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Stories from the valley

The Echo Lakes: Great Winter Destination

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

Ready for an enjoyable time in the snow? Well, the mountains are ready for you!

I headed up to check out the conditions recently, as did many others, and I was not disappointed. There is enough snow now for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and certainly for snow play.

New Echo summit looking down on Lake Tahoe

An easy-to-reach and popular destination is the Echo Lake Sno-Park, located just off Highway 50 between Sierra at Tahoe and Echo Summit. The area around the Sno-Park is teeming with those eager to play in the snow. Donning skis, snowshoes or—if the snow on the trail is packed—heading off on foot to the Echo Lakes takes you away from the activity and enables you to experience beautiful vistas and hear the whisper of the wind in the tops of the towering pines .

Snow hiking near Echo Lakes

The road/trail to the Echo Lakes is across from the entrance to the Sno-Park. Many visitors park and head out the snow-covered road to Lower Echo Lake, where they’re rewarded with wonderful views of South Lake Tahoe en route. The distance to the lake is about 1.5 miles and is easily manageable by travelers of all ages.

For the more adventurous and snowshoe- or ski-equipped, you can head off the trail to the right or left and enjoy untracked areas of snow and solitude. You might enjoy a snack/ lunch on the porch of a tent cabin at Berkeley Camp or climb Becker Ridge to gaze over the Echo Lakes and look across to Sierra at Tahoe.

Taking a break from snow shoeing

When you reach the lake, you can sit on the docks and enjoy the view or head across the dam and follow the tracks for an even better outlook on Lake Tahoe. Lower Echo Lake is also a trailhead into Desolation Wilderness. I will describe parts of this area that you can explore in some of upcoming posts.

Before you head up to the Sierras, make sure you get your Sno-Park permit because there is no place to buy one at the summit. You can obtain your permit online here.

Have a great time enjoying your outdoor adventure!