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16 days ago

Completely echo everything Lisa mentions below. Very slick at points on the way down and have to hike through thick brush. Fun hike but took longer than expected because the trail was fairly unmarked and unmaintained.

very decent, not so steep hike. awesome forest. took us 4 hours

Now that Tahoe finally has snow, decided to check this trail out and what a view! For the fairly tame profile and duration, this trail has some incredible view starting with the now frozen / snowed over Winnemucca lake (this route is direct to the mountain, 4th of july as an optional detour on the return though we made it on the way out) and then of Round Top and the Sisters at the end. Lots of great powder currently making for a fun day even on snowshoes (but they are a must) and certainly a great one on skis. The view from the saddle below the summit is incredible with Pyramid Peak, Freel, and the south Sierras all visible. We didn't push up for the true summit but the rocks of the upper mountain look like a fun reason to return.

9.6 mike loop. Awesome trail.

Great hike. Just be prepared that parts of the trail aren’t clearly marked, so using GPS can be very helpful.

Beyond rad scenery

This hike is great! The views are awesome!
I prefer this hike late or early season to avoid the crowds.
October and Nov. are pretty nice if you are geared for cold.
We also snow shoe in this area and do the Winnemucca Lake Loop a lot. Suggested: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/california/winnemucca-lake-loop
Great day snow shoe!

I enjoyed this hike. I kept track of distance on my Fitbit and it said it was 10.6 miles. For the most part it’s a easy walk. Be prepared for the switch backs. Parts of the trail are a little confusing, but great scenery!

After visiting the lakes in the area many times I finally got a chance to actually climb Round Top itself last week. I know all the trails in this area get crazy busy but it’s for good reason...probably one of the most spectacular areas in the entire Sierra.

I approached Round Top via Carson Pass, this time of year it was pretty empty on a Tuesday. The hike to Winnemuca Lake is very gradual, and it’s a beaut. After Winnemuca stay right toward Round Top lake if looking to summit. There seemed like multiple vague trails heading up toward the saddle so I just picked the path of least resistance (all these trails seem to link up further up anyway).

From the saddle the trail heads up steeply and after some scrambling you’ll find yourself atop the West Ridge. This isn’t the true summit but if exposure and heights aren’t your thing this would be an excellent stopping point. The actual summit is further East, and requires some exposed downclimbing and a small class 3 section at the end...but boy are the views worth it. The wind was howling so I didn’t stay up top very long but you can bet I’ll be back.

Beautiful, beautiful area. Just be prepared to share.

amazing and awesome views.

Started at Carson Pass Visitor Center and got a permit, hiked past Frog Lake and Lake Winnemucca and on up to Round Top Lake. We had planned to camp there (site 6) but it was so windy and cold that we backtracked down and stayed the night at Winnemucca. Still windy but a little less exposure than Round Top. Such a beautiful hike with breathtaking views of the Two Sisters Mountains and Round Top. Would backpack here again in a heartbeat. The elevation itself is challenging but the trail wasn't strenuous and it was well marked.

One of the best hikes I did near Tahoe area. If you are doing the loop just as AllTrails, make sure you plan early. This one can be a long hike with so many scenic points that one day feels to be on a tight schedule. I did the loop starting from Bayview trail and ending at Eagle creek trailhead.
If you are climbing from Eagle falls side, be aware that its somewhat steep compared to Granite Lake side. Rest assured, the views at Dicks Lake and Fontanillis Lake make up very much for the effort. Would like to plan a backpacking trip next year just before snow completely melts away. Definitely one of the top hikes near South Lake Tahoe.

great alpine views and swimming

6 months ago

Did this last week as a solo overnighter, I included a summit of Dicks Peak on the second day. Trail starts out steep all the way to Granite Lake, then levels off for a minute before climbing again steeply toward Maggie's Peak. It's a beautiful area but in the summer this section of the trail can be an absolute zoo! Once above the switchbacks the people traffic dropped off sharply and it seemed a pretty quick trek down and over to the Velma Lakes. I didn't see a trail heading to lower Velma but if you have a map and even an average sense of direction it's an easy find.

After checking out lower Velma I continued on to Middle Velma and then up to Fontanillis Lake for the night to camp. There didn't seem to be much in the way of open space around the lake but I probed around a bit on the west side and found a beautiful spot to set up. A breathtaking view and good fishing to boot! Even in August there wasn't a single other person around that I saw.

After waking early I continued onto the intersection with the PCT. This is where my hike detoured a bit as I wanted to bag Dicks Peak while I was out there. After stashing my pack I headed up and over Dicks Pass. Even if you aren't heading up the mountain, a trip over the pass itself is amazing: endless views in all directions! Dicks Peak via Dicks Pass is certainly not for the casual hiker; requiring some steep hard class III scrambling over very loose rock. I would absolutely not recommend trying to take a dog up here.

