Back to index Tyler to Island/Twin Lakes Hike
Trip Date:  07/13/2018

: 9.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 2000'

Group Size: 4

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Tyler/Island Lake Route
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Tyler/Island 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:   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.)  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, and there might be some early season trail finding along the granite before the main rise in the trail toward the lakes.  Crowd Factor:   Tyler/Getrude Trail: Low to Moderate.  This is a lesser-travelled trail and does not typically offer access into Desolation Wilderness proper so it is less-frequented.  
Island/Twin Lakes Trail: Moderate to High.  
There are many people who access this trail into Desolation, and getting to the parking area early (before 8) is your best chance on a weekend of getting a spot here. 
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.  Head right at the next junction and reach Gertrude Lake about 3 miles from the start.  Tyler Lake is a quick cross country up to the south, and sits in a granite bowl with mountains on 2/3 of the sides of the lake.  From this point is where the hike changes from Moderate to Hard (or even Strenuous, depending upon your route selection.)  Head up the granite to the south side of Tyler Lake, staying on the smooth granite as much as possible.  When you reach the ridgeline you will have fantastic views down toward Island Lake and Twin Lakes far below, but you will need to choose your route carefully from here.  Head to the west a bit and look for a brush-laden chute which will offer the more reasonable option for heading back down the other side.  

Aim for the west end of Island Lake, and you will be able to pick up the trail here and follow it back down past Boomerang Lake, cross over the outlet of Twin Lakes and then head down the rocky path until you end up back at the parking lot for the Twin Lakes/Tyler Lake trails.  

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.

Our group headed out early on the Tyler Lake trail. Heading out
Once out of the trees the granite surroundings really stand out along the way. Granite above 
Tiger lilys were among the bounty of flowers on display in late July along the trail. Tiger lily
William Tyler, who passed away near this spot in the late 1800s is buried here a ways off the main trail with a headstone placed in the early 1900s and left as is.  There is now a short history nearby with this excerpt from the local paper from back in the day. Mt. Ralston in the distance William Tyler Details
After climbing up cross-country from Gertrude Lake, the exceptionally scenic Tyler Lake makes for a wonderful rest area. Tyler Lake
Looking west across Tyler Lake with a perfect reflection on the still water. Tyler Lake reflection
Stretching out and resting by Tyler Lake before making the climb up the ridgeline. Stretching out
Looking back along the climb up to the ridge from Tyler Lake. Heading up to the ridge
The view of Island Lake as we reached the crest high above Tyler Lake. Island Lake
Greg B above Twin Lakes, with a great view of Mt. Price almost directly over his head in the distance. Greg B above Twin Lakes
Greg B and I look for a navigatable way down the ridge on the other side. Scouting a route down
The distracting view to the east as we made our way slowly down from the ridge. View on the way down
After completing the Tyler Lake to Island Lake traverse, a 1 mile distance that took over 2 hours to complete we stopped to look up at the ridge and the chute far to the left we climbed down. What we came down
An amazing display of Pestemon flowers near the bottom of the ridge. Pestemon
Between Island Lake and Twin Lakes is an unnamed tarn that is locally referred to as Shangri-la for good reason. Shangri-la Lake
The wonderful display of flowers near Shangri-La Lake on the trail back. Shangri-La Flowers
Mark and Robyn crossing Twin Lakes near the outlet stream. Crossing Twin Lake
GPS track of the hike, starting in the bottomr left and heading around clockwise. GPS Track of the hike