Echo Summit PCT, Tahoe Rim, Tahoe Yosemite Trail Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Yellow Flower
Tahoe sunset South of Echo Summit.
Echo Summit
Lake Tahoe's Southeastern Shore during late morning from the Southwestern Tahoe Rim South of Echo Summit
Sonora Pass


High Sierra

Trail Guide


High Sierra





Trail Guide

Guide Index

Maps Index






All Blog

Trails Forum

Topics Forum




High Sierra Weather


Sierra Weather

Sierra Weather

Sierra Weather




Gear List

Gettin Started



Testing yourself and gear

Favorite Gear

Gear Reviews



top of page


from Echo Summit towards Carson Pass

Hiking to Showers Lake across Meiss Country Roadless Area






Trail Skills

The trail


Camp skills

Paper Maps

Off the trail





Safety Topics


Mosquito Info

Skeeter News









40 Days to Whitney

Introduction Tahoe to Whitney

Introduction Tahoe-Yosemite



Trail Arts

Art of walking











Trail Stories






Trail Culture




Terms and Conditions of Use



top of page


Trail Guide



Tahoe Rim, Frog Lake
Trail Map




Wilderness PERMITS

Local Weather

All Sierra Weather


across the
Southwestern Edge of the Lake Tahoe Basin

Hiking South out of Echo Summit

Departing Echo Summit Southbound we are beginning to trace out the South-Westernmost perimeter of the Tahoe Basin on a grand arc gradually bending to our Southeast.

This arc terminates 10.61 miles South of our current position at Echo Summit Trailhead at the point where we exit the Lake Tahoe Basin through the Carson Gap. We will also be exiting the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit with the same step.

Check out the topo map;
Backpacking Map South
Meiss Country Roadless Area

Click the red dots on the map to see the trail guide entries for each location. Add your updates and perspective through the comments links for each segment of the trail.


Terrain Physical Character
The next 6.8 miles South from Echo Summit to Showers Lake are a roller coaster ride of rising and falling trails through deep forest and sheer granite formations rising out of dense forests wrapping around the Southwest corner of the Tahoe Basin.

Well, our trail South to Showers Lake can be generally characterized as being composed of one great climb up to near the top of Peak 8905, followed by a moderate descent from there down to Showers Lake.

Up and Down
But..., our climbing segments of trail also contain many little descents, as our descending sections of trail are broken up by many little climbs, as is almost always true.

The roller coaster nature of the trail was cut into the terrain by the last Ice Age, and it has been magnified by subsequent erosion, foresting, and design. Trails are designed to minimize terrain movement, which can cause lots of extra backpacker movements.

This is a solid Intermediate 1 Trail for the next 2.89 miles South from Echo Summit Trailhead up to its highest point crossing Peak 8905. This segment of our trail climbs 1383 feet up to 8760 feet crossing Peak 8905 over the next 2.89 miles.

I figure that a little more than half, maybe 1.48 of the next 2.89 miles South from Echo Summit Trailhead rate as the more difficult level of Hard 3 Trail.

Once we get over the shoulder of Peak 8905 the trail difficulty drops to Easy 1 as we begin descending the next 3.91 miles passing straight through three trail junctions on our way South to Showers Lake.

We'll pass by two Sayles Canyon trail junctions dropping down to Highway 50 and the Schneiders Camp Trail leading to Highway 88 before arriving at Showers Lake.

All three trails break off to the Southbound Backpacker's Right, West by the compass. All three bring us to trailheads outside the Tahoe Basin, the Norther Sayles Canyon junctions leading down to Sacramento Camp on Highway 50 while Schneiders Camp is on Highway 88 West of Carson Pass North of Caples Lake.

The map below shows us these 3 trails are each suitable for planning interesting "U" trips into Meiss Country from Echo Summit Trailhead ending or beginning through these two trailheads along Highways 50 and 88.

Even better is that we can hike little segments of the Tahoe Rim hiking South out of Echo Summit or North out of Carson Pass using these side trails to finish short backpacking trip routes across bits of the Meiss Country Roadless Area.

Meiss Country Roadless Area Backpacking Map  
  Echo Summit to Carson Pass
Backpacking Miles and Elevations


Echo Summit Forum


Echo Summit
Comments Questions Insights

Backpacking Trail Sign Post South of Echo Summit



Views of Christmas Valley
and the
Meiss Country Roadless Area
from just

of Echo Summit Trailhead
to just
North of Sayles Canyon trail junction.

Exploring the Rock and Forest South of Echo Summit.

The Southwestern Tahoe Rim is composed of Beautiful Rock Formations along an amazing volcanic interface clad in deep forest lower down, meadows and mountains above.

Video Playlist
Echo Summit to Carson Gap

Echo Summit Forum
Comments Questions Information


top of page

North: Echo Summit                                                                                        South: Tahoe Rim, Frog Pond


Three Trails South of Echo Summit

Echo Summit Southbound

Terrain Physical Character II
Backpacking South of Echo Summit has us hiking on three trails at once. Heading South on the Pacific Crest, Tahoe to Yosemite, and Tahoe Rim Trails from Echo Summit all bring us bending around the Western perimeter of the sledding resort and its massive parking lot.

The trail is plain to see yet completely over-posted. Passing South of the parking lot we observe the trail turns South to begin a gentle traverse up into dense forest.


Local Context
South from Magic Mountain

A brief climb over an easy hump consisting of the base of a descending ridge-arm through forest along the ridge-side gives us a quick view over the treetops of the Meiss Country Roadless Area from our momentarily "elevated" position.

Specifically, we get a quick glimpse into Christmas Valley opening up below us to our East.

Our route South will be along the edge of the Tahoe Rim marking the Western perimeter of Christmas Valley below.
Once we get past Peak 8905 we will be hiking on what amounts to a "shelf," a narrow flattish apron below the Sierra Crest and along the top of Christmas Valley that expresses itself most forcefully as the great flat named Meiss Meadow.

We will follow the Western rim of the Tahoe Basin just below the Sierra Crestline South around the top of the Western edge of Christmas Valley to Meiss Meadow. Meiss Meadow is essentially a great meadow at top of Christmas Valley collecting the runoff from the Tahoe Rim Mountains surrounding the Southernmost end of the Tahoe Basin.

A whole lot of sediment has flowed and is flowing across that meadow off the surrounding mountains, down into Lake Tahoe, with much ending up in Pyramid Lake, East of Reno.

Long Processes
We can see these meadows and Meiss Meadow strung out under the High Sierra Crestline as the end-products of a long process of erosion building great meadows of eroded materials forming-up and flattening-out under the diminishing peaks feeding them.
Meadows rise as peaks fall.

As we hike our first steps South across the fairly steep segment of trail up Peak 8905 on our way Showers Lake we quickly become aware that our long views of Lake Tahoe and Christmas Valley are going to be masked by dense forest, steep rock, and even by the line of our route.

This requires us to stop to enjoy and soak-in the long views where we can find them, and focus more on enjoying our close-up study of the terrain than broad overviews, as we proceed South.

One Meadow-Two Mountain Ranges
Junction of the Carson and Sierra Mountain Ranges
Interestingly, Meiss Meadow is encompassed by two mountain ranges. The Southern end of the Carson Range terminates at Red Lake Peak, which is the Southwestern corner of the Carson Range wrapping around the East-Southeast corner of Meiss Meadow.
The Sierra Nevada Range bounds the South and Southwestern wings of Meiss Meadow. Our exit point from the Tahoe Basin through the Carson Gap marks the point where these two great mountain ranges intersect, the Carson Range ends, and the Sierra Crest continues South.

Hiking South out of the Tahoe Basin through the Carson Gap we are passing out of the East Sierra drainage of the Tahoe Basin onto the West Flank of the Sierra at the top of one arm of the vast and complex watershed of the North Fork of the Mokelumne River.
We will be seeing more of the North Mokelumne in the next section to our South if we are hiking the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail South from the Carson Gap.

West Flank
Silver Fork of the American River
To the Southwest of the Carson Gap we can see the Sierra ridge splitting the North Mokelumne drainage on it far side from that of the Silver Fork of the American River that drains the West Flank of the Sierra around Carson Pass.

East Flank
West Walker River
The West Walker River drains the East Flank of the Sierra South of the Carson Gap.


South Upper Truckee River
Meiss Meadow is the main collection point of this river draining the South end of the Tahoe Basin, The South Upper Truckee River. Two of our other trailhead/trailhead option accessing Meiss Meadow, the South Upper Truckee and Big Meadow Trailheads, both follow the Eastern branch of the South Upper Truckee up to Meiss Meadow via Round Lake.


Backpacking Map South
Meiss Country Roadless Area


Below us in Christmas Valley we can see where the trail out of the South Upper Truckee Road Trailhead tracks up Christmas Valley under dense forest past Round Lake to Meiss Cabin in Meiss Meadow. That's where the route up from Meyers intersects with our PCT-TYT-TRT trail South out of Echo Summit Trailhead. In that image we can make out the arm of forest reaching across Big Meadow down into the line of this Eastern tributary of the South Upper Truckee.

Meiss Meadow
Counter-clockwise Tahoe Rim Trail hikers will turn Northeast, Left, at the Meiss Cabin trail junction to hike the trail down to Round Lake, to cut across the North edge of Big Meadow on their way to Freel Peak, the highest peak in or around the Tahoe Basin, situated on the South end of the Carson Range.

