The trail is suggested only for the experienced four-wheeler with non-stock, lifted and modified rigs. The trail is limited to narrow short wheel based vehicles. Rating the trail on a 1 to 10 system this trail is a 9 to 10. The Barrett Lake Trail is a single path trail there is no bypassing the hard spots. The Gateposts at the Trailhead are 85 ¾ inches apart at the top flange and 86 ¼ below the flange and are used as a gauge; if your vehicle cannot fit between the gateposts it will not make it through the squeeze points on the trail, and again there are no bypasses.
The Barrett Lake Trailhead is located at Dark Lake just north of Wrights Lake. The trail is a dead-end trail that is about 5 1/2 miles long from gate to Barrett Lake Campground. The average speed on this trail is 1½ to 2 miles per hour so you should plan on about four hours on the trail each way. The trail snakes through wooded areas, side hills, rock slabs and has a few creek crossings. The trail is an environmentally sensitive trail running on the border of Desolation Wilderness deviating from the established trail, driving onto Desolation Wilderness land or walking onto Desolation Wilderness without a permit has and will result in heavy forest service fines.
The trail ends at the Barrett Lake Campground. The campground is a primitive campground with no conveniences. You will need plenty of fresh water unless you plan to purify the lake water. While at the campground please do not park or camp on the lake shore and please observe all posted boundary signs, please pack out all your trash when you leave.
The trail is often closed without notice due to inclement weather. The open/closed posting on this page reflect seasonal closure, not daily closure. It is suggested you contact Eldorado National Forest for current trail information. One of the contact numbers for the Eldorado Forest Service is (530) 644-2324. They are usually there from 8 am to 5 pm, weekdays. It’s a good idea to pick up an overnight or day-use wilderness permit at the Placerville Ranger District on your way up to the Crystal Basin and also check on fire permit requirements and restrictions.
Please help keep this sensitive trail open by observing tread lightly rules, Please don’t litter the trail, campground and any part of our forest. Remember if you packed it in you must pack it back out. Thank you and enjoy the trail.