Back to index TRT - Segment 6 - Big Meadow to Echo Summit
Trip Date:  07/28/2015

: 16.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 2700'

Group Size: 3

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate   Hard    Strenuous
TRT Segment 6 Trip
Download GPX GPX for this trip
TRT Segment 6 Trail Profile

Start Coordinates:   N 38 47.367, W 120 00.017     End Coordinates:   N 38 48.845, W 120 02.048

Car Shuttle Req'd:   Yes Parking Directions:   For parking at Big Meadow at the start of the hike, take Highway 89 south from Meyers (Hwy 50) or north from Pickett's Junction (Hwy 88) to the parking area for the Big Meadow trailhead on South Upper Truckee Road on the north side of the highway.  Park in the paved parking area.
For parking at Echo Summit, take Highway 50 to Echo Summit, and find the TRT/PCT parking area marked on the south side of the road at "Adventure Mountain" recreation area.
Hazards of Note:   Bikes on the first six mile segment, before turning off onto the Pacific Crest Trail for the last 10 mile.
Extended rocky section over the last four miles with some tenuous footing.
Crowd Factor:   Moderate to High.  On a tuesday during this hike, our group came into contact with no less than 60 other people along the trail.
General Notes:
From the parking at Big Meadow, head back toward the road, Highway 89, and you will have to cross the road almost immediately and head toward a Tahoe Rim Trail  kiosk on the other side of the road.  The trail will start switchbacking up for a little ways, and then within about half a mile you will reach the northern end of Big Meadow.  The trail crosses a small wooden bridge across a small stream, and then heads generally south through the large open meadow.  There are nice views toward the west of Little Round Top summit.  After passing through the meadow the trail heads into a forested section for the next few miles.  At Round Lake the trail opens up with a nice view of Mt. Tallac far to the north, and then it heads back into the forest until the trail meets up with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at around the 6 mile mark.  
This junction is the southernmost point on the entire Tahoe Rim Trail, at which point you will start to head north again through Meiss Meadow.  About 2 miles from here is the wonderful Showers Lake, a great spot for lunch at just about halfway through the day.  Every map I have seen shows the PCT continuing around Showers Lake to the west, but this is incorrect and actually heads around the lake on the eastern side.  There is a small sign pointing to Echo Summit at this spot which will guide you in the correct direction.
This next section of trail is one of the most spectacular along the entire TRT, with views south to Red Lake and Steven's Peaks, down into Lake Valley and Lake Dardanelle, and even the southern end of Lake Tahoe in a couple of spots.  Early in the spring and summer this area is also a blaze of wildflower color, and there were still many out even in late July on this hike.
Once you reach the high point of the hike, at exactly 9000' in elevation at the end of the climb from Showers Lake, you will see a small junction sign for Schneider Camp, which would lead you around the base of Little Round Top mountain to the west and then south.  You will continue straight north, and head mostly back into the forest for the next few miles, passing junctions to the left first to Sayles Canyon, and then Bryan Meadow.  Both of these will take you to a trailhead near the Sierra at Tahoe ski area.  The last four miles head mostly downhill, along some very rocky trail that needs careful attention to footing along the way.  The segment finishes at the parking area for Adventure Mountain just at Echo Summit.
One of the very helpful TRT kiosks that are available at most of the official trail heads.  They include good information as well as segment maps that you can take along with you with details of the particular part of the hike. Trailhead sign
My hiking partner Mark at the Big Meadow parking area with a TRT dedication plaque in the background.
Ready to go 
Across the highway, there is a junction pretty quickly into the trip which will send you either to Big Meadow (the correct way,) or to Scott's Lake.  The Scott's Lake trail is a pretty hike as well, but not the way you want. Across the road 
View south toward the Carson Pass area near the beginning of Big Meadow. Out of the forest
Mark and Don crossing a small stream near the north end of Big Meadow. Early bridge 
A look at the trail through Big Meadow heading south toward Carson Pass in the distance. Big Meadow trail
A view of Little Round top to the west from along the Big Meadow trail.  The second section of trail later in the day heads north right along the top of the lighter granite seen in the distance. Little Round Top
A little after Big Meadow is a junction with the Lake Valley trail, which heads off to the west and is the primary way to get to the popular Lake Dardanelles in the middle of Lake Valley. Dardanelles junction
Looking down at Round Lake after a quick stop just before this spot.  Mt. Tallac in the middle of Desolation Wilderness is visible as the tallest peak in the distance. Round Lake 
The junction of the Big Meadow Trail with the Pacific Crest Trail is right near the Meiss family cabin structures here in the middle of Meiss Meadow.  This is where the trail turns to the north. PCT junction
First progress indicator along the section of trail which the TRT and the PCT both share. Trail marker
The view back south toward Stephen's Peak as the trail climbs out of Meiss Meadow and toward Showers Lake. Looking south 
The view of Showers Lake we had while stopping to enjoy lunch at this gorgeous spot. Showers Lake
Despite what all the maps say at Showers Lake, the trail actually goes around the eastern side of the lake.  Look for this marker to ensure you are headed along the correct path. Correct way 
Climbing up the trail out of Showers Lake offers the first really great view of Lake Tahoe on the day. Lake Tahoe
Looking down at Lake Dardanelles in the middle of the Lake Valley below you.  Much earlier in the day was a junction off the Big Meadow trail which would take you to this lake from the eastern side. Lake Dardanelles 
There is a significant amount of elevation gain on this section of trail out of Showers Lake, but it offers amazing views in all directions. Climbing
Looking back at the trail heading up the slopes below Little Round Top Peak. Looking back
A good glimpse over at Freel Peak and Armstrong Pass, the section of the TRT which was covered in the segment prior to this one. Freel Peak
Nearing the very top of the elevation for this segment, the trail starts to head back into the forest after a long climb out in the open. Typical section of trail
The last look into Lake Valley before disappearing back into the forest. Last look back
Sign for the junction of the Schneider Cow Camp trail, which could be a bail out point for this hike as necessary. Schneider junction 
A long section of fairly non-descript forest hiking follows for the next couple miles, but then there are two junctions to trails first off to Sayles Canyon, and then a mile further for Bryan Meadow, seen here on the eastern edge. Bryan Meadow
The last four miles pretty much just head downhill rapidly, but there is one spot on a switchback with this killer view of Lake Tahoe to the north. Tahoe view
Much of this section is very rocky, a good warm up for the next section through Desolation Wilderness up ahead. Rocky section Cairn
Sheer granite rock wall near the edge of Scout Peak. Scout Peak rocks
The first combination PCT/TRT marker we saw, just about 1/4 mile from the end. Last marker
Brand new history marker at the parking lot for Echo Summit. Echo Summit
GPS track of the hike starting in the upper right, heading down to the bottom left and then back up again toward the top. GPS Track of the hike