Echo Peak is located on the eastern boundary of the Desolation Wilderness. As is true for almost any peak in Desolation the views from Echo Peak are spectacular, but due to its proximity to Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake, the views of those two bodies of water from its summit are only rivaled by the views from Mount Tallac. The summit can be reached via a straightforward class 1-2 route, but the hike can be spiced up a bit by climbing neighboring Flagpole Peak via its class 3 route first before continuing on to Echo Peak.
For hikes in the Desolation Wilderness, permits are required. Be sure to get a self-issued permit at the kiosk down at the Echo Lake boat-launch ramp. Parking at the upper lot is free and seemingly time-unlimited. If you approach Echo Peak via Flagpole Peak, you still need a permit, because although the Flagpole is located outside the Desolation area, the wilderness boundaries run right through the summit of Echo Peak.
For more permit information visit the Desolation Wilderness Permit Information Page.
The trailhead for Flagpole consists of the Echo Lake trailhead and parking area. From US Hwy 50 in South Lake Tahoe, proceed to Echo Summit and look for a "Sno Park" turnoff just west of the now defunct "Little Norway" resort just 1.1 miles west of Echo Summit. This turnoff is Johnson Pass Road, and follow it back northeast 0.5 miles to Echo Lakes Road. Turn north and follow this road 1 mile back into the forest until the Echo Lakes parking area is reached. Start hiking from here, crossing the Echo Lake spillway.
Follow the PCT along the eastern side of the lake and then depending on the route you plan to take (See either Flagpole Peak traverse route for more difficult class 3 scramble or Echo Lakes route for easy class1-2 hike).
When To Climb
The road to the trailhead is closed for much of the winter, so the approach to the Echo Lake Trailhead is easier in the summer. However, the mountain can be climbed in the winter as well, but as the Desolation region tends to retain snow for a long time, it is more challenging. Furthermore, when approaching via Flagpole Peak, snow or ice accumulations on the granite slabs would make climbing more difficult.
Camping is allowed in the area, but the usual restrictions of the Desolation Wilderness Apply, when camping inside the wilderness area.
See the Desolation Wilderness Page for more information on the permit and quota regulations and camping specifics.
Call for conditions:
Eldorado National Forest Information Center
Phone: (530) 644-6048
Open seven days a week, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
with extended hours in the summer.
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
Phone: (530) 573-2694
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