From Lake of the Woods, you can scan across sapphire waters and beyond up stark, granite slopes to spike-tipped 9,983-foot Pyramid Peak.
It’s only a 2.5-mile walk to reach this spot and a few lakeside campsites (empty on our visit) from the boat-shuttle trailhead at Echo Lake. From the same trailhead, it’s only a 3.9-mile walk to 9,238-foot Ralston Peak. Your view towers over Echo Lakes with Lake Tahoe in the distance on one side, and Aloha Lake, Lake of the Woods and another dozen smaller wilderness lakes on the other.
This is the southern gateway to Desolation Wilderness near South Lake Tahoe. From the small marina at Echo Lakes, you can take a boat taxi to short-cut 2.5 miles off the trip (each way, if you want) and be dropped off at a launch point into paradise.
For day hikes with the boat shuttle, there are 15 lakes within range of a round trip of 10 miles, and half of these lakes are within half that distance.
The story of my adventure this week — and all the details how to do it, including distances to lakes, is posted at sfgate.com/outdoors.
Feel great in the next 24 hours: Hike. Bike. Camp. Fish. Boat. Wildlife watch. Explore.
For the 2012 edition of California Hiking, go to http://220.127.116.11/~tomstien/books/california-hiking/