Tree, Poison Flat, Carson Iceberg Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Yellow Flower
The South side of Lake Aloha in late Fall.
The South side of Lake Aloha in late Fall.


The Trails



Weather Conditions

Weather Notes

Northern High Sierras

Central High Sierras

Southern High Sierras



Gear List

Gear Forum

Gettin Started


Testing yourself and your gear

Gear Reviews


top of page

Lake Aloha

Hiking The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail & The Pacific Crest Trail through Desolation Wilderness





Trail Prep

The art of walking

Physical Preperation


Trail Skills

The trail
Off the trail
Camp skills






Photo Catagories

Trail Stories

Trail Culture

News and Science




Terms and Conditions of Use





top of page

Trail guide section index

Heather to Susie Lakes


Topo Map

Topo map

maps index

miles & elevations Miles & Elevations Index Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Local Weather

All Sierra Weather
forest-wilderness Permits
all pages

Lake Aloha

Hiking the short length of trail South & up from Heather Lake a commanding view of Lake Aloha from its Northern shore abruptly opens before us. A very nice transition.

Dicks Pass to Echo Lake Trailhead
15 minute topographic backpacking MAP
South Desolation Wilderness
30 minute backpacking MAP

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations

A stunning view of expansive granite surrounding the pure blue waters of Lake Aloha, all under the hard spire of Pyramid Peak, come into view as we hike around the last boulder.

It is a sudden transition from hiking up a narrow chute to standing at the head of Desolation Valley's massive expanse of granite running South between Pyramid Peak and Cracked Crag.

This view, and a trail junction leading West to the Mosquito Pass entrance into the South end of Rockbound Valley meet up here with our Southbound route on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, on the far North Shore of Lake Aloha.

Note: This trail guide is traveling North and South through the Desolation Wilderness along the Pacific Crest Trail, the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, and the Tahoe Rim Trail.

We need to hear about your questions, comments and Experiences here!

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit Forum

Rubicon Trail & Mosquito Pass
Trail Junction
on the
North Shore of Lake Aloha

Rubicon Trail Junction, North side of Aloha Lake Rubicon Junction with PCT at North end of Aloha Lake
Northbound PCT, Desolation Wilderness Northbound PCT, Desolation Wilderness

The Pacific Crest Trail across the North and Central sections of Lake Aloha

The great crystal blue expanse of Aloha Lake, one of the Desolation Wilderness great beauties

Lets do The Numbers

Aloha Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness

Aloha Lake Trail Junction

Backpacking South
Susie Lake
North Shore of Aloha Lake

Susie Lake marked the low spot of this short segment of our trail between Dicks Pass to the North and the North shore of Aloha Lake to our South.

It's all downhill from the North shore of Aloha Lake to the Echo Lakes trailhead.

8120' feet
320' rise from Susie Lake.

1.8 miles South of Susie Lake.
21.16 miles South from the Meeks Bay Trailhead.
7.01 miles South to the Echo Lake Trailhead.
9.01 miles South to Echo Summit Trailhead.

6.12 miles North to Camper Flat via Mosquito Pass through Rockbound Valley.

mileage and elevations

Questions, comments, and Experiences?

Views North and South,
at the
half-way point
passing by
Lake Aloha

Time for Sunglasses

This section of the Tahoe to Yosemite trail hiking along the East shore of Lake Aloha is flanked to our West by the crystal blue remnants of Lake Aloha, now retreating during Fall into many crystal-blue pools. It looks like the original crystal blue Sierra lake has been shattered into a thousand blue shards.
Fall had robbed Lake Aloha of its great expanse of water. Late in the season and during dry years Lake Aloha recedes into a series of pools.

Check out the differences between these two USGS maps. The 30 minute map shows Lake Aloha during Fall, the 15 minute map shows Lake Aloha as it appears during Fall.
Behind Lake Aloha Pyramid Peak rises to our West above this massive expanse of shining granite, dominating the scene. On our side of this granite valley, rising to our Right above us, sits the massive shattered hulk of Cracked Crag, elements of who's base we are hiking along.

