Tamarack, Ralston, and Cagwin Lakes

South Lake Tahoe, California 96150

Tamarack, Ralston, and Cagwin Lakes

Tamarack, Ralston, and Cagwin Lakes Professional Review and Guide

"This hike leads to three distinctly different lakes in the scenic Desolation Wilderness. Tamarack Lake is a deep lake with a beautiful tree-covered island. Ralston Lake sits in a bowl with the steep walls of Ralston Peak rising more than 1,400 feet from its shore. Cagwin Lake is a small, quiet lake surrounded by forest. A boat shuttle takes you from Lower Echo Lake to the west end of Upper Echo Lake to begin the hike."

Tamarack, Ralston, and Cagwin Lakes Reviews

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For a more challenging, yet rewarding hike, take the Ralston Peak trail that begins off highway 50 near Camp Sacramento. It is an eight mile moderate to strenuous round trip to the summit of Ralston Peak ( 9,235 foot elevation). It is a well-defined trail... the first two and a half miles is switchbacks through the forest, then a half mile through a beautiful meadow with Pyramid Peak and the Cascade Range to the west. Another half mile puts you on a ridge with incredible views of Ralston, Tamarack, Lake-in-the-Woods, Aloha and even Lake Tahoe in the distance.Descend down to these lakes or turn right of the trail, looking for cairns - pyramids of rock used as trail markers - and head the last half to three quarters of a mile along a ridgeline to the top of Ralston Peak. You won't regret it - the 360 degree views are amazing, especially on crystal clear days! Be careful the last 100 yards because you trek over loose broken granite talus. Views of the Echo Lakes, Mount Tallac, the Carson Range, Lake Tahoe and Mount Rose to the far Northeast are spectacular!

Tamarack, Ralston, and Cagwin Lakes Photos

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Trail Information

South Lake Tahoe
Nearby City
450 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
5 hours
Spring through Fall
USGS Echo Lake; South Lake Tahoe Basin Recreation Map
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018