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Echo Lakes & Desolation Wilderness, Lake Tahoe

What better way to begin a hike than skimming across the crystal clear alpine waters of Echo Lakes ..

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Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 6 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  What better way to begin a hike than by skimming across the crystal clear waters of Echo Lakes, which nestle in between some of the... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Echo Chalet Taxi

Begin your hike at Echo Chalet, a summer only resort located just off US Hwy 50, ten miles westward of South Lake Tahoe and 49 miles east of Placerville.

Echo Chalet offers a water taxi service to and from the Public Landing at the far end of Lower Echo Lake, taking you through a small channel to Upper Echo Lake. Here the taxi will drop you off ... More

2. Navigating the Lakes

The small nippy water taxi may skip across Lower Echo Lake at a fair old lick, but a slower approach is needed to navigate through the channel which connects this chain of two lakes, before the engine can open up again and propel you to the Upper Echo Lake boat dock.

3. Desolation Wilderness

The water taxi drops you off on the Desolation Wilderness trail and from here you'll be heading off to explore more lakes, each very different and more secluded than the last.

You'll find only slight elevation changes throughout this hike.

4. [JCT] Left Turn to Tamarack Lake

When you find this trail marker, take a sharp left turn off the main trail and head out in search of lakes.

The official trail route will fade away to nothing at times thanks to exposed granite, scree and vegetation, but it's difficult to get lost here. Stick to the roughly level terrain and you'll soon stumble upon a cluster of lakes.

5. Tamarack and Ralston Lakes

Past Tamarack lake on your right you should continue onward to check out Ralston Lake, possibly the best place for a refreshing dip - weather dependant of course.

At this point you may want to take it easy and admire the plentiful scenery and the sparkling lakes, or you may be refreshed enough to check out some other lakes deeper into Desolation ... More

6. Hike Back to Echo Chalet

On the return trip skip the taxi and take the 2.5 mile trail that runs parallel to the Echo Lakes and leads back to the trailhead. This return journey is virtually without any elevation change, making it a great way to enjoy the scenery for a little longer.

Also, just before you make it back to the Echo Lake Chalet check out the views of the... More