Outside with Charlie: Echo Lake

By From page A11 | September 14, 2012


Echo Lake is a beautiful spot to visit any time of the year. Located just shy of Echo Summit, the lake is easily accessible right up until it snows.

There are actually two lakes here, Upper and Lower Echo Lakes. During the summer season, the Echo Lake Chalet is open. They close after Labor Day weekend, and travelers to the lake after that will need to take any necessary supplies with them.

The El Dorado Irrigation District begins to release water from the lake beginning on Sept. 4. and the view downhill from the dam is pretty intense when the water is flowing freely.

To get there, drive east on Highway 50 and turn on the Echo Lakes road, close to the summit. From Tahoe, it is about 10 miles west on Highway 50 to the turn.

The trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail and runs along the north side of the lake. From the parking lot at Lower Echo Lake to the end of Upper Echo Lake is right around 3.1 miles, mostly flat.

What hikers will find is a well-marked and well used trail. On the way out, the lakes, Upper and Lower, will be on your left.

All along the way the views of the lake and the cabins that dot the lakeside will delight the eye. It’s easy to imagine spending the summer here in one of them, relaxing on the rocks or taking a dip in the cool blue water.

On the south side of the lake is Becker Ridge, another hike for another day.

Hiking at a decent and relaxed pace, it will take a bit over an hour to get to the back of Upper Echo Lake. Once you reach this wonderfully wooded spot, explore a bit. Walk along the lake shore, enjoy the views.
This is a perfect spot for lunch, or a robust snack.

Continuing on the trail requires more preparation as it leads into the Desolation Wilderness, with trails to Mt. Ralston, Pyramid Peak, and Lake Aloha, along with a host of other backpacking possibilities in the Desolation Wilderness.

Hikers will need to take enough water and food for the day. Sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, first aid kit, and a good hat should be part of your pack. This trail is suitable for all ages of hikers.

Check the weather prior to heading out. It’s best to take rain gear with you, no matter what the report is. A map of the area, your camera, and expectations of a fantastic day should make this hike a very memorable one.

Charlie Ferris

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