Alpine Lakes


Lake Aloha Hike

Classification: Strenuous

Distance: 12 miles round trip

Highlights: A true wilderness experience, with pristine lakes and spectacular mountain scenery.

Location: Echo Lakes trailhead

Bike Allowed: No

Access from: West & South Shore

Description: From the dam at Lower Echo Lake, the trail follows the shoreline past gnarled trees and some quaint cabin homes. It then curves south over the rocky peninsula between Lower and Upper Echo Lakes, and arrives at a trail junction. Going down to the left will take you to the Echo Lake Taxi Pier, where a water taxi goes back to the chalet during peak season hours. The TRT continues straight and climbs steadily over more rocky terrain. After another 0.6 miles, the trail levels off as you enter Desolation Wilderness. In the next 2.9 miles there are many trails, so be careful not to stray off the TRT/PCT. At this time you will be climbing steadily through open granite areas, several mixed forests of red firs, mountain hemlocks and western white pine. Finally after 6 miles of fairly steady uphill you will arrive at Lake Aloha. This is the ideal spot to relax, have lunch, swim, and soak in the sun before returning to your car.

Permit Required: Click here for information about Desolation Wilderness permits

Star Lake Hike

Classification: Strenuous

Distance: 17.6 miles round trip (alternate access is available from Armstrong Pass)

Highlights: Star Lake and great vistas of Freel Peak.

Location: Kingsbury South trailhead

Bikes Allowed: Yes

Access from: South Shore Lake Tahoe

Description: For the first two miles, you will travel on a mix of steep sections, gentle switchbacks, and short dirt road stints, all through a forest of red firs and Jeffrey pines, over saddles and under Heavenly ski lifts. After 2 miles you cross Daggett Creek, and begin a 2.5 mile gentle climb through a more open forest with views to the east of Carson Valley and the ranges beyond. The trail follows a maintenance road for a short but steep descent into Mott Canyon, under another ski lift and over another creek. After 5 miles you reach Monument Pass and cross from the Carson side of the ridge to the Tahoe side. The next 2 miles are a gentle sandy path with mostly open terrain and dramatic views of Freel Peak. For the final 1.8 miles, the TRT rises to lovely Star Lake at the base of Job’s Sister through a fairly thick tree cover. Relax and enjoy the cool lake water, but make sure to leave enough time for your return hike.

Round Lake Hike

Classification: Moderate

Distance: 6.4 miles round trip

Highlights: Round Lake, Big Meadow, and wildflowers in early summer.

Location: Big Meadow trailhead

Bikes Allowed: Yes

Access from: South Shore Lake Tahoe

Description:  A trail leads 200 yards from the end of the parking lot to Hwy 89 — cross with caution and look for a trail marker on the south side of the highway. The trail climbs somewhat steeply to the south over rocky terrain, through a thick forest of Jeffrey pine, western white pine, and fir. Soon you will reach Big Meadow, with great views of the surrounding mountains enjoy the sites before continuing. In a little over 2.5 miles you will reach Round Lake which is rimmed by the lava and ash of Dardanelles cliffs. This is a fantastic lake for swimming; enjoy a dip before returning back to the trailhead.

Richardson Lake Hike

Classification: Moderate

Distance: 12.3 miles round trip

Highlights: Richardson Lake and shared trail with the Pacific Crest Trail.

Location: Barker Pass trailhead

Bikes Allowed: No

Access from: West Shore Lake Tahoe

Description:  Begin your hike heading south from the Barker Pass trailhead. The first two miles wind through groves of mossy trees, carpeted with ferns and periodically enhanced with small meadows with fields of flowering mule’s ear, lilies, Indian paintbrush and seasonal streams. The trail is mostly soft tread with a few rocky stretches. After 2 miles the trail intersects with Bear Lake dirt road. At the junction turn left and travel up 150 feet to meet back up with the TRT. The trail will become rockier continuing towards Richardson Lake. At 6.15 miles you will reach your final destination. Enjoy a break before returning back to the trailhead.