Description: To save some time, you might consider the water taxi
service offered during high summer. For a few bucks, you can cut off
about 2.5 miles each direction. Just ask at the dock. If you are hoofing
it, the trail starts just right of the dock. It first heads along the
north shore of Echo Lake through pine and fir forest, passing tiny summer
cabins. While there is nothing spectacular about this part of the hike,
it is certainly pleasant enough and mostly flat.
trail eventually passes the end of Upper Echo Lake and begins to climb
out of the Echo Lakes basin toward Haypress Meadows. To the left is
Ralston Peak, a fun
ski descent in the winter, and a beautiful example of an alpine mountain
all year long. After leaving Echo Lake the trail gains about 400' over
the next 3/4 mile where the trail splits. To the left, the trail takes
you to the Ralston cirque and Tamarack and Ralston Lakes. Both of these
lakes offer pristine scenery, relative solitude, good camping sites,
and quick access a Ralson Peak ascent. Continuing west/northwest, you
will come to Haypress Meadows. The trail climbs steadily through a sparsely
forested area. At Haypress Meadows, you have climbed about 1000' above
Echo Lake and come roughly 2 miles from the lake. The trail splits again
here. Heading west/southwext takes you to Lake of the Woods while continuing
west/northwest heads back to Lake Aloha. Lake
of the Woods is one of our favorite lakes in this part of Desolation.
It sits in a basin close to a prominence that overlooks Horsetail Canyon.
Rocks and trees combine to create the perfect environment for peaceful
relaxation. To the west, Pyramid
Peak and the other peaks of the Crystal Range dominate the landscape.
The area between Lake of the Woods and the cliffs of Pyramid Peak is
made up of a series of undulations with the depressions filled with
water making small ponds. Watch out for bugs in July!
Concerns: These lakes get a lot of summer use. Please dispose
of waste at least 100 yards from any water being sure to bury it at
least 6 inches deep. No campfires are allowed in desolation wilderness
due to the fragile nature of the environment. Giardia is a common water
parasite that is present in all Sierra lakes and streams so be sure
to filter, treat or boil water.
Watch for rapidly changing weather in this part of the Sierras. Be prepared
and follow good winter backcountry travel techniques including avalanche
safety if you head on to steeper terrain.
is farther than it looks. If you are thinking of attempting an ascent
plan ahead and visit our Pyramid
Peak page to find out more.