Echo Chalet is a seasonal resort opened from Memorial Day through Labor Day. From Highway 50, take Johnson Pass Road to Echo Lakes Road. Mt. Signed up for a meet-up hike to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. Day 2 of our Desolation Wilderness backpacking trip starts out where we left off at Tamarack lake. Trout Removal from Ralston Lake, Cagwin Lake, Tamarack Lake. The main building is a store, deli and soda fountain. But soon enough, the trail turned into a serious bushwhack through willow and alder thickets. Echo Lakes is definitely worth the drive and it would be a mistake to dismiss this lake just because Tahoe is close by. We could see Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe behind us, with tall mountains on either side. The wind was gusty and kept changing direction. Initially, we were in a thick forest, but soon enough, the views started opening up. The trailhead begins to the right of the boat dock and takes you on the east side of the lakes for 2.5 miles until you pass the northern portion of upper Echo Lake and you begin to climb over 400 feet in elevation. We cooked dinner by the lakeshore, watching the light fade. So, on an early Thursday morning in mid-July, I set out to the highly touted Echo Lakes. It's located in California, United States.The Tamarack Trail is no longer maintained. Both of us were tired anyway after sleeping poorly the night before, so we fell asleep early. As we got higher, we started getting a great view of the lakes below us. I hope you’re also able to get out and enjoy the Rockies in your back yard. Both of us were tired after a long day of driving and hiking, so we called it a night early and went to bed around 9. View a map of this area and more on Natural Atlas. We didn’t mind a bit of snow, but we didn’t want it to be the dominating part of the adventure. However, it really is a scenic trail and could be even more beautiful in the fall or winter. Echo Lakes to Susie lake via Lake Aloha. Lake Aloha is striking in the spring. The sun hit our campsite as we made breakfast, forcing us to shed layers down to shorts within minutes. This very steep trail is only for experienced and confident hikers (see USFS warnings). Along each path, there are several other lakes to visit. We followed the Tamarack Trail all the way back to the PCT. Well, I’m here to tell you, Echo Lakes is worth your time and multiple trips. These other hikes were Horsetail Falls and a few trips around Wrights Lake Recreation Area. Pacific Crest Trail/Tahoe Rim Trail through Desolation Wilderness. There were already more than 10 tents spread around the wooded area on the east side of the lake. The trail does split at roughly 3 miles and you can head left toward Tamarack Lake or right toward Lake Aloha. Cooking was a challenge as the wind tried to extinguish our stoves. Located right next to the Chalet are 8 small rental cabins. We encountered snow at around 8000ft. Permits are required to hike in the Desolation Wilderness (n/c) & are available at both upper/lower Echo lakes. Because I got there early, I was able to get one of the hand full of lower parking spots. The trail follows the eastern shore of the Echo Lakes, high above lakeside cabins. Directions: Though you can reach Tamarack Lake from many trails in Desolation Wilderness, the easiest is from Echo Lakes. I’ve been to Lake Tahoe over 100 times and I am very familiar with the views at Echo Summit. The rocky shore always reminds me of the Finnish outer archipelago with its low vegetation and stunted pines. Lots of day hikers, day runners. A still mostly frozen Tamarack Lake with Mt. Backpack to this secluded destination that's hidden from most of the traffic in Desolation Wilderness. Tamarack Lake Tamarack Lake. The Desolation Wilderness is a 63,960-acre (258.8 km2) federally protected wilderness area in the Eldorado National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, in El Dorado County, California. TRT thru-hikers need to get a permit for the nights they are in the Desolation wilderness, but do not apply to the quota system. We didn’t have a very long day ahead of us, so we took things slow and enjoyed being out in nature after being cooped up for weeks. A while after entering Desolation Wilderness, we stopped at Tamarack Lake, just off the trail, for a short coffee break. Very picturesque. This hike offers the easiest way to immerse yourself in the sublime beauty of the numerous lakes and peaks that highlight granitic Desolation Valley. I am guessing that Tamarack Lake would have been over it’s camper quota if we did count – so many families! 2,160 ft elevation gain. I had enough hiking for the day and I gladly paid the $15 to ride back and shave off an extra 2.5 miles. Specifically, this plan seeks to outline how replacing existing signs along the trail in the wilderness can help prevent vandalism, conform to wilderness trail sign standards and adequately provide wayfinding information for trail users. Over the Memorial weekend (2016) Tamarack Lake's north shore turned into a little camp ground; probably, since farther-out sites in the Aloha Lake neighborhood were still too wet or icy. We took a long lunch break at Tamarack Lake. Unfortunately for us, they opened for backpacking on the 5th, which meant we needed to find an alternate trip.