TRT hikers turn Northeast at the Big Meadow trail junction to continue tracing out the Tahoe Rim hiking North along the Carson Range above the East shore of Lake Tahoe, while we Southbound hikers continue South to exit the Tahoe Basin itself.


From this overview-point behind Magic Mountain we have but a short hike South to a small meadow-marsh that is filling in with lodgepoles. This is where the Frog Pond Loop breaks off from the Pacific Crest Trail.

top of page

Well posted
(or well over-posted)
Southbound trail
out of
Echo Summit

Departing Echo Summit South on the Pacific Crest Trail   Full trail post, PCT/Tahoe-Yosemite sign post
Looking back, Northeastward, while departing Echo Summit Trailhead hiking South.  

Just as too many cooks ruin the soup, too many trail post and/or ducks detract from the route.

If you are not a trail worker or a ranger it is better for everyone if you don't add ducks or blazes along your route.

  Trail Post at far South end of the Adventure Mountain Sledding Resort.
West Side of Adventure Mountain
First Sign South of Echo Summit   Passing South of Adventure Mountain and the end of pavement until we arrive at Highway 88..
Adventure Mountain Lodge
View of Sledding Resort from Trail Post.
Close up of trail post.
The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail is rarely marked.

Tahoe Rim Trail

Tahoe Rim Trail Emblem

Tahoe Rim Trail Emblems proliferate.

top of page

Though the trail bed is deeply cut into the soil and easy to follow, there are many trail posts and trail emblems leading us from Echo Summit Trailhead to the junction with the Frog Lake trail loop.
South end of Adventure Mountain trail sign post   South end of Adventure Mountain trail sign post, full view
The Next Post, Southbound. Close up.
Old Bear Itching Post: Broken Trail Sign
Sometimes the bears just rip up the sign posts, other times they destroy them using them as itching sticks. Over posting problem solved!

Bear Note

It appears to me that there is such a thing as "cranky bears."

Most times the bears are breaking trail posts by using them as itching sticks. But there are other times it appears that the bears are intentionally taking them down.

In some areas the local bears decide that they don't like anything human in their territory. They then proceed to constantly rip up every trail post the trail crews put up.

The Carson-Iceberg Wilderness experienced this in and along the East Carson River, including the Golden and Murray trail junctions on the Pacific Crest Trail for years.

The bears even targeted the Soda Springs Ranger Station until they put up a solar-powered electric fence around it.

They would put up a post, and the bears would quickly take it down. Seriously!!

In recent years the Carson-Iceberg has switched to STEEL posts that have the destinations cut into them.

Problem Solved!

Bear Culture and Technology

Cranky Bears?

Steele Bear Proof Sign Post
Above: Steel trail post in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. Is this the future of trail posts?
top of page

North: Echo Summit                                                                                              South: Tahoe Rim, Frog Pond

A Very Easy Day: Echo Summit to Showers Lake

Hiking Plan

Departing Echo Summit Southbound makes Showers Lake our next destination. After Randy hit me up with a bunch of killer calories, I now had some screwing off time.

Extra food had opened up my schedule a bit.

So I hung out with Randy at the Echo Summit trailhead for a couple of hours, and subsequently decided to maintain the theme of an easy day that I had established with Randy.

Therefore we would spend the rest of the day getting to, or hanging out, at Showers Lake, located just 6.8 miles to the South. This would put today's total miles at 7.8 miles during a half-day of backpacking. No big deal!

These extra calories would work out well as we continue South down the trail, giving a bit of slack we can enjoy time with the fine people and perspectives we run into on the trail.

We've got the food to cover some tarrying.

7.5 min
Topo Hiking Map

Echo Summit
Carson Pass
30 min
Topo Hiking Map

Echo Summit
Carson Gap

Miles and Elevations

Video Playlist
Echo Summit to Carson Gap

Next page
Tahoe Rim, Frog Lake

top of page

Backpacking Trail Guide


Echo Summit

North and South on the High Sierra Trail Guide.

Backpacking Trail Guide


Tahoe Rim, Frog Pond

Backpacker Forums

Got something to say? Say it here:

Post it on
The Backpacker's Forum.

Also see the Tahoe to Whitney trail Section and Backpacking Topics Forums.

High Sierra Backpacking
High Sierra Backpacking

Below you can add your experiences, comments, questions or pictures and videos about hiking South out of the Echo Summit Trail Head, or general comments about the Echo Summit to Carson Pass section of the trail forums:

Echo Summit to Carson Pass
Echo Summit Trailhead

North: Echo Summit                                                                                              South: Tahoe Rim, Frog Pond

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