Best Hiking Trails in Eldorado National Forest


Adventure north of Yosemite National Park and find Eldorado National Forest situated east of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Scattered with rocky alpine terrain, lakes, wildflowers, and woods, the national forest plays host to many recreational activities, including camping, hiking, fishing, biking, skiing, and horseback riding.

Getting Started

By car, Eldorado National Forest is roughly 3 to 4 hours from the San Francisco Bay Area, or a 1 to 1.5 hour drive from Sacramento. It's well worth the commute.

Eldorado is home to two designated wilderness areas: Desolation Wilderness and Mokelumne Wilderness. Popular destinations include Lake Margaret or the longer-distance Lovers Leap.

You'll find ample campgrounds available throughout the forest, as well as dispersed camping locations. For a complete list of campgrounds, check out the campgrounds status page.

When to Go

Due to its high elevation, the best months to visit Eldorado are June through September when the snow melts and the terrain is passable.


Like most national parks and forests, you need a day-use or annual pass to park at certain trailheads. If you're a frequent visitor to Eldorado or other participating parks and forests, consider getting an Interagency Annual Pass. Other options include paying for a one-time day-use pass. Learn more about passes and permits on the forest page.

In addition to day-use or annual passes, a wilderness day or overnight pass is required for all wilderness areas within the forest.

In the winter, a Sno-Park Pass is required. The fee goes towards snow removal for certain trailheads. (Your annual pass doesn't include Sno-Park seasons.)

Dog Info

Dogs should be kept close when on the trail via verbal command or leash, especially in areas where you might find yourself sharing the trail with horses, wildlife, or mountain bikers. Learn more about pets on the trail here.

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