Back to index Echo Lake to Lake Aloha Hike
Trip Date:  05/09/2015

: 13.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1000'

Group Size: 7

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Echo Lake to Lake Aloha Trail Route
Download GPX GPX for this trip
Echo Lake to Lake Aloha Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 50.063, W 120 02.641
or overflow parking at N 38 50.022, W 120 02.552
    End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 50 to just west of Echo Summit, and then turn onto Johnson Pass Road (Lincoln Highway) from the road (marked with signs to Echo Lake.)  Turn left on Porcupine Road, which becomes Echo Lakes road.  Follow this road to the parking coordinates.
Hazards of Note:   The first couple miles of the hike are along a very rocky section of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Watch footing along this route. Crowd Factor:   Moderate to High.  This is a popular entrance into Desolation Wilderness and many of its most popular destinations.  Get there early on a weekend to find parking near the trailhead.
General Notes:
Find the trailhead at the south end of Lower Echo Lake, just past the lodge on the east side of the lowest parking lot.  There is a kiosk here for Desolation Wilderness permits.  Cross the metal bridge going across the lake outlet and pick up the trail from this spot.   NOTE:  During the summer you can choose to take the boat shuttle to the far end of upper Echo Lake from this spot for a nominal cost, and that will save you 2 1/2 miles each direction that you use this service.

Once you pass the Upper Echo Lake on the trail or from the end of the shuttle, you will see the Desolation Wilderness signpost indicating entrance into the area.  If you wish to take a side trip to the quiet Triangle Lake, there is a steep junction up to your right soon after the Wilderness sign that you will need to turn at. Otherwise, continue on the way to Lake Aloha to the west and slightly north, following the Pacific Crest Trail for the next few miles.  There are two junctions on the left which will both take you to Lake of the Woods, a worthy destination as well but a means of adding additional mileage to your trek.  As you near Lake Aloha, there are two turnoffs marked to the left that will wind around to the lake, or continue on the PCT and you will also reach the lake a little further north than the other trails will take you.

There are many areas here to sit and admire both the lake and the Crystal Range in the background, and you can choose either to return back the way you came, or hike a little to the south and head toward Lake of the Woods.  This is a  worthy diversion from the trail as it winds around the base of Keith's Dome and eventually back to the Pacific Crest trail and the nearly four miles back to the start of the hike.

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.

A view north across Lower Echo Lake, toward the destination for the day at the base of the peaks just showing in the distance. Crystal Range from Echo Lake
The early section of trail passes right along the base of the sheer Flagpole Peak.  You can reach this from the trail by continuing past the peak for about a 1/4 mile and then cross country scrambling up a draw to the north of the peak and then heading on the ridgeline back to it. Passing flagpole
Water was everywhere on this day, along the trail and cascading down from above us. Water
Looking back toward the start of the trip from near the end of Lower Echo Lake. Passing by the Echo Lakes
Our group at the Wilderness boundary just a little bit past Tamarack Lake. At the boundary
Lots of water all along the trail in the spring, and even more in the afternoon as the sun melted more snow. Water on the trail
Heading up the continual climb over rocks on the Pacific Crest Trail. Heading up rocks
Tamarack Lake at the base of Mt. Ralston. Tamarack Lake
Trail marker to Triangle Lake starting the section of deep snow. Markers Deep Snow
Heading along above Lake Lucille with Dick's Pass in the background. Lake Lucille & Dick's Peak
Looking west across Lake Aloha toward Pyramid Peak. Aloha and Pyramid
A look north across Lake Aloha toward Little Pyramid Peak in the background. Looking north
Lots of great places to sit around the lake for lunch and amazing views. Lunch on the rocks
It's a long way for an out and back trip, but everyone enjoyed the dramatic setting of the lake and Desolation valley.  Making our way back
Our trail dog showing off how much water we had all along the way back in the early spring. Water
Looking down at Upper Echo Lake with just about 3 miles left to go. Back to Echo
GPS track of the hike. GPS track of hike