Summary: 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.
Trailhead: From South Lake Tahoe, take Hwy. 50 southwest towards Placerville/Sacramento (and eventually Echo Summit) -- do not turn onto Hwy. 89. Once you reach Echo Summit (sign), continue another mile on Hwy. 50 and turn R at Johnson Pass Rd. Go .6 mi. & turn L at junction (Echo Lakes Rd.). Take Echo Lakes Rd. .9 mile and park in large parking lot above the lake. Walk to trailhead to begin hike from lower Echo Lake, and adds 5 miles RT to your hike to Tamarack Lake. Or, walk to the boat docks at Echo Chalet and pay $7 pp to take the water taxi (7 a.m. - 7 p.m., 2 hikers minimum) to upper Echo Lake and hike uphill to junction with Tahoe Rim Trail. There is a call box for return trip on water taxi. Call Echo Chalet at 530-659-7207 for information on water taxi. There is a nice picnic table & lunch spot a very short walk along the shoreline trail leading from the upper Echo Lake drop off point -- this is a perfect place to leave non-hikers while you hike to Tamarack. (Lat:38.83442 Lon:-120.04383)
Trail Guides for Tamarack Lake (Desolation Wilderness, TRT):
The Tahoe Rim Trail
by Tim Hauserman (Wilderness Press)
Tahoe Rim Trail MAP (nice topo & good info $10)
by Tom Harrison (Tahoe Rim Trail Assoc)
Tahoe Rim Trail MAP elev profile by Trailview maps
by companion to book by Tim Hauserman (available from Tahoe Rim Trail Assoc)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Horses,
Ranger Contact: USFS Eldorado NF Desolation Wilderness (Camino, CA) at (530) 644-6048
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Kat Green, who has posted 86 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by HCB on 8/13/2016
hike was great and just as described. Parking is the issue. We arrived at 9am and all,the spaces and road parking were gone. We had to park a good half mile back towards hiway 50. Realitively little shade so hot. Parking and heat are two good reasons to go EARLY.
Reviewed by BCP on 7/25/2011
Error: Reserved Word Found: update
Reviewed by Dan on 7/3/2007
Excellent hike with spectacular views. A must for anyone wanting to see the beauty of California.
Reviewed by Sri on 9/20/2003
Excellent family hike, especially if you want to introduce family to a more rocky climb. Get good footing shoes, prepare family. Tamarack Lake is just beautiful and pristine for lunch stop. Distance and elevation is very modest and manage-able. Boat ride is a lot of fun. Be prepared for rain (July), take light rain-gear in day pack.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: California Hiking, California Trails, California Hikes, El Dorado County Hiking, El Dorado County Trails, El Dorado County Hikes