This route to the top of Desolation Peak travels through Mill D North Fork using the popular winter and summer trailhead known as "Spruces," where there is also a summer-only campground.
From anywhere in the universe, travel to Big Cottonwood Canyon, and park at the well-signed Spruces Parking area off the highway about halfway up the canyon just past the Reynolds Parking area.
Skiing West Desolation
In summer, from the parking area, cross the street and walk up the road, passing a development of summer access cabins. Take care to respect public property, and stay on the road as it passes a vehicular boundary gate and becomes a trail. Follow this well-used trail for 1.9 miles until it forks. The left fork takes you to Dog Lake; the right fork takes you to Desolation Lake. Take the right fork. Follow the Desolation Trail until it reaches the Park City ridgeline, and follow the ridge on use trails to the summit.
In winter, carry your skis from the Spruces lot and cross to the north side of the highway. Skin up the snow-covered summer road past the homes (avoiding private property), and skin the summer trail to the fork. Take the right fork and skin until you reach the bottom of the west Desolation area. Skin a few short switchbacks in the lower-angle trees, and gain the ridge. Skin the ridge to the summit, and enjoy the many places to drop in along the way to ski. You can also reach the ridge by leaving the summer trail before it forks to Dog and Desolation lakes, when you're more or less due west of the peak and gain the ridge.
In winter, skis are recommended, along with avalanche gear. Summer would require nothing more than hiking boots and some water.
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"The mountains have rules. they are harsh rules, but they are there, and if you keep to them you are safe. A mountain is not like men. A mountain is sincere. The weapons to conquer it exist inside you, inside your soul."