Â. Just below this peak is Ralston Lake. I spent about 20 minutes walking around this lake and enjoying its beauty from all angles. It felt odd being back in civilization in the middle of a hike. I enjoyed the ride and was able to get some nice photos looking out toward the lakeside cabins. It provides many services and is located at the south end of lower Echo Lake. Thanks Andrew! If you missed day 1 you can check it out here.We ended day 1 calling it a night early due to the mosquitoes which made it easy for an early wake up time in the morning. The sun even came out as we approached the car. There is a two night minimum. We found two somewhat sheltered spots for our shelters and set them up before starting to make dinner. I arrived at the Echo Chalet parking area by 6:45am. quick over night to tamarack lake in the desolation wilderness. We’d been woken up several times by strong wind gusts. Not exactly the wilderness experience we had the previous night, but it would do. It’s like you’ve discovered a hidden treasure and you just can’t wait to find out its value. It’s located directly at the base of Ralston Peak and is absolutely inviting for a swim. Initially, we thought he must have been mistaken as the path was in good shape and even had a new trail sign. Directions: Though you can reach Tamarack Lake from many trails in Desolation Wilderness, the easiest is from Echo Lakes. It’s less than a 1/2 mile from Tamarack and it’s definitely worth the visit. The geography changed as we started descending toward Heather Lake. Even though I had one of the most comfortable campsites in a long time, I wasn’t able to get a good night’s sleep. We only broke through in a few places where the melting water had created snow bridges. Ralson in the background. Once we were out of the thick forest, navigation became easier. From the trailhead, you take the trail southwest for about 2/3rds of a mile until it reaches the service road. Hiking is a very popular activity around Echo Lakes even when the Echo Chalet isn’t open. Using some rocks and sleeping pads to block the wind, we were able to get some water boiled for a nice, warm dinner. U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Supervisor's Office 35 College Drive South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 Voice: (530) 543-2600 TTY: (530) 543-0956 Hours: Mon thru Fri 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. So, I decided to go off trail and head south directly toward Echo Lakes and completely bypass the trail. Backpacking in Desolation Wilderness to Aloha Lake, Heather Lake and Susie Lake. I went up and down many large rock pilings, ledges, tree stumps, bushes and more. But, that’s what bug spray is for. From Lake Tahoe, you can take Highway 50 west. However, I put Echo Lakes on my to do list and I was definitely excited to head out there, especially after hearing and reading glowing reviews. Ralston Trail is a trail on South Fork American River and Tamarack Creek in Eldorado National Forest, Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, CA. We lost the trail a few times, but it was easy enough to follow the lake in the right direction until we rejoined the trail. Employees have begun setting gillnets at Ralston, Cagwin and Tamarack lakes in the Desolation Wilderness in an effort to remove trout and restore once-friendly frog habitat, the agency’s Lake … Tamarack Lake Falls at Strawberry, Desolation Wilderness, Eldorado National Forest, including pictures, maps, directions, description, hiking trail routes - CA waterfalls by waterfallswest.com We arrived at the trailhead a bit before 11 and got our gear in order. We all shared the opinion that this is a beautiful area. Check out more of my Desolation Wilderness adventures. The snow was slushy in the warm summer sun, but it held firm under our feet. And, what’s perhaps their most popular service, the Chalet provides the boat taxi to take you from the southern end of Echo Lake to the northern end of the lake located 2.5 miles away. Ralston Lake is like a little wading pool for Ralston Peak. We’d met a man by the spring who told us that the trail we were planning to take hadn’t been maintained for a while. However, it’s still a bit challenging. Continue down another 1/2 mile and make a left onto Echo Lakes Road which will take you all the way to Echo Lake. Drive 1.8 miles east on Highway 50 past Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort and look for the brown Berkeley Camp/Echo Lake sign and make a left. This trail also provides access to other popular destinations like: Tamarack Lake, Ralston Lake, Lake Aloha and Lake of the Woods. Walking up to Tamarack … This trail also provides access to other popular destinations like: Tamarack Lake, Ralston Lake, Lake Aloha and Lake of the Woods. We arrived at the trailhead a bit before 11 and got our … Even if I’m unable to get back out there before Labor Day, when the boat taxi ends, I still plan on visiting Echo Lakes and taking pictures of the seasonal changes. Desolation Wilderness sign. At about the 3 mile mark, the trail splits and you want to veer to the left toward Tamarack. From this split, it’s only about a 1/2 mile to Tamarack Lake. The wind was still for