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California > Eldorado National Forest > Pacific Ranger District
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Pacific Ranger District

Desolation Wilderness- Because of its beauty and accessibility Desolation Wilderness is per acre, the most heavily used wilderness area in the country. Desolation Wilderness is 12.5 miles long and 8 miles and is accessed by 15 named and numbered trailheads under a quota system.

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General Information

Description - Pacific Ranger District comprises the northeast section of the Eldorado National Forest where boundaries are shared with Tahoe National Forest, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, and two Eldorado ranger districts. Countless creeks, falls, mountain lakes and two reservoirs fall within the Pacific. The scenic Peavine Ridge lies in the southern area while a large segment of the eastern district is encompassed by the famed Desolation Wilderness, part of the Crystal Mountain Range and Rockbound Valley. The special interest area known as Wrights Lake Bog Botanical Area lies southeast of Wrights Lake.

Attractions - Recreation is second nature on the Pacific Ranger District. Throughout the area visitors will find picnic sites, campgrounds, group camps, scenic lookouts, trailheads, winter sport areas, and countless secluded fishing lakes and streams. The District is host to Desolation Wilderness where elevations reach 10,000 feet supporting alpine vegetation. This glacially smooth expanse located west of Lake Tahoe is easily accessed from Pacific's Wrights Lake / Twin Lakes Trailhead. The Desolation Wilderness requires both day and overnight permits year-round. Self-register day use permits may be obtained at most major trailheads. Overnight permits are obtainable only at the Eldorado National Forest Information Center or Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Office.

The Ice House and Wrights Lake areas provide nearly a dozen campgrounds accommodating equestrians, ATV users, mountain bikers, anglers, swimmers and those with physical handicaps. The Loon Lake and Gerle Creek area also invites equestrians, groups and those who enjoy boating to their overnight spot. The Union Valley Reservoir area has nearly 500 developed campsites. Dispersed camping is allowed practically anywhere that camping is not specifically prohibited. Additionally, there are huts and cabins available for rent including the Loon Lake Chalet, a popular site for winter sport enthusiasts.

Many recreations are centered around the Districts large lakes: Loon Lake and Union Valley Reservoir are planted with rainbow trout every other week during the warmer months by the California Department of Game and Fish. At Union Valley, brown trout, kokanee salmon, and smallmouth bass are also caught. Rainbow, brown, and brook trout are planted at Ice House Reservoir where brook, and lake trout, kokanee salmon and gold shiners populate the water. Catchable rainbow or brown trout are stocked monthly to supplement the wild trout production at Wright Lake.

Rockhounds enjoy the District for its rich deposits of vesuvianite, grossularite garnet, diopside, idocrase, psilomelane, and tremolite. Clubs are active in the region, inviting local elementary school groups to join the fun and learn about natural wonders.

Maps are available at District offices.

Recreation - Fishing, sightseeing, trail use, camping, backcountry exploration, rockhounding, picnicking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are enjoyed on the Pacific Ranger District.

Climate - A Mediterranean type climate extends over most of the Forest with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread.

Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.

Location - The Pacific Ranger District is located in the northeast quandrant of Eldorado National Forest. It shares its boundary with the Georgetwon Ranger District on the west, Tahoe National Forest on the north, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit to the east and the Placerville Ranger District to the south. Major access roads include County Roads 63 and 147, and Forest Roads 3, 4, 31, 32, and 35.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Pacific Ranger District, 7887 Highway 50 , Pollock Pines, CA, 95726-9602, Phone: 530-644-2349, Fax: 530-647-5405, TTY: 530-647-5400

Additional Information:
Eldorado National Forest - The Eldorado is located in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. It extends from the foothills into the rugged Sierra Nevada high country southwest of Lake Tahoe.


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