The scenic hike from Echo Lakes to Lake Aloha follows six miles of the dog-friendly 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail, a true paradise for hiking puppers and their human pals. These six miles are also part of the 35-mile section where the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail merge before they split into separate trails to the west and south of Lake Tahoe. This is a strenuous hike with steep ascents up rocky terrain that pays off with incredible views of alpine forests and lakes.
This Tahoe Rim Trail route is unique in that tired humans and canines can opt to take a boat ride for part of it. The Echo Chalet provides a water taxi across the lake from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The taxi ride costs $14 per human and $5 per dog, and shortens the hike by three miles. Even if you and your pup are feeling energetic, it's a fun way to add some variety to your day of hiking.
You'll start your hike at the Echo Lakes Trailhead on Echo Lakes Road just off of Highway 50. The parking lot is the same one used for the chalet and the water taxi, as well as for the grocery store run by the chalet where you can stock up on supplies for your hike. Since this hike passes through the Desolation Wilderness, you'll need to fill out a Desolation Wilderness Permit at the trailhead. The permit is free for day use and costs $5 for overnight use. You'll need to plan ahead if you want to stay overnight, as there is a limit on how many permits are issued for overnight trips between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
If you don't take the water taxi, you'll enjoy a relatively mellow and gradual ascent for the first three miles along the rocky shores of Lower Echo Lake and Upper Echo Lake. It makes sense that the lodging here is a chalet—the sights around you are pure alpine beauty, with pines clinging to mountain slopes and many charming cabins and docks nestled around the lake. Fir and cedar trees fill the air with scents you and your dog will both want to stop to take in. There's a lovely meadow between Echo Lakes and Lake Aloha that's bursting with wildflowers in the warmer seasons.
If you and your pup can only do a one day hike on the Tahoe Rim Trail, consider making it this one. There are so many different ways to have fun together, you and your pup are sure to go home with a smile and a wag when your day is done.