The shining glare off of Pyramid Peak's great granite slab is intense. The receded Fall water level on Lake Aloha has shrunk it down into lakelets, and each lakelet is sparkling as a powerful lens of reflected sunlight. The intensity of sunlight and beauty will push tears out of our eyes along this segment of the trail.

Sunglasses, sunscreen, and our hat pay their freight for their weight in these conditions. They all come in real handy here.

Caught within this cocoon of reflections off rock and water, all based on and reinforced by the Sun itself, gave me the impression that I was cooking myself up in a solar furnace.

Let's look at the Pictures!

Lake Aloha in Pictures
Jacks Peak and the Trail North to Heather Lake

View of North side Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness

View North at Jacks Peak rising above Lake Aloha, above the channel through the terrain to Heather Lake, while backpacking South along Eastern side of Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness.


Lake Aloha in Pictures

Mosquito Pass across the North side of Aloha Lake.

Mosquito Pass, North Side Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness.

That's the way over into the South end of Rockbound Valley. The route from the trail junction on the North Shore of Lake Aloha to the Camper Flat trail junction in Rockbound Valley is 6.12 miles.

Camper Flat is 1.43 miles West of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail junction near Middle Velma Lake. The Middle Velma Lake trail junction is 8.74 miles North along the Tahoe to Yosemite/Pacific Crest Trail route.

This means that the Rockbound Valley Loop from Mosquito Pass back to Mosquito Pass is 16.29 miles before you figure out how many miles it you are going to hike in and out to the loop...

We can see that the trail over Mosquito Pass into Rockbound Valley, then North up to the Velma Lakes Trail at Camper Flat opens up interesting backpacking loop possibilities around the North-Central Desolation Wilderness.

Dicks Pass to Echo Lakes
15 minute backpacking MAP
South Desolation Wilderness
30 minute backpacking MAP


View Southwest across Lake Aloha

Looking South from middle of Aloha Lake
South Side Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness. The Southbound trail enters the strip of forest at the Right base of the granite dome beyond the far end of Lake Aloha.

Fine Trail and Terrain around Lake Aloha

Hike through granite passages around Lake Aloha.

Trail Feature, winding our way around cool granite protrusions along Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness.


View South out Drainage to Twin Bridges

View South over Lake Aloha.

Pyramid Creek falls down the West flank of the Sierra down to Twin Bridges along Highway 50. In the picture above we are looking that way.

When you drive across the Bridge at Twin Bridges, look North up the mountain flank to see Pyramid Creek flowing down the mountain from Lake Aloha in Desolation Wilderness. This is where it came from.

In the far distance we are seeing the peaks around Kirkwood on Highway 88. I think that's Thunder Mountain on the Right and Thimble Peak on the Left in the far far distant South.

Note how the USGS maps depict Lake Aloha both full with Spring Thaw and withdrawn into a multitude of pools.

Which is correct depends on what time of year you observe Lake Aloha.


North: Heather to Susie Lakes                                                                         South: Trail Junctions S of Aloha

Backpacking Lake Aloha

Departing Desolation Wilderness

The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail follows the Eastern shoreline of Lake Aloha for almost two miles before turning down into the forest line. After sustained miles on a hard surface, entering the forest with its softer trail bed and shade is refreshing.

Consider the impact of hard granite surfaces on knees, feet, and so on. Consider it when picking boots. Consider it when planning daily miles. Consider it when packing the first aid kit.


Hiking Topo Map: Phipps Pass to Susie Lake                           Hiking Topo Map: Lake Aloha

Miles and Elevations

Next page: Aloha Lake 2

South Lake Aloha.

