Tamarack Lake


Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 8.4 miles round trip
7350 feet
+650, -650 feet
Navigation Road, map and compass
Time Most of a day
Season Mid-December through mid-April (it may not be safe to ski on the lakes early and late in the season)
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Echo Lake
Start Echo Lake Sno-Park. From 1.2 miles west of the Echo Summit Maintenance Station on Highway 50, drive 0.6 mile east on Johnson Pass Road toward Berkeley Camp to the Sno-Park. The actual trailhead is the snow-covered road opposite the entrance to the Sno-Park.


After two miles of easy skiing across stark Echo Lakes you may want to venture beyond to explore and enjoy some of the nearby slopes and have the opportunity to look back and down on the lakes. Trekking on to Tamarack Lake is a great way to add a destination to your exploration.

Tamarack Lake is nestled in a little basin of its own and up against slopes much steeper than the ones you ascend to reach it. These slopes to the south and west of the lake guarantee that the lake will be shrouded in shade the entire winter; don't journey here thinking that you are going to spend a sunny afternoon lunchtime.

From Tamarack Lake it is only a short ski south to Ralston Lake and Cagwin Lake if you have more energy to burn. Tamarack Lake is also just off the longer route to Desolation Valley.

Usually you can ski along the south edge of Echo Lakes when it is unsafe to ski on the lakes themselves. Skiing along the summer trail on the north side of the lakes is slow, more difficult, and no substitute for the open, hard-packed surface of the lakes.

Please stay away from the many privately owned cabins at Echo Lakes. Also, be aware that overnight camping is not permitted in the lakes basin.

Lastly, according to the Forest Service you must obtain a permit for day use as well as overnight camping in Desolation Wilderness. Desolation Wilderness begins approximately one-half mile west of Upper Echo Lake, which puts Tamarack Lake just inside the Wilderness.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 1.2
Elevation change: +150, -100 feet

Locate the snow-covered road and trailhead (1)opposite the entrance to the Sno-Park and follow the road northwest for 1.2 miles until you reach the southeast end of Lower Echo Lake (2). You can expect a gradual climb followed by a short, steep descent to the lake. Stay left on the obvious main road if you see any road junctions.

Miles: 1.2 - 2.6
Elevation change: Nil

If it is safe, ski northwest across the lower lake for 1.4 miles until your each its northwest end (3).

Miles: 2.6 - 2.7
Elevation change: Nil

Ski west for 0.1 mile until you reach the southeast end of Upper Echo Lake (4).

Miles: 2.7 - 3.3
Elevation change: Nil

Ski northwest across the upper lake for 0.6 mile until you reach its northwest end (5).

Miles: 3.3 - 4.2
Elevation change: +400 feet

Ski west, at first climbing gradually and as you near the lake more steeply, for a total of 0.9 mile until you reach Tamarack Lake (6).

Miles: 4.2 - 8.4
Elevation change: +100, -550 feet

Retrace the route for 4.2 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
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