Smack-dab in the middle of the Desolation Wilderness, Echo Lake offers one of the most beautiful and accessible wilderness areas in the South Tahoe Basin. With activities ranging from hiking, boating, fishing and climbing, Echo offers locals and tourists an amazingly close escape from the hustle and bustle of South Lake. Located off Hwy 50 at 9900 Echo Lakes Rd., this area is a place that people return to again and again, and once you visit, you will too.
Originally protected in 1929, the Echo Lakes district has been a residential and recreational retreat ever since. Owned and operated on government land, the trailhead at Echo is one of many access points to the Desolation Wilderness/Crystal Range area. In the Deso. Wilderness there are over fifty alpine lakes, all offering exceptional fishing, swimming, and summer snorkeling. Also, Many backpackers use the Echo trailhead to access the Tahoe Rim Trail, as well as the Pacific Crest Trail.
When I go to Echo Lake, I love to climb Flagpole Ridge (immediately right of the trail) all the way to the summit of Flagpole Peak. Potentially one of the easiest peaks to bag in the Sierras, this hike/climb serves up very little exposure and can be handled by almost anyone, assuming you can walk on granite. Once on top of Flagpole, you have commanding views of the upper and lower Echo Lakes to the west--as well as the entirety of the Tahoe Basin to the east. Pound for pound, climbing Flagpole Peak might be the best view of Tahoe available for the amount of effort exerted.
For those looking to make some headway into the backcountry, The Echo Chalet offers ferry trips across lower Echo Lake, saving the casual hiker or fishermen nearly five to six miles of trail-walking. This service is an excellent way to get into the upper lake basins very early in the day…