Echo Lakes Trail

Desolation Wilderness

Lake Tahoe

Stroll along a portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail beside large alpine lakes.

Hiking Easy

Distance
8.2 km
Ascent
178 m
Descent
178 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
2.3 km
High Point
2.3 km
Gradient
Echo Lakes Trail Map

The trail along Echo Lakes is a popular path shared by many types of hikers. It’s a casual afternoon stroll for some, the start of a longer journey into the wilderness for others, or merely a blip on the map for those hiking long distance on the Tahoe Rim Trail or Pacific Crest Trail. Whether part of an extended trek or the sole destination for a half-day’s outing, the route along the Echo Lakes is a staple hike of South Lake Tahoe.

Description

Beginning from the Echo Chalet, the trail travels up onto a hillside to traverse above the north shore of the Echo Lakes. Early in the hike, there are places you can scramble down to the water to swim on a hot summer day. Private cabins take over the lakeshore after the first half mile, however, so the swimming opportunities dwindle. There are more spots to swim at the far end of Upper Echo Lake, or in higher alpine lakes if you continue into Desolation Wilderness.

If you want to continue past Upper Echo Lake into the wilderness area, you must fill out a free wilderness permit at the trailhead. Beautiful, smaller lakes and uncrowded trails await higher in the hills, as well as peaceful backcountry camping.

Echo Chalet operates water taxis on demand that can take you one or both ways through the echo lakes. If you want to skip the 2.5-mile trail along the lakes and get right into the wilderness, or if you hike to one end of the lakes but want a lift back, you can order a boat ride from the chalet.

Sources: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ltbmu/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=11796&actid=50 https://thetahoeweekly.com/2018/08/echo-lakes-gateway-to-desolation-wilderness/ http://www.echochalet.net/boat-taxi-services/

Difficulty

Easy

Walking along a well-kept trail that’s mostly flat. No obstacles are present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly

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Guidebooks in this area