Discover Echo Lakes, California: A Mountain Paradise Near Lake Tahoe

Escape to the tranquil mountain waters of Echo Lakes, California, a haven nestled not far from South Lake Tahoe. Sierra Rec Magazine invites you to explore this serene mountain retreat, renowned for its seclusion, breathtaking natural scenery, and the rugged beauty of granite rocks and towering peaks that embrace each lake.


Upper and Lower Echo Lakes: A Paradise for All Seasons

Upper and Lower Echo Lakes offer a range of outdoor activities to delight every nature lover. In the warmer months, enjoy boating, fishing, and leisurely picnics by the pristine lakeshores. Explore the network of hiking trails that wind through the area, catering to all skill levels, with trail lengths ranging from approximately 2 to 9 miles (one way). Echo Lakes is popular Pacific Crest Trail destination for explorers. The PCt follows the Lake shoreline adn continues into Desolation Wilderness.

One must-see trail on the east side of Lower Echo Lake, starting from Echo Chalet, is a relatively flat 3-mile hike offering gorgeous views and enchanting rock formations. For a head start on your journey into the Desolation Wilderness, take the summer shuttle boat service across Upper Echo Lake, providing access to more extensive hiking and camping opportunities in this 60,000-acre unspoiled wilderness. Discover over 50 lakes and streams, traverse granite landscapes, wander through forests of juniper, pine, red fir, and hemlock, and stumble upon serene meadows bursting with wildflowers. 

Hiking trail Echo Lakes
Above Echo Lak eon the PCT Trail

Summer Bliss and Wintertime Adventures

The late summer season at Echo Lakes is perfect for a refreshing swim in the clear, invigorating waters. Nearby vistas offer great views of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Boating and waterskiing are popular pastimes, and the dam off Lower Echo Lake is a favorite fishing spot. Anglers can try their luck fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout along the lakeshores.

Echo Chalet’s main lodge is a hub of activity, boasting a grocery store, deli, and soda fountain. Stock up on essentials, sporting gear, and hardware supplies. Grab a sandwich, coffee, or a milkshake made with real ice cream at the Deli and Soda Fountain. You can also rent canoes and kayaks and take advantage of marine services and petroleum products.

Echo Chalet Marina: Your Gateway to Adventure

Echo Chalet Marina serves as the hub for the lake’s summertime boat taxi service, which conveniently transports visitors to cabins or the trailhead access point. Many hikers heading to Desolation Wilderness opt for this service, ensuring a swift journey across the lakes and into the wilderness. The boat taxi operates on-demand, weather and water levels permitting, and welcomes dogs onboard.

Echo Lakes Mountain Cabins: A Slice of Paradise

Reserve your slice of paradise at Echo Lakes, just ten miles from South Lake Tahoe, in one of the eight charming rental cabins known as “Chaletlees.” These rustic retreats feature knotty pine interiors and offer stunning lake and mountain views. While each unit is equipped with electricity and full bathrooms, there are no TVs, phones, radios, microwaves, or maid service, preserving the true essence of a mountain getaway. Most units include a kitchenette, making them ideal for longer stays. The shared front deck is perfect for soaking in the tranquil surroundings.

Echo Lakes Mountain Cabins & Land Use

Over 100 summer residences at Echo Lakes are nestled on U.S. Forest Service or private land, most of which have been cherished by families for generations. These rustic cabins are mountain retreats steeped in charm, with many perched right on the lake’s edge. While it’s rare to find one for sale, if you ever have the chance to own a mountain cabin at Echo Lakes, it’s a cherished opportunity to escape to the perfect summer retreat.

Echo Lakes History: A Glimpse into the Past

Upper and Lower Echo Lakes were formed by glaciers hundreds of years ago, and their tranquil waters still freeze over during the winter months. Echo Summit, towering above the lakes, was once a vital mail distribution route on skis from 1856 to 1876. Later, it became a part of the iconic Lincoln Highway, which spanned the entire United States from New York to San Francisco, after being built in 1913. Echo Summit also played a significant role as a training venue for the 1968 Olympic Summer Games.

Echo Lakes Chalet Resort, established in 1939, has been owned and managed by Tom and Kathleen Fashinell since 1984. The Chaletlees, built in 1947 on the mountainside above Echo Lake, offer a unique and rustic mountain cabin experience, accessed via a short hike.

Echo Lakes, California, invites you to experience the fresh mountain air, clear your mind, and embrace the tranquility of nature. Whether you visit for the day, stay for a week, or choose to make it your summer sanctuary, Echo Lakes promises an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s a destination where nature weaves itself into every moment, offering a quiet retreat that welcomes everyone seeking respite from it all.

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