Johnson Pass Road at Echo Summit, Highway 50
South Lake Tahoe, California 96158
Local Phone: (530) 543-2600
This scenic area at Echo Summit is justifiably popular with DogTrekkers as leashes are not required away from developed areas. A pair of lakes in a scenic granite basin are the twin attractions. A portion of the Pacific Crest Trail runs along the right (north) side of the lakes, leading in about 2.5 miles to the border of the Desolation Wilderness Area (permits, required, can be picked up at a kiosk at the Echo Chalet trailhead). In summer, a water taxi shuttles hikers (and dogs) between the far end of the upper lake (near the wilderness boundary) and the marina near the Echo Chalet parking lot. (Tip: take the taxi out in the morning to maximize your time in Desolation and minimize the time required to get there.)
In winter, the lakes freeze over and are a popular snowshoe and cross-country ski destination. A Sno-Park permit is required for parking in the lot on Johnson Pass Road; from there, it's about a mile down down the snow-covered road to the lakeshore. The Chalet which offers a store and rustic lodging facilities, is closed in winter.
Don't forget bags for picking up after your dog.
Parking: upper lot at the Echo Lakes Resort.
Wilderness Permit: A wilderness permit (free) is required for day hikers entering Desolation Wilderness Area. Pick one up at the trailhead at Echo Chalet
Water and food: A small store at Echo Chalet sells supplies
Best time of year for this hike: Early to mid-summer
Degree of difficulty: Moderate
Distance: It's about 2.5 miles to the far end of the upper lake and the border with Desolation Wilderness. From there, many other lakes can be accessed. Aloha Lake, in the scenic granite basin, is a popular destination for many. The hike to Aloha is about 12 miles round-trip from the Chalet.
Water taxi: Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a water taxi operates between the Echo Chalet marina and the end of the upper lake. In 2014, the fare is $12 per person each way and $5 per dog, with a $36 minimum to run a boat.
Leashes: Dogs must be leashed on the water taxi and under voice control on the trail. Please do not let your dogs wander off onto private property; many summer cabins are situated near the trail.
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