Echo Peak


Summary

Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 10.2 miles round trip
Starting
Elevation
7350 feet
Cumulative
Elevation
Change
+1700, -1700 feet
Navigation Road and map
Time Full day
Season Mid-December through mid-April (it may not be safe to ski on the lakes early and late in the season)
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Echo Lake
Start Echo Lake Sno-Park. From 1.2 miles west of the Echo Summit Maintenance Station on Highway 50, drive 0.6 mile east on Johnson Pass Road toward Berkeley Camp to the Sno-Park. The actual trailhead is the snow-covered road opposite the entrance to the Sno-Park.


Description

The climb to the rocky summit of Echo Peak is a 100 percent perfect tour for both experienced skiers and skiers desiring to tackle their first ski ascent. Easy access, although more than three miles to the start of the climb, and the easy route-finding will give newcomers to peak bagging on skis a sense of security. Skiers skilled in the art of telemarking can enjoy 1300 feet of linked turns on the descent.

Image of Echo Peak
Echo Peak

The climbing, through a mixture of open and wooded areas, is steady and the gradient only modestly steep for a peak climb. The view from the summit is a 360-degree panorama — an ideal setting for a well deserved lunch. Directly below the steep cliffs to the north are Angora Lakes and almost at your finger tips are Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe. Of course, you will have more than sufficient opportunity to enjoy the Echo Lakes basin and the views to the south.

Image of snow-covered Lower Angora Lake below Echo Peak
Snow-covered Angora Lakes, Fallen Leaf Lake (left) and Lake Tahoe

One word of advice for planning a trip to Echo Peak: Because the entire ascent is on a south-facing slope, new fallen snow quickly turns to mush in afternoon sun. Therefore, unless you make your ascent during or immediately after a storm, it is best to plan this tour for a time when the snow is consolidated. There is nothing better than the Sierra's corn-snow! The good news is that the snow consolidates fast due to the southern exposure.

Usually you can ski along the south edge of Echo Lakes when it is unsafe to ski on the lakes themselves. Skiing along the summer trail on the north side of the lakes is slow, more difficult, and no substitute for the open, hard-packed surface of the lakes.

Image of skier along south shore of Lower Echo Lake
Skiing along south shore of Lower Echo Lake

Please stay away from the many privately owned cabins at Echo Lakes. Also, be aware that overnight camping is not permitted in the lakes basin.

Lastly, Echo Peak is on the border of Desolation Wilderness and the tour to the peak goes through the Wilderness. According to the Forest Service you must obtain a permit for day use as well as overnight camping in Desolation Wilderness.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 1.2
Elevation change: +150, -100 feet

Locate the snow-covered road and trailhead (1)opposite the entrance to the Sno-Park and follow the road northwest for 1.2 miles until you reach the southeast end of Lower Echo Lake (2). You can expect a gradual climb followed by a short, steep descent to the lake. Stay left on the obvious main road if you see any road junctions.

Miles: 1.2 - 2.6
Elevation change: Nil

If it is safe, ski northwest across the lower lake for 1.4 miles until your each its northwest end (3).

Miles: 2.6 - 2.7
Elevation change: Nil

Ski west for 0.1 mile until you reach the southeast end of Upper Echo Lake (4).

Miles: 2.7 - 3.3
Elevation change: Nil

Ski northwest across the upper lake for 0.6 mile until you reach its northwest end (5).

Miles: 3.3 - 3.7
Elevation change: +150 feet

Ski west for 0.4 mile until the terrain to the north becomes less steep (6) (there is no landmark).

Miles: 3.7 - 5.1
Elevation change: +1300 feet

Ski in an arc, first north and ending east, for 1.4 miles until you reach the summit of Echo Peak (7).

Image looking north from Echo Peak
Looking north from Echo Peak

Miles: 5.1 - 10.2
Elevation change: +100, -1600 feet

Retrace the route for 5.1 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour