Lake Aloha Trail is a 12.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Echo Lake, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
12.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,873 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

A long hike from Echo Lake past several lakes to a great swimming spot in Lake Tahoe's beautiful Desolation Wilderness The hike to Lake Aloha is the ultimate day hike in Desolation Wilderness. The trail is fairly flat for most of the hike, with only two sections of significant elevation gain, and you will pass by 5 lakes in under 12 miles round trip. After a hot day of hiking there is no better way to relax than with a swim in beautiful Lake Aloha where you can spend hours swimming from island to island. This trip can easily be extended to an overnight backpacking trip with a stay near Lake Aloha. Make sure to call ahead to the El Dorado Ranger Station to reserve a wilderness permit ($5 plus $5/person per night). You may find the area so remarkable that you will want to stay longer--it's hard to see all its beauty in such a short amount of time. For day hikes, fill out a day permit so that people know where you are in case anything goes wrong.

Probably the most beautiful lake in the Desolation Wilderness area. The stark, granite landscape and the crisp, blue waters of the lake make for a breathtaking sight.

hiking
28 days ago

Favorite hike of the year so far! I wouldn’t say it’s a difficult hike, more like moderate. The uneven rocks in the middle section will wear you out quick though. Views are amazing and once you get to Lake Aloha you’re totally secluded. We did take a wrong turn at the little loop near the end and it wound up being a short cut. Pay attention to the markers and your map because it’s not super well marked

1 month ago

Beautiful!! Offering different scenery’s

hiking
1 month ago

generally: gorgeous loop of many lakes (echo, lake aloha, lake of the woods) in desolation wilderness, with decent distance, manageable elevation, great scenery the whole way, decent trail conditions, would love to return and backpack (permits required in peak season, no fires)
parking: at upper or lower lot, free, no passes, road: mostly paved, doable in any vehicle
trail conditions: packed ground/rocky in some parts, easy to follow, not overgrown
scenery: gorgeous lake views the whole way
saw dozen + people on a nice weekend day, ferries run along echo lakes in summer, not running while we were there

hiking
2 months ago

Ok. Let's start the list

1. 6.5 hours for 12.41 miles on a artificial knee celebrating my 62 birthday
2. It is a moderate trail, only hard for those not accustomed to long treks or wearing the wrong shoes
3. Get there early if you want any decent parking spot. We arrived before 7am and still had to park up the hill.
4. Parking at the marina is only for 4 hours
5. It is dog friendly - we passed a few dozen dogs today. Be sure your fur friend is use to rocks
6. Aloha Lake is very low but the lower end is still holding water. The low water exposes a lot of rock formations which adds to the value
7. We had animal encounters - one small black bear - one mini bear (aka chipmunk) who felt he was obliged to check out our pack, our pants, our shirts, anywhere to find food
8. Take water - We took 4 quarts and used it all for 2 people
9. The trailhead starts at Echo Lake dam where the check-in point is
10. It is difficult to find the place to begin with so check you maps well

Now this really is the tale of 3 trails
1. The lower section travels along Echo Lake and Upper Echo Lake. It is mostly in trees. Mostly sand and small rock. Changes elevation very little as it follows along the shores. You will also walk behind a number of cabins which are interesting in the fact they are built there to begin with. The lakes are beautiful and offer different views depending on the sun and time of day
2. The climb - This middle section of the trail is rock, rock, and more rock. The rock is jagged in many areas which will bruise your feet if you not wearing good shoes. The climb is standard 2-3% forestry grade and not hard. Just a lot of rock. It is open but has a lot of interesting cedar tree formations growing in crevices. Just as you start the ascent up to the pass, you get the best views of Echo Lakes by far.
3. The top - fairly easy walk thru trees as you top out of the pass and start a slight descent into the Aloha basin. The rock is glacial and definitely different from the ascent. Trees are massive. We are puny in comparison. Once you arrive at Aloha, trails go every which direction, just stay to the right. The lake is low now so you need to go another few hundred yards down the shoreline to find open water. Majestic and grand views in all directions.

Enjoy.

backpacking
2 months ago

My first backpacking trip in 30 years and this was a great one - not too hard or too easy - and camping at Lake Aloha was wonderful.
The lake was quite low this time of year so would like to go back in June next year. The echo lake shuttle boat was not operational so we didn’t have the option to cut a few miles off to get back. Not that my daughter would have let me!
My favorite part of the hike was the forest after the switchbacks and also a little outing up the ridge to the west side of the lake.
I’m an older hiker and had planned to use a trekking pole but sadly it broke before I could use it and it wasn’t necessary for me even though there were some quite rocky parts.
Love this hike and will definitely do it again.

