Pick a bluebird day and pack plenty of pep for an excursion to Echo Lakes, southern gateway to Desolation Wilderness and one of the most glorious (and dog-friendly) ski and snowshoe destinations in the Sierra. The connecting bodies of water just north of Highway 50 at Echo Summit are frozen over in winter, and their flat, easy-going surfaces are ideal for both human and canine novices.
Park in the lot at Johnson's Pass Road (Sno-Park permit required), strap on your gear and trek about a mile, mostly downhill, to reach the lower lake. Go as far in as you like: it's about a mile to the far side of Lower Echo and another 2.5 miles to the far end of the upper lake. Either way, prepare for scenic overload—and save plenty of energy for the uphill slog back to your car. At the end of a long day, you'll wish you were mushing behind a fresh team of dogs rather than panting alongside a tired Rover.