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Hike to Jabu Lake in Desolation Wilderness

Echo Lake, California

based on 3 reviews


Added by Jake Young

Incredible views of Lake Aloha, the Crystal Range, and Desolation Valley. Resembles an infinity pool. Off the beaten path. Distance: 12 miles round trip (no taxi). Elevation Gain: 1100 Feet.

Although this hike can be done as a day hike, there are incredible camping spots near the lake. 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.

If you are doing this as an overnight as opposed to a day 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. If you don't take the Echo Lakes Taxi, you will see many interesting lake houses on the shores of Lower and Upper Echo Lake. Once you enter Desolation, you will encounter 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 a little less than five miles until you reach a fork where the sign indicates that both routes go to Lake Aloha. Take the right fork and walk on this fork for about 300 yards. Right after you take the fork look north and slightly east (or just to the right of the trail). You will be able to see a large rocky mountain like feature that is roughly 0.2 miles away. Once you locate this feature, leave the trail and walk through the forest and meadow towards the mountain. The lake is at the top of this feature in a large depression and lies 400 feet of elevation above the PCT.

This is a very interesting lake in that it is not fed by any streams and is perched on the top of a mountain. If you stand at the south western part of the lake and look northeast, the water almost looks like it connects to the sky. There are two large flat rock slabs that are great places to set up a tent.

This hike is not recommended if you do not have a topographical map of the area or have experience with off trail hiking and route finding.

After visiting the lake, retrace your steps to get back on to the PCT.

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Hike to Jabu Lake in Desolation Wilderness Reviews

I've been going to this spot for ten years, and half of the appeal was that no one knew about it (you could go three days without seeing anyone up there). Over the past few years, that has diminished. I went up there this summer and there were people everywhere! Hard to enjoy when you have groups camped close by on either side and constantly have people walking through your camp. It was good while it lasted, but its time to find a new spot I guess. Maybe next time you find a good spot, don't post it online for all the world to see...

But now that it's out there, I highly recommend Jabu Lake. Just know that there are only a few good camping options up here so you may hike up and find nowhere to camp if someone beat you to it. With that said, camping and catching a sunrise from here is one of the most amazing places to catch a sunrise in the whole Tahoe area. From the West End of the lake watching the sunrise over the East End creates the feeling of an infinity pool with a perfectly reflected sunrise in the still lake. It's also great for swimming because of the granite slabs that ease you into the water. I highly recommend Jabu Lake as a great side trip in the Lake Aloha area.

It's still quite snowy, but equally beautiful.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Ski Ralston Peak

Cross-Country Ski or Snowshoe to Ralston Peak

Backpack to the "Waterfall Camp" in Desolation Wilderness

Lake Aloha

Explore the Alpine Lakes of Desolation Wilderness

Hike the Echo Lake Trail