Lake Winnemucca from Carson Pass via Pacific Crest Trail

MODERATE 68 reviews
#2 of 11 trails in

Lake Winnemucca from Carson Pass via Pacific Crest Trail is a 5.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Markleeville, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
5.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
629 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

cross country skiing

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Excellent moderate hike at Sierra crest southwest of Lake Tahoe Only the fiercest blizzards close Carson Pass, which crosses the Sierra Nevada crest about 30 miles southwest of South Lake Tahoe. The trailhead is next to a parking lot on California Highway 88, which means you can drive up, park and start hiking, snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing within minutes. Lake Winnmucca offers a beautiful introduction to high-country hiking: it's a little over 2 miles south of the Carson Pass trailhead with about 600 feet of elevation gain. Count on about five miles of hiking, and give yourself extra time if you're coming up from sea level: Starting out at 8,500 feet will be a shock to your system; don't expect to maintain your lowland pace. Veteran hikers and skiers often move on to Round Top, a jagged peak rising behind the lake, but rookies should stick to this easier alternative. Weekdays with clear weather forecasts are the best time to go; it can get crowded on the weekends and parking can be scarce, even in the depths of winter. In early July you're apt to meet Pacific Crest Trail through-hikers on their way from Mexico to Canada. Summer: $5 summer day use fee to park at Carson Pass. Pay via green iron ranger near the trail head. Winter: Nov. 1 to May 30: Sno-Park permit ($5) must be acquired at a U.S. Forest Service ranger station. Wilderness permits required for overnight stays in the backcountry -- also available at Forest Service sites.

hiking
23 hours ago

Great trail to hike with your dog

hiking
24 days ago

Great hike! The wildflowers are amazing this time of year. The trail is very crowded which can make it hard to enjoy the area where the majority of wildflowers are. Once you get to the lakes though its easy to find a spot to be alone. Both parking lots were full by 10am. Amazing hike for dogs! My guy loved all the water to drink and play in. Saw a million other labradoodles out that day.

24 days ago

Very moderate. Great for kids and dogs. Very crowded however.

30 days ago

This is one of the prettiest summer hikes in the area! The wild flowers were amazing! It was moderate but still felt longer than I anticipated. Lots of traffic on this trail.

hiking
1 month ago

I've done this hike many times and never tire of it. I did it with my sons yesterday. We started at 10:50 am., and by that time the main parking lot was full, so I recommend getting there early if you can.

The wildflower display is fantastic right now. It probably will be great through the end of July and will start to fade after that. I've done this hike many times from June through October; it's always a good hike but it's extra special when you go during peak wildflower season.

Winnemucca Lake is a nice lunch spot because it's a beautiful lake with a spectacular mountain background. If you are up for more of a hike, going the extra mile to Round Top Lake is worth it. We pushed on to Round Top Peak, which affords great views all around, but it's a great hike even if you skip the mountain peak.

1 month ago

Just got back from a great hike to Winnemucca. The wildflowers are out of control, between the flowers, the views, the lake, it was absolutely beautiful! We got there around 7:45 and found parking easily, took about an hour to get to the lake, hung out for a while and it was practically desolate, just a few people around the lake fishing. When we hiked back we encountered lots of folks, so I highly recommend getting an early start if you don’t want too much “traffic”. Loved this hike!

hiking
1 month ago

Wildflowers are beautiful right now. I just posted the video I took from my hike if you are interested in seeing trail conditions. https://youtu.be/nfQ-1Xb2GzI

Oh...I recommend starting your hike EARLY! There were hordes of people heading up on my way back. The trail was packed!

One of my favorite hikes for variety, wildflowers and vista. Moderate difficulty and a gorgeous lake at the end.

hiking
1 month ago

Breathtaking. Words can't describe just how beautiful it is. The vistas and the wildflowers were absolutely spectacular. I went on July 4th and there was a fair amount of trail traffic out to the lake. I decided to go on up to Round Top and made a loop of it, coming down Pack Trail to the Woods Lake campgrounds, and then took the access road back to Rte 88 and the trail head. Hike ended up being about 10 miles and after Round Top, there was much less trail traffic. The dogs and I both loved it, and there were pretty much non-stop photo opportunities. I get it why people can get so addicted to the high country!

1 month ago

Spectacular hike. Among my favorites in the area. We added Round Top Lake and a walk around Frog Lake. Trail is currently clear of snow. Plenty of wildflowers. Just beautiful.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike. View is breathtaking, depending on the time there is most likely snow on the trail and multiple lakes.

4 months ago

Enjoyed a great snowshoe hike to Lake Winnemucca today. Trail well packed and lake covered in snow, it was beautiful!

4 months ago

Great snowshoe to Winnemucca today.

snowshoeing
4 months ago

Important Note—You need to purchase a Sno-Park pass AT A STORE if you are hiking this trail in the winter. There is no option to purchase the $5 pass at the trailhead in the winter!

Also, when you reach a trail junction with an option to head to Woods Lake go this way!

We definitely needed our snowshoes today!

hiking
7 months ago

Plenty of snow and the trail is well blazed. Missed the Frog lake detour though. Packed enough to walk with microspikes most of the way but there were a couple of stretches I wished I had snowshoes.

hiking
10 months ago

Amazing views. Well manicured trail. Take the Frog Lake detour for a great Vista of Red Lake then circle back to the trail to continue on to Lake Winnemucca.

There's a parking lot with a cash box. Bring $5 with you. Bathrooms also located at the parking lot.

11 months ago

The wildflowers were exceptional this year!

11 months ago

11 months ago

Good quite, hike during the week. Disappointed I missed the wild flowers but still beautiful.

hiking
11 months ago

The wild flowers are amazing
Best to hike around the first two weeks of august

hiking
11 months ago

Took our baby and our snowboards and did some snowboarding in August!!! Easy enough to make with a heavy front and backpack!!!

hiking
Friday, August 11, 2017

Well maintained trail and beautiful views. Much easier than "moderate" once you've become acclimated to the elevation. Wildflowers were in full bloom with patches of snow still around. Highly recommend!

hiking
Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Way too crowded for my likings. Dogs need to be on a leash throughout but I let mine off at intervals and at the lakes to swim.

hiking
Saturday, July 29, 2017

Very nice trail! Hiked up and around frog lake and took a dip in the cool water. Greenery and wildflowers abound. Saw a buck and several birds. Would probably rate it easy instead of moderate. Will definitely do again!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

greAt hike with some snow patches to walk across and some wildflowers.

hiking
Sunday, May 21, 2017

This was my Grandma's favorite wildflower hike... Elephant Back. I'm so glad to have shared it with her. ♡

Monday, September 12, 2016

fun hike. the pct section is a bit harder than the winnemuca section. camped up at winnemuca and it was gorgeous lake to ourselves. tried for round top but didn't have it in us. we packed way too much but had a blast anyways

Saturday, September 03, 2016

well maintained trail. fantastic views. will definitely go back. Probably in the off season so it's not so crowded

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Even though the wild flowers are mostly gone,the views are still wonderful. Feeling the breeze while resting at Lake Winnemucca and gazing up at Round Top was today's reward.

hiking
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

We come back every year to see the wildflowers. We were a bit late this year but their were still some blooming and the views we spectacular. Stopped at Frog Lake and then onwards to enjoy lunch at Winnemucca Lake. Good up and down hiking.

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