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California, United States

Round Top & Winnemucca Lake, Carson Pass

Pristine alpine lakes, picturesque creeks, abandoned mines and glorious summer wildflower displays.

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 (6 votes, 1 review)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 6.5 miles / 10.5 km
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly
 
Overview: Certainly one of the best hikes in the Lake Tahoe area, the trails to Round Top and Winnemucca Lake promise pristine alpine meadows and lakes, fast-flowing creeks, abandoned mines - and in summer, one of the finest wildflower displays to be found anywhere in Northern California.

There’s something for everybody in this area, which is why our guide also lists enough alternative routes and side-trips to please everybody.

Elevation gain:
• 2,300ft (from 8,200 - 10,381 ft)

Tips:
• Trailhead requires a day-use fee.
• Insect repellent is highly advisable, particularly around Woods Lake.Be sure to pack some insect repellent - the bugs around the lake sure are hungry.
arson Pass Trail (2m ea/way). Out-and-back route from
• If you park at the Carson Pass trailhead you will need a sno-park permit, which is required Nov 1 - May 30.

Alternatives:
• From Round Top Lake, take the 4 mile round trip to the Southern flanks of Round Top and the Fourth Of July Lake.
• Sisters Peak is accessible directly from the ridgeline below the final climb to Round Top, perfect for the determined peak-bagger who wants to add another mountain summit to their list.
• Carson Pass Trail offers an alternative route between Winnemucca Lake and Carson Pass. A sno-park permit is required at the Carson Pass alternate trailhead between Nov 1 and May 30 (see our link to sno-park permit vendors).


Points of Interest

Parking
map

Woods Lake Campground & Trailhead

From the parking lot next to Woods Lake Campground of the CA-88 we take a counter-clockwise route along the hike beginning with the Pack Trail.

Find the trailhead across the bridge, just to the right of the parking lot and proceed along the trail which runs initially parallel to the road.
Viewpoint
map

Lost Cabin Mine

Rusted metal sharply contrast with the pine trees as you arrive at the abandoned Lost Cabin Mine. Corrugated sheet metal cover up mine entrances, and keep an eye open for scattered, rusted old mining equipment.
Junction
map

[JCT] Round Top Lake

The trail meanders through alpine forest, before entering into open countryside heading in the direction of Round Top Lake.

The lake is a popular spot for backpackers camping overnight, at is affords not just a night in the wilderness, but also more time to enjoy the alternative trails, like the 4 mile round trip to the Fourth of July lake on the Southern flanks of Round Top.

From the crossroad junction by the side of the lake, our route takes us straight up to the summit of Round Top.
Mountain
map

Round Top (10,381ft)

From Round Top Lake the trail becomes increasingly barren as the altitude increases, and the trail heads directly upward towards the summit.

Steep but smooth up to the saddle, the terrain moves over jagged rock and becomes harder to locate. Yet with the summit of the mountain in your sights your scramble up the remaining few hundred feet of elevation should see you standing on the summit.

Trailspotting tackled this route one June when snow was still evident on the flanks of the mountain, so it was fun to glissade down the slopes on our waterproof jackets. Stopping at the bottom, however, proved to be a bit of a challenge!
Junction
map

[JCT] Winnemucca Lake

Winnemucca is the largest lake on our travels and certainly one of the most picturesque on the route. Be sure to find some time to stroll along the banks before heading back towards the trailhead in a Northerly direction.

Note that the trail heading North East from this POI leads to the alternative Carson Pass trailhead, and does not return to the Woods Lake Campground and trailhead.
Viewpoint
map

Return trip

Be sure to cast a glance over your shoulder and enjoy the receding views Round Top as you head back towards Woods Lake and the trailhead.
map

[ALT] 2 mile out and back via Carson Pass Trail

Carson Pass Trail offers an alternative route between Winnemucca Lake and Carson Pass. A sno-park permit is required at the Carson Pass alternate trailhead between Nov 1 and May 30 (see our link to sno-park permit vendors).
map

[ALT] Sisters Peak (10,183ft)

Sisters Peak is accessible directly from the ridgeline below the final climb to Round Top, perfect for the determined peak-bagger who want to add another mountain summit to their list.
map

[ALT] Fourth of July Lake

Great as a side-trip for backpackers who have more time to explore the area. Take the 4 mile round trip from Round Top Lake to the Fourth of July Lake on the Southern flanks of Round Top.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2010 including text, images, videos and route detail.
Reviews
philtierney
Today, our third hike here in as many weeks. Wildflowers still great, especially along stream beds. Saw Lewis' Monkeyflower (Mimulus lewisii) for 3rd time in 40 years. Delphinium bloom just incredible but lost on many as they are often buried in lush lupine stands this year. 3 pink lupine on the Roundtop outlet stream!

Have hiked the Winnemucca/Roundtop/Woods loop 20+ times. I saw a lot of families today following your suggested route from campground up to Round Top Lake and back down from Winnemucca. As many times as I have done this, I believe the reverse route is much more friendly, pleasant, etc. The dust, grade, exposure (little shade) and trail(?) condition on the Lost Cabin Mine leg are trying for experienced hikers, never mind folks out for a Sunday stroll. I'd change this recommendation to follow the Woods Lake inlet stream trail up to Lake Winnemucca, over the pass to Roundtop Lake and down to Woods Lake.

Visited on Sep 04, 2011

by philtierney on Sep 04, 2011

Round Top & Winnemucca Lake, Carson Pass Trail Map


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