“This popular route visits many highlights of the Desolation Wilderness.”
— Nick Wilder
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers
While this length will make it a full day for many people, the relatively easy climbs and long list of highlights make this an excellent, and justly popular, route into the Desolation Wilderness.
From the trailhead, follow the fire road for the first mile to the old Glen Alpine Springs Resort. This is a cool diversion with a few of the original buildings still standing and some interpretive signs installed.
From here the trail turns to very rocky singletrack. About 1/2 mile after leaving Glen Alpine Springs there will be a 1-mile spur trail to Grass Lake to the left. But follow the trail to the right as it begins ascending the southwest flank of Cathedral Peak toward Gilmore lake. This 1/2-mile stretch is a series of switchbacks, but soon after, the trail straightens out and becomes softer under foot as it enters more forested terrain.
About 1 1/4 miles from the Grass Lake spur there will be a split in the trail. Take a left on the Glen Alpine Trail Cutoff
, pass some small ponds surrounded with wildflowers, and then pick up the TRT: Echo Lake to Barker Pass. Head left here towards Susie Lake. Enjoy the beauty of Susie Lake and Jacks Peak in the background.
Climb to the notch on the far side of the Susie Lake and you'll quickly come to Heather Lake, and a few switchbacks later, Lake Aloha. Lake Aloha is particularly beautiful with the Crystal Range in the background. Enjoy a picnic, play in the lake, and return the way you came.