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South Lake Tahoe, California, United States

Lake Aloha Hike

A long hike from Echo Lake past several lakes to a great swimming spot in Lake Tahoe's beautiful Desolation Wilderness

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 (30 votes, 7 reviews)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 11.7 miles / 18.8 km
Duration: Full day
Dog Friendly
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 two sections of significant elevation gain, and you will pass by 5 lakes in under 12 miles round trip. After a hot day of hiking there is no better way to relax than with a swim in beautiful Lake Aloha where you can spend hours swimming from island to island.

This trip can easily be extended to an overnight backpacking trip with a stay near Lake Aloha. Make sure to call ahead to the El Dorado Ranger Station to reserve a wilderness permit ($5 plus $5/person per night). You may find the area so remarkable that you will want to stay longer--it's hard to see all its beauty in such a short amount of time.

For day hikes, fill out a day permit so that people know where you are in case anything goes wrong.

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 at the trail head, so fill up water bottles ahead of time.

Points of Interest



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 make sure to give plenty of room so that cars can pass.


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.

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.

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 probably makes grocery trips a bit inconvenient, but it is probably worth it.

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.

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.

Climb to Lake Aloha


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.

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 on the rocky trail could mean a rolled ankle.

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.

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 and swim around for a while, but be prepared for some pretty cold water.

Walk back to the trail and continue along the north side of the lake and climb up some switchbacks before meeting up with the earlier trail just before Lake Aloha.

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 Mosquito Pass (don't go there without plenty of Deet).

You could spend hours climbing around on the granite but remember that you still have about 6 miles to hike back, so don't play for too long.

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.

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).


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.
Pictures in this guide taken by: chris
@ buddies and I went up there for a two night trip, weather hanges really quick so we set up camp and went to another lake we new of. The lake was Heather lake and we hiked on th Tahoe rim trail to get there. Weather changes really fast and the days we went it rained and thundered for about 3 hours starting around 3. Great experience though. If you dont know where to stay, go for the tree line.
Visited on Jul 20, 2015

by jameson.jessup on Aug 26, 2015
Departing into the Desolation is always a great feeling of peace. Bring a water filtration system to refill at the glacial lakes, and bring sunblock. Amazing views, great photos of the lake reflecting the bright sky and surrounding peaks. Truly gorgeous.
Visited on Aug 19, 2014

by mikegraham78 on Dec 23, 2014
I did this hike with our ladies' hiking group-ages 50+ and it was awesome in beauty and variety of flora and vistas, but challenging at points due to the heat of this particular day. So, take lots of water and enjoy a swim in Lake Aloha before heading back! We decided to take the water taxi back to the Echo lakes Lodge at the end of our day and were SO grateful that was available!!
Visited on Jul 14, 2014

by LisaBrockett on Jul 15, 2014
Şirinler 2 full izle

1. filmden çok daha iyiydi..inanılmaz eğlendim... gülmek çok iyi geldi ya... bunlarla büyüdük zamanında,özel bir kanalda haberler öncesi az izlemezdik zamanında... yaşım 30 büyük bir zevkle ve tebessümle izledim... gitmenizi tavsiye ederim.

buneya beyler bunun 5 i çıkmış amerikada insanlar buna bakmaktan bıkmışlar artık çok fazla bakmışlar ben bile bıktım ya kuzenim amerikadan getirdi bunun 5 ini olan üste okadar cok baktım ki bilgisayar çalıştırmadı vidioyu yani Amerika'ya gidin orada bunun 5 kat daha güzeli var anlarsınız siz :D

Visited on Feb 02, 2013

by laratvcom on Nov 24, 2013
I believe parking is free, but you should fill out a day permit for day hikes, and you need to get a wilderness permit from the El Dorado Ranger Station for overnight trips ($5 + $5/person per day)

by chris on Dec 30, 2010
Sounds fun! It's been years since I visited Lake Aloha and never via the Echo Lakes route.

What is the permit situation, and is it pay or free parking (I recall that other trailheads for the Desolation have pay parking and require (free) day permits and (pay) overnight permits.

by steverod on Aug 21, 2010
Very nice guide! Lots of good information that I forget about (parking, lack of water at trailhead). My favorite dayhike in Tahoe.

by ace_sierra on Aug 21, 2010

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