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Lake Aloha Hike

A long hike from Echo Lake past several lakes to a great swimming spot in Lake Tahoe's beautiful Desolation Wilderness
id_1682082
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 11.7 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview:  The hike to Lake Aloha is the ultimate day hike in Desolation Wilderness. The trail is fairly flat for most of the hike, with only... more »

Tips:  Parking at Lower Echo Lake can be tough--get there early or you will need to park on the side of the road. There is no water fountain... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Parking

Parking can be very tough at Echo Lake, especially on weekends during the summer. Try your luck at the first parking lots on either side of the road. If that is full, head down the road to the store and boat dock where they may be some day-only parking.

If you can't find anything, improvise by finding a spot along the road you drove in, but... More

2. Trailhead

Walk to the right side of the boat docks, following the sign that says "Trail". The trail begins on the right side of the lake after you walk over the dam where you will likely find people fishing.

From the trailhead you will have a great view all the way to the other side of the lake.

3. View of Lake Tahoe

After the initial climb you will come to a small opening as the trail levels out. Walk to your right towards the break in the trees for a view of Lake tahoe and the California-Nevada border.

After you take some pictures join back up with the trail and continue along the side of Lake Aloha.

4. Lower Echo Lake

For the next section of the hike you will get to walk about 100 feet above Lower Echo Lake, with a spectacular view the entire time. You will likely see boats ferrying people across the river, and you can see a few cabins along the shore of the lake. The amazing location comes with a a drawback of needing to hike or boat in to your cabin, which... More

5. Leaving Lower Echo Lake

As the trail bends to the right take one last moment to appreciate the view of Lower Echo Lake. The next section of the hike hugs Upper Echo lake before you start the first significant climb.

6. Upper Echo Lake

Upper Echo Lake is not as large as Lower Echo Lake but it is still quite the view with the few islands in the middle. When you reach the far end of the lake look back to where you started for a great view of both lakes in the distance.

7. Climb to Lake Aloha

8. Tamarack Lake

You can take an optional 0.5 mile detour to see Tamarack Lake up close (you will hike down to the lake which means you will have to hike back up again to get back to the main trail).

If you are short on time you will still have some great views of the Tamarack Lake with Ralston Peak in the background as you continue up the switchbacks.

9. Steep Climb

The next section of the trail is the steepest and hardest part of the entire hike. Not only is the elevation gain significant, but the entire trail is made up of small to medium sized rocks which can be tough on the feet.

To your left you can see Tamarack Lake below with Ralston Peak behind, but don't get too lost in the view because a misstep ... More

10. Trail to Lake of the Woods

About a mile before you reach Lake Aloha you can take an optional route with a stop at Lake of the Woods. You will hike down a fair amount to reach the lake, which means climbing back up on the other side, but the Lake is worth the detour if you have the time and energy.

11. Lake of the Woods

Jump off of the trail briefly and walk towards the water, but be careful not to disturb any of the other hikers who may be camping in the campground near the water.

Walk out to the large granite slab (it's hard to miss) for a great view of the lake, and an excellent place to take off your hiking boots and dip your feet in the water, or jump in... More

12. Lake Aloha

A few minutes (and a little elevation loss) after the trails meet up again you will find yourself at Lake Aloha. You can wander around on the granite shore finding the perfect place to rest.

If you are up for it, swim around from island to island while enjoying the refreshing deep-blue water and the amazing view across Lake Aloha towards... More

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13. The Hike Back

If you didn't stop at Lake of the Woods on the hike in you can visit it on your way back, otherwise head straight back towards Echo Lake. You will have some climbing to do in the beginning but afterwards it is exclusively downhill.

Don't think that means it's all easy though--the rocky trail can be hard on your feet.

14. General Store

Your basic general store. You can buy food, snacks, various popular gear items and clothing. There is no water fountain to fill water bottles so you must come prepared, buy some bottled water, or filter the water from the lake (If you choose to do this you may want to get further from where the boats are where it may be a bit cleaner to filter).

15. Restrooms

These are the only restrooms on the trail (other than nature's bathroom). Plan ahead and use them while you still can. These bathrooms are basically cement port-o-potties with no running water to wash your hands.