2 months ago

Beautiful hike with different degrees of difficulty along the way. I’d rate it somewhere between moderate to strenuous due to its distance round trip. Some parts of the trail along the Echo Lakes were gently sloping with packed dirt and rock. Past that the trail got steeper with only rocks underfoot. As you approach Lake Aloha the trail flattens and gets easier on the legs. The stark beauty of Desolation Wilderness opens up before you as the final destination approaches. There were a few dry shallow lakes along the way but Lake Aloha still had significant water as of Labor Day weekend. Our dog definitely felt beat after the 12 mile hike. Highly recommend booties for your canine buddies to protect against the sharp rocks.

hiking
2 months ago

09-02-18: Overall this is a very nice hiking trail. The trail through Echo lakes is easy to traverse with a nice view, if you don’t mind see cabins all along the shoreline. Past Echo Lakes, the trail becomes more harsh and quite rocky for some distance until getting closer to Lake aloha where the trail smoothes out through the forest. Unfortunately at this time of year, the waters around Aloha were very low or completely dried up. Better to go earlier in the season. I recommend that dogs wear booties and some of the trail may prove difficult for smaller breeds.

hiking
2 months ago

The trail is definitely not a “Hard” trail. It’s rocky but no elevation really. We hiked almost 6 miles back and couldn’t find Lake Aloha but we found plenty of other lakes and island. Definitely pretty view but if your the type of people who like your heart rate up for a strenuous hike this isn’t it. Mostly flat rocky trails. There is a lot of loose rock too so make sure your balanced and stable.

hiking
2 months ago

relaxing easy trail to lake aloha. water level is a little low but was still pretty easy to find a secluded spot to hangout. trail was very busy. I took the dogs with me and it wore them out pretty quickly. I wouldn't recommend taking dogs with you on a clear day. not much shade for a majority of the trail and their paws got pretty beat up on the Rocky parts.

backpacking
2 months ago

Great place to backpack for the first time. Definitely worth the effort to make it up to a beautiful lake. Our trail was about 8 miles there and 8 miles back. The lake was clear enough for you to see the bottom and was pure enough for you to even drink (we filtered our water.) Must come with family and friends and bring a chair for star gazing. We decided to take the water taxi back to enjoy the lake and view. It was 14 dollars and person and you can either pay with cash or card when you get back to the main dock.

hiking
3 months ago

Wonderful hike that hugs Echo Lake and then ascends to Lake Aloha, which is big and offers many islands to swim to. At the end of summer, I was still able to see snow on the surrounding mountains, and the reflection of the trees and clouds on the crystal clear water was beautiful. Much of the hike is on rocks, so wear sturdy shoes.

hiking
3 months ago

Took the water taxi, so 12 km of hiking on rocky paths from the Upper Echo Lake to the Lake Aloha.
Beautiful Lake Aloha but water level very slow, so didn’t get into the water.
Lake the Woods is awesome and better for swimming for today.

Difficult when hiking up from Lake the Woods back to the Pacific Crest Trail towards Echo Lake, high altitude causing low oxygen, this part will take a longer and certain persons may feel bad (as I did).

Be aware: 50 cents for the public phone for the return boat call.

3 months ago

Truly gorgeous with lots of people but enough cool spots to get some alone time if like me you were looking for that. I spent a night at Tamarack Lake midway between the trailhead at Echo Lake and Aloha because I couldn’t get a permit to camp at Aloha on my first night. It was kind of nice that it forced me to go slower and appreciate another lake in the area. But you could easily spend a few days near Aloha. Next time I’ll do Aloha on night 1 and go on to one of the other lakes further up the PCT from there for night 2. I’m no thru hiker and that’s good because I don’t feel compelled to blow through 30 miles of beauty in one day.

hiking
3 months ago

This trail is beautiful and thankfully, outside of being hazy for photos, the smoke was barely noticeable. Definitely plan for a long day hike... what slows you down is the constant rocky terrain. Most of the trail consists of walking on rocks. Bring proper shoes. A lot of exposed area so bring the sunblock. The wildflowers are everywhere and the lakes are stunning! Lake Aloha was a great lunch spot, but pretty windy and made it too chilly for a swim. Got in at Lake of the Woods it was perfect!

3 months ago

Great trail with beautiful lake at the end. Due to time constraints we had to take water taxi both ways. The “drop phone” was not operational and we didn’t have the coins to call the taxi back after arriving back at the dock. Luckily we had one phone with enough bars to call from end of dock. Take 50cents if u want the ride back. Gets hot in exposed parts; bring plenty sunscreen! Great views of Sierra crest at lake aloha.

backpacking
3 months ago

Great trail not too difficult. Awesome place for a chill backpacking weekend

hiking
3 months ago

Such a wonderful hike;) I did this hike middle part of the day so I recommend wearing sunscreen since most part of the hike has no shade and wear a good hiking shoes for the rocky terrain:) I will definitely recommend this hike! Enjoy the scenery!

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome hike but if a novice hiker or out of shape and also plan on doing it as a day hike, plan a very long day.

It is such a beautiful hike, and the meadows were filled with an array of flowers. The lake is just gorgeous and very welcoming for a swim. While heading over to the dam was blessed to see a beaver on the trail too. The trail had a variety of terrain from sandy, rocky, and granite.

