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Winnemucca Lake HikeCarson Pass to Winnemucca Lake

Distance: 4.2 miles out and back
Difficulty: Moderate
Fees and Permits: $3 parking feee
Map: Lake Tahoe Basin Adventure Map

This is a great half-day out-and-back that takes you through beautiful alpine meadows and lakes surrounded by 10,000 foot peaks. It has all the scenery of a remote High Sierra valley, without the lung-busting elevation gain. While not technically in the Tahoe basin this is included here for its sheer beauty and bang-for-the-buck factor of a trailhead elevation of 8,500 feet. The trailhead leaves from the main parking area off of Highway 88 at the top of Carson Pass about 20 minutes south of the town of Meyers. This is a well used and popular trailhead with bathrooms and historical signs.

This hike begins on a section of the PCT that leaves the parking area right behind the Carson Pass information station. The trail undulates through deep forest until you reach the sign indicating the boundary of the Mokelumne Wilderness area, where the trail has a short but steep climb. A small distance after the wilderness boundary you will pass a short spur trail that goes to Frog Lake. Take the short detour if you'd like, but Lake Winnemucca is the goal of this hike. Once you pass the trail to Frog Lake you will reach the a fork where the PCT splits off and continues southeast; you will want to continue straight. Past this point the terrain becomes increasingly open, with great views and spectacular wildflowers if you come at the right time of the year. After about two miles you will come to the shores of Lake Winnemucca at 9,000 feet. The lake sits at the base of 10,380-foot Round Top with the twin peaks of The Sisters off to the west. Lakes as beautiful as Winnemucca are typically much more difficult to access, so enjoy some time at the lake and maybe a swim, then retrace your route back to the Carson Pass parking area. Adventurous souls can extend the hike west to Round Top Lake or up to the summit of Round Top itself to add more difficulty.

TMS Recommends Packing: Sol Sunguard sunscreen to ward off high-altitude rays

(photo by Jeff Moser/BikeCarson.com)


TMS Pro Pick: Black Diamond Headlamps

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