After a difficult false summit I made the top and the views were the best I've seen from any Peak in Desolation. You're smack dab in the middle of everything so everything from Round Top to Pyramid Peak to Freel and beyond is on show here. Spectacular and worth the extra effort!

The way back was a bit of a blur as I hadn't gotten too much sleep the night before, but I was back at my truck by 6pm.

The Eagle Lake and Bayview trailheads are probably my least favorite to access the Desolation Wilderness, but that's solely because of the very high amount of traffic they get. However, as with all things Desolation, once you get a few miles in you're very much on your own.

My Garmin shows we did 21.3 miles on this loop. We also decided to do this loop C'Clock wise and started from the Parking lot of Big Meadows Trail head.
Our Goal was to make Showers Lake for day 1. That's fine but it was 12.4 miles mostly up hill.( 2425' elev. gain in 9.6 miles) Add an extra hour to your plans if you do this with heavy night packs.
From Big Meadow parking lot we walked down Upper Truckee Rd and caught the Hawley Grade Trail. The trail was up hill but not bad at all! We hit hwy 50 and a short trek to the Adventure Mountain parking area got us back on trail. Note, the trail starts just before the gate.
Day 1 was hard but finished up with very easy 8 remaining miles on day 2. Mostly flat and down hill after Showers lake.
Awesome views all the way.

It was 100* plus degrees in Sacramento. So we decided to head up the hill towards Tahoe. We found this trail and truly enjoyed it. Rivers, meadows, beautiful tress with very interesting bark. Mostly shade. We decided to do the loop. 9.3 miles with some very steep switch backs more then half way through. We were exhausted. It took us 4 1/2 hours. We are in pretty good shape but new to hiking.
I think when we do it with friends we'd go out and back. Not do that loop. It climbs to 1700 ft elevation
But this hikes tops our list of favorites

There were lots oh hikers in this trail, it was still fun but I wasn't expecting the crowds encountered.
Make the effort to summit round top, it can get crowded but the 360 views make it worth while.

Amazing. The wildflowers are blooming everywhere on the way to Lake Winnemucca. Continued onto Round Top Lake and the trail took you over some areas of snow. Round Top was beautiful with waterfalls abound. I am glad I went the extra distant to Round Top.

Amazing trail, very beautiful scenery, challanging hike. the last 1.5 miles are a butt kicker. Just got back from my trip yesterday, still some snow making for some sketchy off trail work arounds.

7 months ago

Trip #3

The summit of Round Top is a hidden gem, nestled between the crowded Yosemite Valley and Lake Tahoe. Heading up the Round Top Lake Trail, we did not see a single soul. We saw a lone person descending from Round Top along the Pack Trail, the only distraction from an ascent of complete solitude.

My father and I begun our ascent on the Round Top Lake Trail (Pack Trail), opting for a more direct ascent. The trail to Winnemucca Lake would have required more mileage on the ascent (along with a more gradual climb), while the Pack Trail seemed direct and challenging. We cruised for the first mile before encountering the first patch of snow near Lost Cabin Mine. From here, some navigation was required. We were able to relocate the trail in time to follow it for the steeper portion of the ascent to Round Top Lake. It's established and passable with sturdy hiking boots as of 7/22/17.

We arrived at Round Top Lake roughly an hour after our departure. Sunrise was two hours behind us and the lake was illuminated, with the sun sparkling off the water. Multiple wildflowers bloomed around the perimeter as the lake itself shone deep blue, with hints of turquoise and magenta scattered about it. We rested at the base of the lake and looked up at the intimidating Round Top Peak. The path of the Pack Trail was discernible from the base of the lake.

The Pack Trail continued past Round Top Lake's tributary and begun its incline on steep, loose terrain. The trail, while established and relatively easy to follow, increased in grade from there as the ground deteriorated to sand and scree. We followed it past a major snowfield (which is still sticking around, and probably will persist through August) to the saddle between Round Top and The Sisters. This ascent gains roughly 600 feet over the course of 1/2 mile, with 250 feet coming in just 1/5th or so.

From the saddle, there are multiple lightly-used trails that pick their own way to the summit. The official trail curves around to the Southwestern base of the final ascent, essentially leaving you on your own for a challenging scree. I chose to ascend rather directly from the Northwestern side while my father followed the trail. Our experiences were relatively similar. We met up shortly before the "wind shelter," where we dropped our packs and continued to the "official" summit.

The summit of Round Top offers exhilarating views to the North and to the South. To the North, Round Top Lake and Winnemucca Lake are immediately visible. Caples Lake decorates the landscape further back as the dominant Lake Tahoe is visible well in the distance. Some mountains of Tahoe (Price, Ralston, Tallac?) are easily seen behind snow-littered peaks in the foreground. To the South, Deadwood Peak contrasts sharply with the canyon as it stands out against the background of Sierra peaks. A light haze from the fires slightly decreased the visibility, but did little to detract.