3 months ago

First time hiker.. this was very challenging but we made it all the way to lake aloha for lunch.. best environment for lunch anywhere... My PB&J was delish... Anyway this was very exhausting and well worth it.. the scenery is breath taking, truly God's country or whatever u believe in.... We started out real early and ran into traffic late in the day.. no places for water along the way.. we actually took 10 bottles f9r the 2 of us and ran out just shy of the finish line.. I would also mention if u take a dog with u, get them boots and be considerate, I saw a lot of dogs just exhausted..2 owner's had to carry them back. They were labs, shocking.. anyway if you want a decent challenge for a rookie then this trail is a must try..

3 months ago

, v. .

backpacking
3 months ago

Did this hike with 8 month old puppy if your dog is not out side a lot I would suggest shoes for them. The hike is beautiful the lake is so relaxing . But lots of bugs and A TON of traffic. (We went up on a Sunday and down on a Monday). I was disappointed in some of the rudeness o n the trail by some day hikers. If I go back it would be in off season or when snow is on the ground

backpacking
4 months ago

This hike is beautiful! If you are an avid hiker you will not find it hard, as it’s quite flat. You do need some fancy footwork as the path is mostly pebbled granite rock. My boyfriend and I did this hike with our 7 month old GSD. If you have a pet with sensitive paws, you might want to consider dog booties. We spent the night at lake aloha
and it was glorious! The rangers walk along the path and check permits so make sure to take the time to get one beforehand.

hiking
4 months ago

Truly beautiful. Started at Echo Lake to Aloha Lake. The view at Aloha Lake is amazing and jumping into the water was refreshing.

Note: if you have a k-9 please be mindful of their paws. The granite rock will do a number of their paws (saw a couple of dogs having to be carried back).

hiking
4 months ago

I am section hiking the California PCT. This has to be one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done in my life. I day hiked this section plus Susie Lake and exited at Glen Alpine. I would of camped for at least two days at lake Aloha! Everyone on the trail is super awesome. I didn't want to leave. Already wanting to go back with my backpacking gear! Absolutely breath taking! Truly one of the most amazing alpine views in California.

hiking
4 months ago

First time on this hike - easily one of my favorites so far! We hiked to Lake Aloha and back on a Saturday. Started around 9:30am and arrived back at 5pm, including a 2 hr lunch break / nap break at the Lake. We ran into a few different day hiking, backpacking and PCT thruhiking groups, but the trail never felt crowded.

Parking, on the other hand, was tricky - definitely get there early if you want to find a spot in the lot or even off the side of the road. We saw some... interesting parking solutions from adventurous folks.

Once we arrived at the lake, there was plenty of space for people to “claim” different spots around the lake, and still get a bit of privacy. Weather was warm, so we also took the opportunity to dip into the lake! There were a few folks swimming from island to island - very relaxing. Though of course the water was crisp, the rock slabs were warm and a great place to dry off and nap afterwards :)

At this time (end of June) there were a lot of mosquitoes - unfortunately we didn’t bring bug spray, and left with quite a few bites. Also, there’s some shade on the trail but not much - don’t forget to bring a hat!

The trail has a lot of rocky sections, so trail runners or hiking boots are a good idea. We caved and splurged for the water taxi on the way back (picks up at the northern end of upper echo lake, there’s a sign on the trail for it). While steep at $14 per person, it was a perfect way to cap off the hike!

4 months ago

This trail is GORGEOUS, but hikers be warned, this is a tough trail to do all at once. It took us about 5.5 hours (stopping at Aloha for lunch) and we were exhausted by the time we got back to our car. 15+ mile hikes are nothing new to us either. The entire way to Aloha is a gradual incline. You will ask yourself many times over several miles “how am I still going uphill?” It’s a rocky trail, too. I definitely would not recommend to anyone to do it without good boots.

Overall, this is the toughest “moderate” trail we’ve done. It was lovely and so hard at the same time. It’s a one and done for us.

backpacking
4 months ago

We paddled canoe across Echo Lakes (Saving $56 and having a blast in the process) The winds blowing up the lake made for a tough paddle in, but 2 day later they were still blowing and we enjoyed the tailwind back. The weather was very breezy the whole 3 days. We camped at Lake of the Woods, which is protected but there are only designated sites around the lake which aren't easy to find. We set up an awesome campsite on Lake Aloha, only to have to move late in the afternoon when the wind got to gusty. We didn't swim because of the gusty winds, but there were a few brave souls that did swim. There was still snow on the Desolation Range and a few spots here and there. Oh and the mosquitos were thick, Be prepared. Beautiful place.

hiking
4 months ago

Once past the Desolation sign you are in truly beautiful surroundings. Once at Aloha its pretty much aw inspiring scenery. Hike is a long slow gain in elevation but worth every step. Plenty of wild lakes to explore once past Echo Lakes .

4 months ago

One of my most favorite hikes in desolation. I have done this as a day trip and as of two days ago did it as a backpacking trip. The trail is rocky so hiking shoes and poles I think are a must. The snow on the trail is all melted. Stayed on a Sunday night which was nice since less crowded.

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