite on the east side).  The trail stays pretty far to the south west of the pond and suddenly you'll see 
Lois Lake! The path turns rocky again.  

 The campsites at Lois were in the woods on the north side of the lake.The trail is 
packed dirt again, with a nice forest floor for your tent.

I actually saw some snow up there!  This lake has a great "swimming hole" reputation.  
From the shore are smooth rocks and it is easy to wade in.

 Garmin's elevation profile gives you a hint at the climb, but it is a traverse, not straight up climb.

I carry a small pocket-sized map like this, from Basecamp, on my hikes,
which gives me an overview of the area I am hiking in, and to.

Related Posts you might be interested in for nearby trails:

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

See the Full Table of Contents.
Added updated links and Table of Contents 06-2016
Happy Trails!