Elevation: 7,423 ft
GPS: 38.835, -120.044 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 46,323 total · 245/month
Shared By: Aron Quiter on Sep 2, 2003 with updates from Ben Stone
Admins: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes
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This largely granite area sits just off highway 50 at Echo Pass, the pass you must travel over in order to get into South Lake Tahoe from Sacramento. There are several hundred routes, with lengths from 30 to 300 feet.

Climbing is for the most part traditional, though there are a few mixed and sport climbs, and just like everywhere else in Tahoe if you're really wanting to boulder, there are plenty of good boulders to be found. If you travel a little further away from the lake down to Berkeley Camp, you can also find about 10 sport routes.

Most climbs sit above the Echo Lake entrance to the Desolation Wilderness and Pacific Crest Trail, which makes the parking lot seem quite full often, though most of the people parked are there visiting some of the cabins on the lake, for boating, and also for hiking. As a result, you will find yourself climbing uncrowded domes and peaks above the crowded trails.

Most approaches are under an hour, and most of the approach is on the Pacific Crest Trail, which is even smoothed out with concrete in some sections.

All routes are on National Forest land, so there are no access issues.

There's even a general store at the beginning of the trailhead, so getting beer is easy in case you forgot to bring your own. A view from the parking lot at Lower Echo Lakes. The path you need to take out to the majority of climbing starts on the concrete walkway on the right side of the picture. Most Climbing is behind the large formation in the picture known as Echo Edge.

Getting There

From east or west, head uphill on 50 to 2 miles west of Echo Summit. From the west (Placerville), hang a left on Echo Summit road, and from the east (South Lake Tahoe) hang a right. Follow this narrow paved road about 2 miles to the parking lot before Lower Echo Lake.

Ben Stone adds: "There is a self serve day pass for the Desolation Wilderness trailhead next to the dam. Overnight passes are not available, those must be acquired at the ranger stations (closes one I know of is down near fallen leaf lake). There are boat taxis to the other side of Upper Echo for $15 a person, $5 for gear, and the boat will only go when there is $45 worth going up the lake. The taxi saves you about 3 miles of hiking and going through the channel has been said to be like "going through Disneyland". I worked at Echo Lake Chalet for a couple summers and am a cabin owner on upper echo."

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Classic Climbing Routes at Echo Lakes

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Zac Smith
Sacramento, CA
Zac Smith   Sacramento, CA
Are there any camping areas near the lower Echo lakes? I've camped at Aloha before, but I don't remember if there were any campgrounds earlier on. Oct 9, 2015
Paul Zander
Bern, CH
Paul Zander   Bern, CH
Not really any camping near Lower Echo Lake. There is a restriction in the area which states you must be in Desolation Wilderness to camp (the wilderness boundary is about a 3.5 mile hike along the PCT from the trailhead at the Lower Lake). That being said, its fun to camp out on the ridge above the PCT in the area of 'Echo Edge', just keep a low profile (pm if you want more beta). If you're looking for car camping you got to go elsewhere, but there are plenty of options nearby. Oct 9, 2015