We rested at the "wind shelter" (a semicircle wall of rocks to protect against Southern wind), collecting ourselves mentally before the descent. The challenging, loose ascent would prove to be more hazardous and difficult for a short period of time. We descended, sliding intermittently, down the rocky/loose section of the descent. We got down to the saddle without any major injury.

The next section of the descent was fun, as we primarily took the snowfield down (rather than the steep, sandy, loose trail). I was dressed in shorts without gaiters (my father as well) so we could not go sliding; we went glissading with trekking poles instead. The descent took roughly half as long as the ascent.

From Round Top Lake, the hike got continuously more populated, as it was later in the day (~10:30 AM) and Winnemucca Lake is the more popular destination. Though Winnemucca Lake is undeniably beautiful and snow was still present, the hike down was relatively cumbersome. We arrived back at the trailhead at 11:30 AM, completing our 4-hour hike.

We did a six mile hike on this trail up in the mountains. It was awesome! We loved it. It took us down to the south side of Lake Tahoe. We plan on going back in a few years. We were on vacating in Tahoe. This was our first time visiting there.

8 months ago

So beautiful - even on a hot day the trail stays fairly cool because it's mostly shaded.

8 months ago

We had an amazing time!! My first backpacking trip and I am hooked!

This trip was just breathtaking. We headed out with 3 adults and 6 teens from Eagle Lake trailhead (Get there early, early as there are many day hikers and sight-seers filling up the lot and all along the road.) Our permits were for Dick's Lake and we were originally going in on Bayview Trail, however we could only find online info that said Maggie's Peak was impassable, so decided to go in by way of Eagle Lake. Now that we know Maggie's Peak is passable, we would have preferred that short steep elevation gain over the brutal mile or more of steps heading up from Eagle Lake (especially for my shorty legs). As always, the challenges made the trip. We lost the trail due to large snow patches and ended up at a small lake after finding the trail again. After a hot day, significant elevation gain, a waning sun, and not knowing how difficult the trek to Dick's would be, we ended up camping here and enjoyed a stunning apricot sunset, the reflection bouncing off the granite hillside and onto the lake. Fresh and well-rested, we easily trekked up and over to Dick's the following morning. The snow was plentiful, but found that if we followed the ridge on the high side and climbing the rocks and boulders we could skirt around the snow and any potential fall throughs. Dick's Lake was about 85% frozen but we found an easy trail to the northwest corner. Here we had easy access to the water draining down towards Fontanellis. The lake itself had melted enough at this corner for some iceberg hopping and bracing jumps into the water. The weather couldn't have been better with mid-80s during the day and high 30s at night. Part of the group needed to return the following day so we hiked back Bayview Trail to Granite Lake. The water there felt warm and comfortable after Dick's! The remainder of the group camped on the southeast of Granite where we found several fantastic tent sites. We all agreed the best one was just over the ridge facing southwest with breathtaking views of south Lake Tahoe, Cascade Lake, the Cascade Falls, and Fallen Leaf Lake. A huge orange full moon rose up from the east leaving us all in awe and gave a perfect closure to a short but adventurous trip into Desolation.

This loop trail has a little of everything I love about hiking in the lower Sierra. Access is easy, the trail is in decent shape, the views are fantastic, wild flowers are everywhere, and wildlife is abundant. Access to water is plentiful. Backpacking is easy and good camping spots are easy to find. If I had any complaint it would be that horse traffic chews up the trail surface a bit, but this is normal in this area.

This trail is gorgeous! Lots of flowers, can hear the creek the majority of the time and at times take in stunning views of the creek, medows. This trail is mostly in the shade which is a big + on hot days. Happy trails!

Gorgeous hike up to Fontanillis lake, but still tons of snow and the lake is pretty much entirely frozen over.

Snow starts to show up after the first small creek crossing and then before the fork to Dicks. We decided to test out our orienteering skills and take the left to Dicks Pass and it was definitely more efficient, but all snow without tracks so definitely make sure you know how to navigate with a Topo map or GPS. The marmots were out in full force at Fontanillis Lake so be ready for them! High in the 70s, lows in the high 20s.

We decided to do the loop back. Coming down to Velmas it was equally as difficult to find the PCT. We crossed the river as high as we could as it was still snow covered with plenty of snow to make it across (move quickly). We then hugged the left side of the river to upper velma lake. We crossed at the bottom of the lower portion of upper velma just before it feeds into a creek that feeds lower velma. From there it's pretty straightforward.

Make sure you bring a bear hang for the marmots (and there were bear prints in the snow as well), gaiters, and even crampons if you want to try to do the pass early in the morning.

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