Lake Aloha Trail
The Lake Aloha Trail is an epic adventure through the high country that boasts breathtaking panoramas of the shimmering alpine lakes bounded by the craggy peaks of the Sierra Nevada Range. Put your stamina to the test as you climb up the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail up to the picture-perfect lake.
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Route Description for Lake Aloha Trail
If you are seeking a demanding hike in South Lake Tahoe, then the Lake Aloha Trail is an excellent choice. Offering postcard-worthy views, the trek up to the alpine basin is challenging, so make sure you are properly prepared for a taxing trek. Make sure you are acclimatized to the area’s elevation and check the forecast prior to your hike to mitigate the chances of getting caught in an afternoon storm. Dress with layers as insurance against chilly conditions, and wear footwear that supports your ankles to make the climb more enjoyable. Note that hikers are required to pick up a free permit at the trailhead prior to heading out on this trek.
The Lake Aloha Trail is a wonderful adventure that reveals the best of the best of Desolation Wilderness. This epic alpine excursion passes by not one, not two, not three, but several shimmering lakes—what more could you ask for? Mountain view? Well, this trek checks that box too. Additionally, this route travels through diverse terrains, from lush forestlands, shoreline cliffs, and grassy meadowlands—stimulating your senses with every step. Hopefully, you charged your camera because the scenes along this trail are unmatched in their beauty. Arguably one of the most scenic adventures in South Lake Tahoe, this is one of our favorite treks in the state of California.
Setting out from the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trailhead (PCT) off Echo Lakes Road, eager adventurers will guide you north past the water taxi pier and over the dam. From here, you will be granted sweeping vistas of Echo Lakes and those enjoying the waters. Soon you will climb up to an overlook that boasts views of Lake Tahoe in the north. Diverting you northwest, the path will pull away from the shoreline and up along a ridge which maintains to expose epic views. Wandering along the north side of Echo Lake, you will be granted views of the water taxi ferrying people across the water. Eventually, the path will climb up to Upper Echo Lake. Weaving through woodlands and exposed terrain, you will be granted views of both Upper and Lower Echo Lake from the Upper Echo Lake water taxi pier. This is a great place to rest before beginning the final leg of your trek.
At this point, you will start the more intense ascent up the rocky terrain, up to Tamarack Lake. From here, you will be overwhelmed with views of Ralston Peak dominating the southern skyline. After reveling in the panorama, continue climbing up the vertiginous route. This section demands the navigation of switchbacks up the rocky scree. Mind your footing, and you will eventually reach an intersection. Veer right here, following the PCT to Lake Aloha. Marvel in the beauty of the alpine reservoir, flanked by Jacks Peak in the northwest, Mount Price in the west, and Cracked Crag in the looming in the north.
If time permits, take a dip into the shallow waters of the alpine lake, swimming over to the several islands that adorn the reservoir. After swimming, rehydrating, and refueling, take the rightmost trail signposted for 17E40, tracking south. This route will guide you up a small ridge before dipping down into Lake of the Woods—another small, charming alpine pool. Indulge in the views of Pyramid Peak towering above the lake in the west. Continue trekking this trail, and you will eventually reconnect with the PCT. Here, veer right and retrace your footing along the path, along the shoreline of the Echo Lakes, and back to the trailhead.
Lake Aloha is a backcountry reservoir in the Desolation Wilderness that sits at an elevation of 2,474 m. The primary outflow of this scenic alpine lake is through Pyramid Creek—which is a tributary of the South Fork American River. Originally dammed in 1875, then reconstructed in 1955, Lake Aloha is drained each fall, so if you are hoping for the picture-perfect alpine scenery, best head out before then!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you hike to Lake Aloha?
Yes, the Lake Aloha Trail is a 20.1 km out-and-back hike that travels to the shoreline of the alpine lake.
Do you need a permit to camp at Lake Aloha?
Yes, you do need a wilderness permit for overnight backcountry camping at Lake Aloha.
How do I get to Lake Aloha?
The Lake Aloha Hike follows the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail into the High Sierra.
Can you swim in Lake Aloha?
Yes, take a refreshing swim in Lake Aloha after your strenuous climb.
Insider Hints for Lake Aloha Trail
- The lake is drained each fall, so plan accordingly!
- Take a refreshing swim in Lake Aloha and swim to one of the many lakes
- This trek is taxing, make sure you have the proper gear, comfortable shoes, and plenty of water
- Charge your camera, the scenes along this route are picturesque
- Head out in the early morning so you can spend time enjoying the lakes
- Arrive early to secure a spot in the limited lot
Getting to the Lake Aloha Trail Trailhead
The Lake Aloha Trail departs from the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trailhead at the end of Echo Lakes Road.
Lake Aloha Trail Elevation Graph
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Lake Aloha Trail Reviews
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