Backpacking past Central and Southern Lake Aloha

South Lake Aloha

Once we reach the North side of Lake Aloha we get clear views down our Southbound route through the wide open expanse of Desolation Valley for the next couple of miles.

We'll be hiking between the Northeast shore of Lake Aloha and the Southwest flank of Cracked Craig.

Dicks Pass to Echo Lakes
15 minute backpacking MAP
South Desolation Wilderness
30 minute backpacking MAP

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations

The open granite terrain and the shattered spattering of Lake Aloha's Fall configuration of lake-lets scattered over the terrain are visible down to the point where the our Southbound trail climbs a low rise to enter the forest, visible in the far distance, for our drop down to Upper Echo Lake.

This segment of trail finishes our hike South along Lake Aloha through Desolation Valley.


Meeks Bay to Echo Summit Forum

Winding through the maze of great granite slabs, boulders, and rocks along the Southern Lake Aloha shore.

The Numbers

South Shore
Aloha Lake
Desolation Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness

Southern Shore of Lake Aloha

Lake of the Woods trail junction

8160' feet.


22.58 miles South from the Meeks Bay Trailhead.

6.13 miles to the Echo Lake Trailhead.
8.13 miles to Echo Summit Trailhead.

note: Mileage sign at Echo Lake trailhead states: Aloha Lake 5 miles. This is incorrect according to my measurements and experience.

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations


South Shore of Lake Aloha

Hiking South along Aloha Lake.

The trail winds through a beautiful granite landscape on the East side of Lake Aloha.

The peak in the distance is one of the mountains on the South side of the Echo Lakes. Either Ralston Peak or Talking Mountain.

The Central and Southern Shores of Lake Aloha

The trail winds through, around, and by some beautiful, strange, and intriguing granite formations as we pass South along the East shore of Lake Aloha.
Trail through rock channel, Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness

Tahoe to Yosemite Trail along great granite formation, Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness.

top of page

Cracked Craig

Cracked Crag.
Shattered surface of Cracked Crag.

Continuing South

As we proceed South through Desolation Valley we can see the granite terrain reach far to the Southwest, further than we can actually see. Beyond our vision Pyramid Creek and the granite terrain create some fine falls where they run together all the way down to Twin Bridges on Highway 50.

But our trail does not go so far. Our trail keeps a Southeast line to enter the forest when we first encounter the forest fringe, bending gently Southeast and downward towards the Echo Lakes.

North: Aloha Lake 1                                                                               South: Trail Junctions S of Aloha

South Side of Lake Aloha

At the South end of Lake Aloha an expansive view to the Southwest opens up, flanked to the North by Pyramid Peak and its massive granite slab. The first trail junction on the South Side of Lake Aloha, the trail to Lake of the Woods, breaks off to our right. The Echo Lake trail head is 6.13 miles straight past this junction.

From here the elevation drop puts us into forest, which means shade and softer trail surfaces,, which will accompany us all the way to Echo Lake trailhead on the trail along the Norh shores of the Echo Lakes.

Passing Echo Lakes the forests deepen approaching and into the Meiss Roadless Area through the Echo Summit trailhead.

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit Forum


Phipps Pass to Susie Lake   Lake Aloha  
Dicks Pass to Echo Lake Trailhead

30 min Map
Phipps Pass to Echo Summit

Miles and Elevations

South Trail Guide
Trail Junctions S of Aloha

top of page

Backpacking Trail Guide


Susie Lakes

Trail guide navigation tools.

Backpacking Trail Guide


Trail Junctions South
Lake Aloha


Backpacker Forum: Lake Aloha

Comments on the Desolation Wilderness?


Add your experiences, comments, or pictures about Lake Aloha, or this whole section of trail below.
Section: Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Segment: Lake Aloha

North: Heather to Susie Lakes                                                                               South: Trail Junctions S of Aloha

Home Page

Contact Alex Wierbinski

top of page

Frosted Backpack

Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to the High Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

Snug tent after Snow Storm
© Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail