Back to index Lake Schmidell Hike Backpack (Day 1)
Trip Date:  06/25/2021

: 8.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1800'

Group Size: 3

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Rockbound Pass Route
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Rockbound Pass Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 50.063, W 120 02.641
or overflow parking at
N 38 50.542, W 120 14.120
    End Coordinates:   N 38 56.768  W 120 05.883
Car Shuttle Req'd:   Yes 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.)  Turn right at the junction and drive along the south end of the lake for a mile until you reach the Desolation Wilderness Trailhead parking area at the coordinates provided.
Hazards of Note:   The trail is rocky along the first part, there are a number of possible false trails you can take as well.  Just head either north from the bridge you cross or head to the Rockbound Pass trailhead on the west side of Wrights Lake. Crowd Factor:   Moderate at the start, as there are many destinations from this trailhead including Twin/Island Lakes, Grouse/Smith Lakes and Tyler/Gertrude Lakes.  Once you get onto the Rockbound Pass trail, the potential crowd factor will drop significantly.  On the other side of the pass there will be some people at the lakes, especially Lake Schmidell, but anyone here is on a multiple day trip so there are many fewer than in other parts of Desolation Wilderness.
General Notes:
The first part of this hike crosses a small bridge right at the Desolation Wilderness permit kiosk near the parking area.  Continue north on the Tyler Lake trail until you reach the intersection with the Rockbound trail, which converge for less than half a mile before they split off again.  A half mile ahead is the junction for Tyler Lake, and you will head sharply to the left on the way up the Rockbound Trail.  Within the next 1/2 mile is a creek crossing across the outlet stream from Maud Lake, and if it is flowing high you will have a cold crossing of nearly waist high water.

Once you cross you will soon find yourself in a very open, granite-laden section of the trail, which will climb up to Maud Lake, about 4 miles into the hike.  The east end of Maud Lake has a nice resting spot, and from this point on you will start to climb up the last 900' of elevation to the pass.  Once at the pass, a short distance ahead you will be greeted with a great view toward Rockbound Valley and even the Velma Lakes beyond, as well as Doris Lake in the foreground.  It is only about 1/4 mile from the pass, and is a very inviting destination.

Dropping down to just south of Doris Lake, the trail will take a hard turn to the north, and you will reach a junction with a trail down into Rockbound Valley.   Continue straight, and you will next pass Lake Lois, less than a mile from the evening's destination of Lake Schmidell.   Past this lake you will soon see Schmidell in the distance, located in a granite bowl ahead of you.   The trail drops down and hits a junction near the lake.  Head to the right and find some camping sites along the rocks of the eastern shore, or continue on crossing the outlet dam for another few spots on this side of the lake.

Since this is a hike into Desolation Wilderness, you will need an overnight wilderness permit which includes all members of the group.

Our trio about to head out on a three day adventure from the Wrights Lake Desolation Wilderness trailhead. At the start
It was nice to see the repairs on this bridge after it had been heavily damaged a year before during severe winter weather. Repaired bridge 
Even in a dry year, there was a lot of water around this early in the summer season. Water everywhere
Some of the signs along the way need some significant maintenance, but the one into the Wilderness had been recently replaced. Early sign Desolation
Once the trail leaves the forest out into granite there is a good view ahead of Rockbound Pass, past which lies the area we would spend the next three days. Rockbound Pass
Four and a half miles into our day we were able to make a quick stop at Maud Lake for a snack and short rest. Maud Lake
Closer to the pass the area opens into a vast expanse of granite, water and wildflowers. Onward and upward
Almost at the top we had views back down to Maud and even Wrights Lake to enjoy. Near the top
This section displayed the appropriate name of Rockbound Pass. At the top 
At the top we took a lunch break and enjoyed the view of Lake Doris and the Rockbound Valley beyond. Enjoying the view Lake Doris
Past Lake Doris we found the intersection for the trail down to into the valley.   Two days later we would pass by the other end of this trail at the bottom. Junction to the valley
Next along the way was Lake Lois, which had multiple waterfalls coursing into it across the way from where the trail passed by on the east side. Lake Lois
Checking out Lake Schmidell, our first destination on our backpack trip. Checking out Schmidell
At the lake we ended up crossing the outlet dam to find a perfect spot to set up for the night. Crossing the dam
We found some nice views back at the lake from our campsite, and the trail across the way that we would start out on in the morning to climb up out of the lake basin. Looking at the lake
We had our tents up quickly, in time to have a meal and then enjoy the sunset before heading off to bed. Campsite
One last look at Lake Schmidell before the end of the day. From our site
GPS track of the hike, starting at the bottom left and heading up over the pass and to Lake Schmidell in the upper right. GPS Track of the hike