minutes, then all of a sudden, you could hear the wind pick up in the treetops. After many years of being a full time freelance writer, and a long time resident of this state, I've decided to turn my full attention toward California by exploring all that it has to offer. The hike up was less than 4 miles with an elevation gain of less than 1,000 feet ( you start high). We arrived at Susie Lake as the sun was about to dip behind the mountains. The next trip will be a hike to Lake of the Woods and Lake Aloha. Once away from Echo Lakes and climbing in elevation, you can look back down and enjoy a beautiful view of both lakes. Tamarack Lake, Triangle Lake, Lilly Lake to Fallen Leaf and the Water Taxi to Echo Chalet. Heading to the right will take you to Lake of the Woods and Aloha Lake. Good trip, glad you were able to get out. The hike was much further than it seemed when up at a higher viewing point. The boat ride back was pleasant. Even with the lousy snow year we’ve had in 2020, an early June still means there will be snow in most places in the Sierra. Then it was a short hike up to 3rd night’s camp at Tamarack Lake. The morning was cold and windy. I was glad to hear your Yosemite trips are happening. 10 Trail junctions South of Aloha Lake backpacking Desolation Wilderness. From the PCT intersection, we only had a short 20 minute downhill stroll to get to our campsite. The first glimpse is all you need to realize that you’re in a special place. Rested and full of calories, we climbed over the pass. It’s beautiful up there.” But, I kept pushing it off because I was completing other hikes and adventures along Highway 50 first. At about the 3 mile mark, the trail splits as mentioned earlier. We stopped for lunch halfway through the climb. From Highway 50, take Johnson Pass Road to Echo Lakes Road. It offered different views than the trail did and it definitely added to the overall experience. It's a Regular size geocache, with difficulty of 2.5, terrain of 4. For the first few weeks in July, my friend KC kept telling me “Rick, you gotta go check out Echo Lakes. My tent held up ok, although I did tighten the lines once. Tamarack Lake was also very beautiful with Ralston Peak reflecting off the water. These services include the popular Echo Chalet and the boat taxi. It was a good 75 minute drive from my home near Sacramento. Check out my article on Ralston Lake for more photos and details. But, I have never made it over to Echo Lakes prior to this trip. My friend’s tarp caught a gust, and two of his stakes flew out in the dark forest. Echo Lake, also commonly referred to as Echo Lakes, is typically frozen during the winter due to its elevation of over 7,400 feet. Even though it was very last minute, we got to see and experience some top-notch alpine landscapes and enjoy nature. For whatever reason, I never sleep well the first night I’m up at altitude. The boat ride was only about 15 minutes. After taking a couple pictures at the dam by the outlet of Echo Lake, we headed out. My friend Joonas and I had been planning an early June hiking trip to Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite. Even with the breeze, the air was pleasantly warm, especially considering it was early June. Instead of just following the trail down the rocky and steep (and no longer marked on Desolation Wilderness trail maps) “Tamarack Trail”, we jumped off it to another trail that climbs up to an overlook on the top of Angora Ridge. But the views were amazing. Easy marked dirt trail then on the granite there were stones lined along the way to mark the trail on the granite. 1:27:07. Both of us had the route loaded on our Garmin Fenix 6 watch, which beeped any time we strayed too far off course, telling us to check the map and where we needed to head. All of them have unique charm, photographic appeal and are definitely worth checking out. A lot of water coming out of Tamarack Lake in the early summer. There were some tents pitched right by the lake, and we watched a ranger tell them to pack up while we had snacks. The trail from lower Echo Lake leads past upper Echo Lake and to the doorway of Desolation Wilderness. This is perfect for individuals looking to cut down on the duration and distance of their hike. In fact, it was on this trail where I decided to do a photo gallery titled Cabin Life because of how lovely these cabins were alongside the lake. Continue on the Tahoe Rim Trail past the signed turn to Tamarack, you'll reach Lake Aloha just past the meadows -- worth the longer, more strenuous hike. Then I hiked past Tamarack in a west direction, straight toward Ralston Peak. We took advantage of the situation by using the restrooms at the trailhead, then quickly continued. My goal is to inspire you to get out there and explore this amazing state. From Sacramento, take Highway 50 east roughly 49 miles past Placerville and just few miles west of Echo Summit. Once, I finished walking around Ralston lake, I decided to head back. There is limited parking down by the Chalet. So, I was fatigued and I didn’t really feel like hiking over to Cagwin lake. Please follow my adventures and news content by visiting Calexplornia daily or clicking on one of my Social Media accounts below. The Tamarack Trail is very strenuous, and can be