Back to index Umpa Lake Hike
Trip Date:  07/03/2020

: 9.8 Miles

Vertical Gain: 2100'

Group Size: 3

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Umpa Lake Route
  Download GPX GPX for this trip
Umpa Lake Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 50.855, W 120 14.375
or overflow parking at
N 38 50.542, W 120 14.120
    End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 50 to Wrights Lake Road, and head approximately 8 miles north until you get to the entrance to the Wrights Lake recreation area (if this gate is closed you have to park just to the right before this spot and add a mile to the hike from this location each way.)  Go straight past the gate and follow the signs to the Rockbound Trail parking area.
Note: as of 2020 there appears to be a parking fee soon to be charged for parking at any of the Wrights Lake lots.
Hazards of Note:   The trail is rocky along the first part, and there might be some early season trail finding along the granite before the main rise in the trail toward the lakes.  Crowd Factor:   Rockbound and Tyler Lake Trails: Moderate.  These are moderately-travelled trails and you will meet serious backpackers heading into the heart of Desolation Wilderness on these trails for the most part.
Island/Twin Lakes Trail: Moderate to High.  
There are many people who access this trail into Desolation, and you will undoubtedly run into many groups along the way, even on non-weekend dates.
General Notes:
The first part of this hike takes you to a Wilderness kiosk which has lots of information regarding the trails in the area and should have a place to register for a day use permit for groups of 12 or less heading into Desolation Wilderness.  You will follow the Rockbound trail for the first couple of miles, and then turn right at the junction to Tyler Lake.  Less than 1/2 a mile up this trail you will see a use trail heading off to the south (right,) and you will want to follow this and navigate toward Enchanted Falls another 1/4 mile to the southeast.  The falls are distinctive and worth a visit.
After this you will need to climb up onto the higher rocks east of the falls, not necessarily having to cross the creek but there will be a good scramble to get up what will be anywhere from 50' to 100' of granite boulders.  Once at the top you will head almost due east, keeping the creek to your right.  Head toward the tallest rocky peak ahead of you, where Umpa Lake lies below in a bit of a granite bowl.  You will have to do some careful scrambling up to the lake, but the effort is well worth it and you should have the pretty little lake to yourself.  
From here head up the draw that forms the inlet to the lake to the southeast, and once to get to the high point you will see Twin Lakes below you further to the Southeast.  Navigate toward the lake over mostly open granite and eventually you will find your way down to the Twin Lakes/Island Lake trail alon gthe north side of Twin Lakes.   Once on this trail as you head due east, you will come upon Boomerang lake on your left, and then a small unnamed lake a little further on your right which has a local name of Shangri-la.  You will see why when you get there.  Continue up the trail toward Island Lake until after about 1/2 mile and you will reach the western edge of the very scenic Island Lake.
Head back down past Twin Lakes and follow the Twin Lakes trail down to the junction near Wrights Lake that will take you right along the Twin Lakes connector trail.  You can follow this all the way back to the Rockbound Pass trail where you will turn left and head back to the parking area.

Since this is a hike into Desolation Wilderness, you will need a day permit (free at the trailhead) and the group size limit is 12.

This trailhead kiosk just to the east of the parking area is where you will need to start out on the trek. Trailhead kiosk
Beauty Lake will make an early appearance to your right, with some of the Crystal Range peaks visible in the distance. Beauty Lake 
Off in the distance are some of the peaks we will be much closer to as the trip heads east. Peaks
Enchanted Falls is not shown on any maps but is a popular local destination along this South Fork of Silver Creek.  A little further down are the Enchanted Pools, which we did not end up visiting on this day.   Enchanted Falls
Lots of cross country granite to navigate between Enchanted Falls and Umpa Lake. Open navigation
Looking west across Tyler Lake with a perfect reflection on the still water. More cross country
Umpa Lake is directly under the right of the two peaks ahead, in a granite bowl below the dark spot below the peak. Heading there
Heading down to Umpa Lake after navigating the granite up to the bowl where it rests. Umpa Lake
Enjoying a break from the adventure along the shoreline of this seldom-visited lake. Umpa Lake
A look back at the terrain we navigated to head up to Umpa Lake just off to the right of this picture. A Look Back
Just over the rise as you climb to the south out of the Umpa Lake basin, you will see Twin Lakes and the easy navigation down to the trail along it's northern side. Twin Lakes
Between Twin Lakes and Island Lake ahead you will find this idyllic spot known as Shangri-la.  The lake is unnamed but presents a spectacular wildflower display by the end of July in most years. Shangri-La
The main trail ends at Island Lake, but hearty soles will often continue on toward Little Pyramid Peak to the north of this lake or Mt. Price to the southeast. Island Lake
Mt. Price, one of the distinctive peaks within Desolation Wilderness is the barely-visible high point near the right side of this picture.   Mt. Price
One last look at Island Lake before heading back down the Twin Lakes trail to and back to the vehicle at the Rockbound Pass trail parking area. Island Lake
A glimpse of the display of wildflowers seen near Shangri-la from a previous year. Shangri-La Flowers
GPS track of the hike, starting in the bottomr left and heading around clockwise. GPS Track of the hike