Tahoe Rim Trail – Barker Pass to Echo Lake – We did it!

Duke and I just finished the section of the Tahoe Rim Trail from Barker Pass to Echo Lake. We did it as a four day backpacking trip. Several of our friends from the Sierra Canyon Hiking Group did it in two days of hiking. The hike is a total of 32.5 miles. Four days was hard. I can't imagine doing it in two.

Day 1 – Barker Pass to Richardson Lake

We started the hike last Friday.  We picked up our Desolation Wilderness camping permits in Tahoe City then drove two vehicles to Echo Lake which is just off of highway 50 at the south end of Lake Tahoe. We left the truck parked at Echo Lake and drove the car north to our starting point at Barker Pass. What with stopping for lunch and all the driving back and forth we didn't get on the trail until about 2. Our first night was at Richardson Lake which is just north of the start of the Desolation Wilderness.By the time we got there it was around 7 and we didn't have a lot of time to get our camp set up. Duke does all the cooking when we camp. The red beans and rice were really good.

This is a picture of our camp site at Richardson Lake.


Richardson Lake


Day 2 – Richardson Lake to Fontanallis Lake 

Our first day of hiking was only about 7 miles so we needed to do more on day 2 if we wanted to average 8 miles a day. We ended up camping at Fontanallis Lake which was one of the prettiest lakes we saw. It was overcast and cool most of the day, perfect weather for hiking. The evening and first part of the night were very windy. The tent even blew away and we had to catch it before we could stake it down.

The battery on  my small camera died  on Saturday (day 2) and I discovered that my back-up battery wasn't charged so these are my last pictures from the trip.

This picture is of Fontanallis Lake.


This picture is of our camp site at Fontanallis Lake.


Day 3 – Fontanallis Lake to Aloha Lake

This was by far the hardest day of the hike. We climbed over 1000 feet up to Dick's Pass. From the top which is at 9,380 feet we hiked down 1,700 feet and then back up about 500 feet to Lake Aloha. It sounds like a very welcoming lake doesn't it? Wrong! In my opinion this is the moist inappropriately named lake ever. It should be named Desolation Lake, or Moon Scape Lake, or even Granite Lake. There are very few trees and we had to walk aver a mile along the shore of the lake to find an OK camp site. Lake Aloha is part of the Sacramento water system and the water level was way down. I think where we camped is usually under water. The vast amount of granite and very few trees did make for one of the most memorable experiences of the trip. As it got dark we lay on a big slab of granite and watched the millions of stars and the milky way come out. We even saw a meteor!

Day 4 – Lake Aloha to Echo Lake

The hike out on Monday was relatively easy. During the summer there is a water taxi on Echo Lake which allows you to avoid the last 2.5 miles of the hike. It was closed for the season so we got to admire all the cabins along the shore of Echo Lake as we hiked out. The Desolation Wilderness ends about 3 miles before the end of the hike. Soon after we started hiking Monday morning a ranger checked our wilderness permit. We also had a ranger check the permit while we were camped at Fontanillis Lake. I wonder what happens if you don't have a permit.


Backpacking is hard work. The scenery was wonderful and the weather was great, but I must admit I am glad to be done.

We have now hiked the whole Tahoe Rim Trail all 165 miles of it! We did it in 10 hikes: