Backpack to the "Waterfall Camp" in Desolation Wilderness
Lake Tahoe › Echo Lake Trail
Added by Jake Young
Backpack to this secluded destination that's hidden from most of the traffic in Desolation Wilderness. At waterfall camp, you'll have the opportunity to explore over 50 waterfalls. If you choose not to take the water taxi, add 5 miles to the overall trip.
Although this hike can be done as a day hike, it is an awesome place to camp. There is a lot to explore and you will want to spend as much there time as you can. The easiest way to start this hike is to start at the Echo Lakes. There is ample parking above the marina and you even have the option of taking a water taxi across the echo lakes to cut off around 2.5 miles of the hike. The taxi costs $12 round trip.
Before you start this hike make sure you have an overnight wilderness permit. You can get these at the ranger stations and visitor centers in the Tahoe Basin or buy them online at this address: Recreation.gov.
This hike starts by steadily climbing the PCT towards Lake Aloha. On your way up, you will see trails turning off to Tamarack Lake, Lake Lucile, and Lake of the Woods. If you want to extend your trip, these are fantastic places to camp and are extremely accessible. Continue on the PCT for roughly five miles until you reach a fork where the sign indicates that both routes go to Lake Aloha. Take the left fork towards the dam at Lake Aloha. The rest of the hike is off trail and some route finding is needed. There are multiple dams on the southern part of Lake Aloha and crossing them is the easiest way to reach the other side of the lake. In certain sections, there are remnants of trails and these can be followed to point you in the correct direction. Once you have reached the western shore of the lake, start heading north following the water line. There are many small "fingers" of water that jet out from Lake Aloha that can disrupt your path and make you back track. It is important to do a small amount of scouting before you commit to one route.
Traverse the western shore until you reach the northwestern portion of Lake Aloha. This part of the lake resembles a bay and has enormous granite cliffs surrounding it. Keep walking around the western shore until you find an area where a considerable amount of water is flowing into the Lake and there is a sharp juxtaposition between the granite flows and a lush green area. Many topo maps will actually show the small pool that is present at the top of the waterfalls. The camp is almost directly below Mt. Price.
Once you reach the waterfall area, follow the waterfalls up the vegetated area. The best place to camp is above most of the waterfalls at a beautiful alpine pool. There is a roughly 15 foot sloping wall with black granitic extrusions that provide a natural ladder to get to the bench where the pool is located.
If you want to take sunset pictures, you will want to arrive much earlier than sundown because the crystal range will start casting shade relatively early. The sunrises here are incredible as the sun will rise above Lake Aloha which you will have views of if you camp on the bench.
- Sleeping Bag
- Hiking Boots
- Water and Food
- Cooking Equipment
- Photography Equipment
- Swimming Suit
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Fishing, Hiking, Photography
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
Which overnight permit did you use? Aloha or Mt. Price?
this is one of the most incredible campsites i've spent the night at. the traverse around the lake is well worth it!
More Adventures Nearby
Hike the Fallen Leaf Lake Trail
Lake Tahoe / Fallen Leaf Lake Trailhead
The Fallen Leaf Lake Trail is located in South Lake Tahoe, California. It is important to note that there is no trail on the east side of the lake.
Hike to and Free Climb Castle Spire in the Castle Crags Wilderness
Lake Tahoe / Castle Lake, California
Most people only see California's Castle Crags from the south but only a small portion of the granite pluton lay within the commonly visited state park.