difficult to follow in places. As the trail continues to switchback up the mountainside, Tamarack Lakes starts to come into view. We could already see the opposite side of the valley that we would be climbing to get back to Desolation. I didn’t make the side trip down, only admired it from above. Indeed, it has even been removed from many maps of the area. At waterfall camp, you'll have the opportunity to explore over 50 waterfalls. Trail Guide with topo trail maps, trail miles. This climb is challenging due to the rocky terrain and little coverage from the sun. The trail to Relay Peak is marked at the entry to the trail. By this point, I had already put in roughly 4 miles of hiking and I was battling a cold at the time. Even though I’d hiked this part of the PCT/TRT a couple of times before, I never get tired of the mountain vistas in Desolation. Tama-Rack City (GC42D49) was created by marshall.md on 12/3/2012. After our short break, we continued on toward our campsite for the night. Your ultimate Lake Aloha hiking guide for Desolation Wilderness near Tahoe, both for day hikes and backpacking trips, from a local! 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. This area is less than 10 miles away from South Lake Tahoe. The trail takes you along the east side of the lakes. The ground around the lake is very rocky, and there aren’t that many suitable campsites for tents. The last portion of the trail is worn out from all of the foot traffic. The trail followed a stream that grew more significant as we descended. In about a mile, the trail splits; go left to follow the northern shore of Lake in the Woods; stay right to head straight to Lake Aloha. Heading back toward Echo Lakes. The Desolation Wilderness boundary is a few miles in, and also marked the start of a fairly exposed section of trail. Echo Lakes is a place that I plan on visiting many more times. Start at Echo Lakes Trailhead. ... Take the Tamarack Trail out, which I really can’t recommend. We passed Glen Alpine Springs, an old resort built around a bubbling spring in the ground. Utah Trails 169 views. The drive was smooth and there were very few cars on Highway 50 heading up into the mountains. The bare granite and snow backdrop makes the lake look even bluer if possible. We will continue that hike some day. Tamarack Lake is one of many serene alpine lakes in the Desolation Wilderness. A lot of water coming out of Tamarack … Milky Way in the night sky above Tamarack Lake in the Desolation Wilderness, Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, ... Snow- shoe trail marker at mammoth mountain Tamarack lodge California. The gray granite gave way to dark black and red-tinted rock. We also decided to take one of the more challenging trails … It was about a 1/2 mile to 3/4 of mile from this point to the lake. We looked longingly at the trail marker that showed Lake of the Woods and Aloha Lakes not too much further down the trail in a section of the Sierras creatively named Desolation Wilderness. The downside was the amount of mosquitoes. Even on a Thursday morning, we met a constant stream of other hikers out enjoying the early summer weather. The crest of the Sierra Nevada runs through it, just west of Lake Tahoe. From its top there are a number of small pretty lakes within easy walking distance (assuming you get an early start). A boat taxi (8:30am-5pm on demand in summer, $14 one-way) drops hikers off at Upper Echo Lake, where the trail continues 1.1 miles, heading west into the backcountry to Tamarack, Lucille, and Margery Lakes. We had the wind at our back the whole way back to the trailhead. 570 ft elevation gain. Trailheads on El Dorado National Forest (West) Side. A look back at Echo Lakes from the trail toward Desolation Wilderness. The trailhead to the end of the Upper Echo Lake is about 2.65 miles and is also known as “The Scenic Trail”. An exciting journey from Echo Lakes to Tamarack Lake and beyond, Underwater Towns of California: A look at towns buried in watery graves, The Underwater Forest of Fallen Leaf Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake: How this Sierra Mountain Lake got its name, Convict Lake: A Stunning Eastern Sierra Lake with an Infamous Past, The Maiden’s Grave: A story of hope, loss and mistaken graves, The Murderous Tale of Tragedy Spring and the Mormon Emigrant Trail, USOUTDOOR.com Sale! The trailhead is just off Highway 50, on the far southeast side of Lower Echo Lake. After a short while on the PCT, we turned right and headed down toward Glen Alpine. The trail from lower Echo Lake leads past upper Echo Lake and to the doorway of Desolation Wilderness. The trailhead has a map of Desolation Wilderness (it’s helpful to take a picture to have an idea of the trail and locations of other lakes along the hike, including Lake Lucille, Lake of the Woods, Tamarack Lake and Triangle Lake). We tried to secure our shelters the best we could, hoping they’d hold up during the night. Day 1: PCT / TRT to Tamarack Lake – Lake Aloha – Heather Lake, Susie Lake. So, when I was driving down the last 1/4 mile of Echo Lakes Road to the lower parking area next to Echo Chalet, I caught a beautiful glimpse of Echo Lakes and I was instantly hooked. I took the left trail toward Tamarack Lake. We navigated down