Echo Summit Trailhead

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 04 February 2010

This is your page to add your insight and information about the Echo Summit Trailhead, and to leave your questions or comments about the trail South along the TYT-PCT from Echo Summit past the Adventure Mountain kid's/family ski area  to the Frog Pond Loop.


The Frog Pond junction sits .9 of a mile South of Echo Summit. It heads past Frog Pond to Echo Summit, then heads West to finish the loop at the Echo Summit trail head. There is a small easy climb up to the Frog Pond trail junction from Echo Summit.

General Situation

Echo Summit's location on Highway 50 above South Lake Tahoe offers an easy access trailhead for long distance Southbound backpacking onto the Southbound Pacific Crest and Tahoe to Yosemite Trails.

Starting our Tahoe to Yosemite Trail hike out of Echo Summit pares 31 miles off of our Tahoe to Yosemite or Tahoe to Whitney trip compared with starting at the Meeks Bay trailhead.
Meeks Bay marks the Northern end of the Desolation Wilderness, who's Southern end sits two miles North of Echo Summit at Echo Lake.

Thus we would use the Southern entrance into Desolation Wilderness through Lower Echo Lake if we were hiking North on the TYT-PCT from Highway 50. Echo Summit is the trailhead for Southbound backpackers.

 Pros and Cons

Though shortening our trip by 31 miles, another advantage of starting at Echo Summit is that we avoid Permit Hassles and the crowds that cause them in Desolation Wilderness.

On the other hand, starting South out of Echo Summit means that we will miss meeting many-many cool backpackers and the splendid beauties of the Desolation Wilderness.

Just the Facts

 Backpacking Mileages
From Echo Summit it is 12 miles to the Carson Pass, 34 miles to Ebbetts Pass, 75 miles to the Sonora Pass, and 150 miles to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. 

Local short backpacking and hiking trips

Besides being a portal for long distance backpackers South on the TYT, PCT, and TRT, Echo Summit offers moderate-difficulty access seven miles South to Showers Lake in the Meiss Roadless Area, which covers much of the Southwestern portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin of the  Lake Tahoe Basin Administrative Unit.

The Meiss Country Roadless Area 
The Meiss Roadless Area covers our route through the Southwestern section of the Lake Tahoe Basin and its Administrative Unit.

The Meiss Roadless Area is a fine local backpacking area wedged into the Southwest corner of the Tahoe Basin roughly bounded by between Highway 50 to the North, Highway 89 to the East, and Highway 88 to the South.

This area is an excellent place to go for a quick & quiet getaway. Numerous excellent hikes can be executed between the Meyers, Echo Summit, Big Meadow and Carson Pass trailheads.

Using the short segment of the Pony Express Trail tracking East down the Hawley Grade to the South Upper Truckee Trailhead at the top of Christmas Valley allows us to "close the loop" between the trail South out of Echo Summit and the South Upper Truckee Trailhed.
This means we can hike loops around the otherwise "loopless" crecent shaped segments of trail that cross the Meiss Country.

Echo Summit Trailhead Sign

Do it: Do it Now!

I strongly suggest you explore the Meiss Roadless Area as a great little backpacking area on its own, and not just as a section you fly through on the long distance trail.

Because of the combination of moderate mileages, moderate climbs, and moderate altitudes, the Meiss Roadless Area is a good place to get your backpacking gear and skills lined up for longer trips along the High Sierra Crest.

But don't think it is easy! Meiss Country is intermediate level hiking with altitude, climbs, and distances that will get your attention. You should have previous experience getting all your basic skills, gear use, and fitness together in an easy backpacking location before hitting the Sierras.

If you are just getting back into backpacking, this "roadless area" offers an excellent range of terrains to check out your gear and physical conditioning.


Yet more information

Echo Summit Trailhead trail guide page

Echo Summit to Carson Pass 15 min map



Have you done any good backpacking trips from or through the Echo Summit Trailhead? Post them here, or as a trail note on the Echo Summit to Carson Pass Forum.


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