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There is much to enjoy here year-round, but Winter and early Spring months are when you can get out your snowshoes, mountaineering gear, and/or skis and take advantage of this snowy wonderland. If you get a Snow Park pass (definitely get one of these, by the way - I believe California limits how much the pass-issuer will cost you, so they're not bad at $25.00 or so) you will have an excellent parking lot next to the trail. This gives you access to a paradise for Winter sports enthusiasts.

After 10am or so, I find that the parking lot exponentially fills up. Get there as early as you can.

Round Top Peak and other geological features, like Elephant Back (which is aptly named), tower above the relatively flat surroundings, this gives you the freedom to cross country and explore around. Kirkwood, CA and the Mokelumne Wilderness are known for high levels of precipitation. I was here recently (mid-April) and it is still dumped on. Be courteous and follow "snow etiquette and traditions", in other words don't be like me and trample parts of ski tracks and get called out for it. Duh!

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.

What a wonderful view! My wife and I did this day hike back in the early 1990’s and it was definitely worth it. Lots of wildflowers and bees....would recommend bringing 2 liters of water because there are no real sources to get water up there. The final section to top is completely exposed. The push up to the very top uses a staircase that leads directly to fire lookout. The stairs have an open view below....(not for people afraid of heights). There was a fire burning that day over by Truckee, but far enough away to not abstract our view. It turned out to be a pretty big fire and burned through the entire corridor around int. 80.

Amazing hike. Covered in snow right now. Yak tracks might be best option for walking on snow that is more like ice in parts. Needs 4 wheel drive to get up to butcher pass rd then we walked up to trailhead. Didn't make it to the top as we started our hike around 1pm. Knowing what we know now we'd probably try to aim to start the trail no later than 10am.

backpacking
4 months ago

i didn't reach the top but it was still an amazing hike. there was a lot of snow on the road preventing my car from getting to the Butte trailhead so I used the packer saddle trail. the trail is fairly difficult to surpass right now as there is snow with ice under it. the easiest way is the long way by talking the service road to the rec vehicle trail. i had to turn around by the time i found it but I'll be back!

Beyond rad scenery

Great hike! Super hard on the way up and the lookout is cool but terrifying!

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!

Great hike beautiful views, didn’t care much for having mountain bikers on the trail, seems they will damage the trail. Also makes it more hazardous for hikers and dogs.

Incredible hike with gorgeous views. It snowed a few days before we went so the trail was a bit muddy. The fire tower is pretty awesome although it can be a challenge for those with a fear of heights.

Beautiful hike. Well travelled for good reason. Head out early to avoid crowds. The fire tower is simply breathtaking.

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.

A little steeper than I expected but very worth the hike took us 3 hours round trip as we took quite a few breaks. the end staircase to the lookout is definitely not for anyone afraid of heights at there is about 1000 foot drop underneath the stairs! great hike though!

One of the best hikes I've ever done. View is worth every step uphill! A moderate 2hr out and back. Bring your camera.

This is a gorgeous loop with scenery to spare. There's a little bit of everything along the trail – waterfalls, wildflowers, endless views. And of course there's a great stretch of moonscape along Lake Aloha, unlike anything else in the immediate area. I hiked it yesterday and can't wait to go back.

The Sierra Buttes lookout trail was beautiful. My 8 year old struggled for the first mile having a hard time with the steepness. Even he would say it was worth it once we reached the top. The stairs made me nervous although my boys didn't seem to mind.

Such a beautiful hike!

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.

My goodness!

hiking
8 months ago

We took a variation of the All Trails Gray Eagle Creek/Waterfalls hike and turned it into a loop including Smith Creek and Smith Lake. This ended up being a fairly strenuous hike, at least more so than we had counted on. After starting on the Gray Eagle Creek trail we took the cut off that goes over to the Smith Creek trail. This trail goes up and over a ridge with a few nice views on the way. Then we walked toward Smith Lake on the Smith Creek trail - upstream and uphill all the way through forested area. The Creek is pretty as it tumbles down with several small cascading falls but it would have been prettier if we had seen them walking downhill. We side tripped to Smith Lake then came back and crossed the bridge and went down the Smith Lake trail to the parking area not far from Gray Eagle lodge, picked up the Gray Eagle Creek trail to head back to where we started. Great views of the area from the top of the Smith Lake trail. If I were to do it again I'd make it a point to point by taking the Smith Lake trail up to the lake and the Smith Creek trail all the way to Mohawk/Plumas Pines.

It was harder at the top but the hike was worth the view.

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 hike with gorgeous views. Starts off very steep, so be ready to ascend almost 2000 ft.

Lots of shade in the morning, but much less on the way down in the afternoon hours.

Be sure to pack plenty of snacks and water.

Enjoy! It's worth the trek.

Amazing view of The Valley below, plenty of shade on the way up.

Well worth it.

Phew!!! That was a lot of uphill. But totally worth every breath stealing, thigh burning step!

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