Tamarack Lake

MODERATE 32 reviews

Tamarack Lake is a 7.1 mile out and back trail located near South Lake Tahoe, California and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and horses and is best used from March until November. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

7.1 miles
770 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly


horseback riding

Delightful secluded lake on Tahoe Rim Trail, short, rocky climb - water taxi! Don't let the modest distance/gain to Tamarack fool you. This is such a rocky climb you can wear out just trying to keep your footing, especially if not used to hiking at almost 7,800 ft. Views of Echo lakes and surrounding peaks are incredibly breathtaking, with flowers, aspens, pines, critters. Tamarack Lake is a perfect destination for beginners, small children, or the 1st overnight hike trip. Horses are allowed but trail is very rocky, with large boulders & many smaller, loose rocks covering the trail (hard on dog paws). The water taxi is great fun, but waiting for it may add up to an hour to your hike. Thrilling when the boat slows in narrow channel between upper & lower Echo lakes. Continue on the Tahoe Rim Trail past the signed turn to Tamarack, you'll reach Lake Aloha just past the meadows -- worth the longer, more strenuous hike. Permits are required to hike in the Desolation Wilderness (n/c) & are available at both upper/lower Echo lakes.

1 month ago

Very Nice Hike! The trail is really icy right now with a little snow.
We needed snow shoes at the very end near Tamarack but other than that it's pretty packed snow and ice.
We parked in the upper parking lot due the road in being very icy and slippery too.
Echo is not totally frozen over yet.
From the upper parking lot my gps showed 8.1 miles.
Bummer is my phone didnt have signal so pics I took and tracks are gone. Glad I had a Garmin for back up.

2 months ago

Always a beautiful hike. VERY wet today about 2 miles in, like walking up a running creek. Waterproof boots and gaiters worked great. Snow at 2.5 miles and snow shoes needed after 3 miles. Some sleet and hail last night camped next to the lake so just crampons made the walk out easy.

5 months ago

Was a pretty easy hike along the lakes. Once you depart from them, the trail gets steeper and rockier. Loose granite and shale in many places. Lots of people on the trail, but it was Labor Day weekend. Too many off leash dogs. At the lake the place was nice and quiet until these 4 kids showed up with their yappy dog. Barked every 2 min and the kids were super loud. Oh and then on the day we hiked out, there were some people who thought it would be awesome to have drone races around the lake. Glad it was our last day. Hiking out we took the water taxi back. Overall a super trip. But still to close to the trailhead to keep out the city folks.

5 months ago

This was a beautiful, but very rocky hike. We ended up taking the boat back from upper echo lake.

6 months ago

Great hike, although a little too many people for my liking. Many groups of kids and people talking and making noise. Might be better after school starts. Tamarack Lake is beautiful, secluded and quiet, which was nice. For another even more secluded lake, keep on the trail to the left side of Tamarack to come across Ralston Lake.

6 months ago

Little rocky in places but great day hike.

6 months ago

On the easy side of moderate and so beautiful. The trail is partly shady, wildflowers along the forest parts of the trail and Tamarack Lake is stunning!

6 months ago

Took my 6year old son on this hike as his first overnight backpacking trip. He did awesome and had a blast. Great hike for a beginner.

7 months ago

Beautiful Lake. Only went half way to Tamarack Lake but more of an easy hike than moderate that far

7 months ago

I did this hike last year and I was with my friend who isn't much of serious hiker. Great trail, amazing views. Hard in spots but once you get to the lake you have great views of Echo

7 months ago

6/24/2017 Hike
This trail is amazing! Trail was more a stream in some areas, there are a lot of downed trees, and some snow packs blocking the path. It was safe enough to walk on with just regular hiking shoes so we pushed through and it was very much worth it! The views from above of Lower and Upper Echo Lakes were phenomenal and getting to see the still frozen Tamarack Lake was an amazing treat. Highly recommended but prepare for soaked shoes, still lots of snow melting from higher elevation.

8 months ago

My husband and I have done this hike a few times in summer and early fall but we wanted to go this Memorial Day 2017 and boy was there a lot of snow! It took us much longer to reach Lake Tamarack than usual and you definitely need micro spikes or snow shoes, we used the micro spikes that go over our hiking boots and they worked great. There were people doing it without spikes or snowshoes but they were sliding around and that's dangerous on the steep slopes. Also about half way through upper echo it becomes all snow so no trail to follow. Be sure to have a gps or be very good with your compass and map! It was like a totally different hike and even though it tooks us longer we really enjoyed to different scenery and solitude. Also there are now little streams everywhere and most of the trails have become streams as well so be careful.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

It was a good choice for my first backpacking experience. The last up incline was a killer with all the loose shale and uneven terrain. The lake is pretty and not to populated for overnight stays

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Great mid-August hike. Beautiful weather, beautiful views. Very little climb, easy on the knees. Lake views for most of the trek. Should wear mid-thick soled shoes. Lots of dogs on the trail :) defs get an early start on weekend days- lots of people want go enjoy this Sierra beauty.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Tamarack and Ralston Lake (just 5 mins beyond) are gorgeous! I took water taxi ($14 one way) to far end of Echo Lake so Tamarack Lake was only 1 mile hike, then went to Ralston Lake and hiked all the way back to parking lot, so about 6 miles total. Hike along ridge above Echo Lake was quite sunny and hot with very little shade so I'm glad I only did it one way. When you arrive at Tamarack Lake, consider leaving something at the trail to mark your return path (like water bottle or jacket) bc it may be hard to find it again, esp if you go on to Ralston Lake. Bring $ for ice cream at Echo Lake Chalet at the conclusion of your hike!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Took the water taxi as we had a first time hiker whom was 7 yrs old. We camped at lake tamarack. Really gorgeous views, can't wait to return abs explore some more!

Friday, June 03, 2016

We took the water taxi to the end of Upper Echo Lake and hiked to the trail for Tamarack Lake. We wanted to see how far we could get before the snow got too deep so we continues towards Lake of the Woods. We made it about another half a mile before we got into snow. So we turned around and took the trail to Tamarack Lake. The lake was still partially frozen over but the ground around it was clear of snow. Took the trail all the way back to the Chalet at Lower Echo Lake. I'd expect to be able to get into Lake of the Woods within another 1-2 weeks at the rate the snow is melting. This was a beautiful hike.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Beautiful hike! Loved it. The only downside are all the people. The rest of Desolation is isolated, or at least gives the impression with few hikers, but this trail to Tamarack was very crowded. Parking was crazy! People were parked way out into the road narrowing it down to a one lane road. We walked down to the Chalet and decided to take the boat taxi because it sounded like a unique start to the day. We then hiked to Tamarack for lunch, and hiked back to the Chalet. Beautiful views and beautiful granite. The trail was marked. It was at the junction of Triangle and the PCT.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Great hiking and ill do it again. <3

Saturday, September 08, 2012

There's no water taxi in sept. you must hike around echo lake to get to the unmarked trail head. The directions from this site are very wrong.

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