the patchy snow and small meltwater streams without issue. It’s hard to rely on the cairns because they can be confusing at times as well. Fortunately, we were the only ones at the lake, so we had no trouble finding a couple of flat spots to set up our camp. If you get off trail the area around can be very steep and rocky with loose footing. Trail near Lower Echo Lake. Day 2: Glen Alpine trail to Glen Alpine Trailhead, Tamarack Trail to Tamarack Lake.Day 3: PCT / TRT back to Echo Lakes Trailhead. The weather report called for high winds and snow down to 7000ft later that day, so we were happy to head out. It is commonly seen by hikers coming from Echo Lakes along the Pacific Crest Trail, but another way to reach it, the Tamarack Lake Trail, is a much less traveled and far more rewarding option. Save up to 70% off Outdoor Gear & Apparel. Tamarack Lake is a shallow lake in the Desolation Wilderness west of the Echo Lakes.This lake is popular with both dayhikers and backpackers [1-3]. Trailhead : Miles One Way: Difficulty: Twin Lakes to: Grouse Lake: 2.1: Moderate/Difficult : Hemlock Lake After discussing some alternatives and checking satellite photos on Caltopo, we decided to go for a relatively snow-free loop in Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe. The trail follows the north side of the the upper and lower lakes in the shadow of Echo Peak but then it begins to climb after Tamarack Lake. The trail starts climbing in earnest after the upper Echo Lake. It’s roughly 2.5 miles until you pass the northern point of upper Echo Lake. The night was surprisingly warm. ← Bikepacking in Patagonia – from El BolsÃ³n to Bariloche, Bacon mac and cheese: 2-ingredient easy backpacking meal →. Day two stats: 9.1 miles. The services located at Echo Lake are seasonal and are open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. We laid down on the sunny rocks for a while to let our shoes dry out. Day three stats: 4.1 miles. From Tamarack Lake back to the split, the trail can be easily lost across the rocks. This was definitely a much more challenging hike than the trail itself. Desolation Valley. Day one stats: 10.6 miles. The trail was under several feet of snow, which made navigation a bit tricky at times. It also provides mail services as the Chalet has been a licensed post office since the 1920s. Warmer than most summer nights in the mountains. Both of us were super happy with the trip. From the Echo Lake parking area, either take the water taxi or the Pacific Crest Trail north. A sign will direct hikers to Tamarack Lake. We packed up and headed out. Thrilling when the boat slows in narrow channel between upper & lower Echo lakes. We originally planned on two nights out but I have been under the weather for several days and we decided to call it after one night. Desolation Wilderness boundary sign. This is a day hike up from the Mount Rose Summit parking area. Additionally, the high ridges of granite made me feel like I was in an old Western film where bandits with handkerchiefs around their faces were going to jump out and rob me at gun point. Continuing down Highway 50 the next useful entrance is the trail for Horsetail Falls from Twin Bridges. 1,560 ft elevation gain. You can catch some beautiful views of both the upper and lower Echo Lakes and some really cool looking cabins. The majority of people have to park in the upper parking lot located about 1/4 mile back up Echo Lakes Road. If you choose not to take the water taxi, add 5 miles to the overall trip. Check out my article on Tamarack Lake for more photos and details. We had a quick breakfast before we started hiking back to the car. Note: you need to get a wilderness permit from recreation.gov for this trip. In the beginning, the trail to Tamarack Peak is the same as the trail to Relay Peak. I quickly got geared up and I was on the trail by 7am. He had to use rocks to set it up for the rest of the night. Trail map: Lake Aloha, Ralston Lake, Ropi Lake, Tamarack Lake, Pacific Crest Trail Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail From Echo Lakes to Lake Aloha. Directions The lingering snow on the surrounding mountains made for some stunning scenery. The shore of Lake Aloha was still mostly covered in snow. Tahoe to Yosemite backpackers continue South. It was significantly steeper and even required us to use our hands to climb at times. Contact Information. Unlike all the other trails we’d been on, the Tamarack Trail wasn’t graded for equestrian use. Your ultimate Lake Aloha hiking guide for Desolation Wilderness near Tahoe, both for day hikes and backpacking trips, from a local! We had a permit for June 4. A few seconds later, the gust hit the tent like a semi-truck. After falling a few times, I finally made it to the drop off/pick up point for the boat taxi at upper Echo Lake. From the top of the pass, we still had a little over a mile to our campsite. The cold wind made us retreat into the relative warmth of our tents before the sun had fully set. Additionally, I got to meet and talk with a few other hikers and the boat taxi driver. The first section of the trail, until Tamarack Lake, is very popular. ... Lake Desolation Trail Hike - Virtual Treadmill - Duration: 1:27:07. 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