Location: South Shore – Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,289′ – from 6,606′ to 8,895′
Recomended Map: Echo Lake, California
Map of General Route:
Echo Peak is has a lot of terrain to ski, with very few visitors. Probably because it’s a bit low angle for lower 3 rd, and doesn’t offer many trees to protect the powder from sun and wind. Springtime corn is amazing on Echo Peak, but it melts out down low a bit quicker due to the low elevation and low angle. The Echo Peak Bowls grow perfect spring corn snow on both sides of the ascent ridge, and offer an unreal Lake Tahoe view. There are huge cornices up there and only a few entrances emerge. Generally the easiest drop from the summit is near the East Ridge skin track you probably used to get up there. You can see the Crystal Range well and also the south slopes of Dick’s and Jack’s Peak in Desolation Wilderness from the summit. The otherwise hidden northeast bowls of Ralston Peak and Talking Mountain will probably make it to your wish list when you see them from the top as well. This summit is huge, flat and friendly. You will probably have it all to yourself as well.
Echo peak is really a high point on a long ridge that includes Flagpole Peak and Angora Peak. Echo Peak gets you pretty close to the center of Desolation Wilderness, with an easy hike. The easiest and safest way to climb Echo Peak is from a dead end street named Wintoon, off of Lake Tahoe Blvd in South Shore. The homeowners on this street have been friendly towards backcountry access here to my knowledge, probably because it’s rare to find more than a few cars parked here. Please be courteous and quiet for the nice folks that live on this street! There may be other dead end streets that work just the same off of N. Upper Truckee Road.
The beginning of the route is now easy due to a recent fire. Look at the peak from your car, and spot the prominent, tree covered East Ridge. To find your car, you will want to remember some landmarks or use your phone.
Extreme backcountry skiers will wander off towards the north facing Indian Cliff Chutes, but you’ll have to skin all the way back up to Echo Peak. Read about that rad area under the Angora Peak route description.
If the Fallen Leaf Lake Road is plowed, you could leave a car at the end by the fire station and climb the East side of Echo Peak from Wintoon, for a tour over the mountain. If you’ve read through this guide, you know what I generally think of car shuttles however. Too much time wasted driving around, when you could be skiing. I do however recommend ski tours where you experience and learn the most amount of terrain possible. The problem is that now USFS refuses to allow the public to have access to Desolation Wilderness in these cabin tracts. Ask USFS to open the gates at Fallen Leaf Lake Rd and also Spring Creek Rd for skiing Mt. Tallac. Build us a parking lot please! There are just as many backcountry skiers compared to Summer Trail Hikers if you exclude the parking lot dog walkers. Only we have to pirate park and sometimes pay tickets or even vehicle towing! While your at it, ask El Dorado supervisor Sue Novasel and also TRPA to provide parking for backcountry skiers already. I’ve been trying to explain the situation for years, and they do not care from what I see. It’s only LAKE TAHOE, a skier’s paradise!