If you love stunning views, secluded lakes and mesmerizing sunsets – you must visit Desolation Wilderness. For the full experience of waking up in the mountains with no one in sight, plan a backpacking trip!
To access Echo Lake from South Lake Tahoe – take highway 50 towards Sacramento, turn right on Johnson’s Pass Road and then a slight right onto Echo Lakes Rd. There are two parking lots, a restroom and general store located at the trailhead. This 15 mile round trip hike is fairly easy to follow and it intersects with the PCT and Tahoe Rim Trail. If you are day hiking be sure to fill out a free day permit at the trailhead, if you are backpacking reserve a permit here. For most of the trail expect heavy traffic consisting of day hikers, backpackers and dogs. The trail to Lake Aloha is well marked and there are a few places to filter water along the way.
We camped at the very private American Lake (next to Aloha) we did not see one person during our stay there. Please be aware that even on the hottest day of summer, this area can become very windy and cold. Pack warm!
Other suggested Desolation Wilderness backpacking trips: