EveryTrail is now a part of AllTrails! Please click here to read more.

Lake Winnemucca from Carson Pass via Pacific Crest Trail

MODERATE 180 reviews
#2 of 14 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

camping

cross country skiing

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

bird watching

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

fee

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
10 days ago

I really really enjoyed this hike ! So beautiful and very different then anything I’ve done in the area before. Frog lakeis so adorable with a GREAT view. Push on a little further to get to Winniemucca lake which is also a very beautiful sight with the jagged peak in the back round. The trail is nice and easy to follow and I would rate this as easy to moderate depending on your skill level. I haven’t been out much as of recently so the beginning climb up to frog lake was moderate to me but by no means hard. This is a great gem I will definitely be going again.

hiking
16 days ago

Great short hike. The high sierras are something else.

hiking
19 days ago

Beautiful wildflowers and a good hike for almost any ability level. Was crowded on a holiday weekend. It was perfect to hike in to the lake, picnic there and then hike back out. There were also many dogs!

hiking
19 days ago

This is a fabulous hike. Everything you want..but it is crowded. Dogs should be on leash..better for all. If you go on a weekend, you will probably encounter a couple of hundred people...but well worth it. Doable for most everyone.

hiking
20 days ago

Fantastic, beautiful hike! The wildflowers were brilliant. The lake was clear and cold. We picnicked on a large rock and had a nice rest up for the walk back. Put our feet in the water to cool off. It’s an easy hike but the altitude got to me a little bit.

20 days ago

8 30 2019 superb hike, snow gone, late season wildflowers galore!! we exited via Woods Lake, great hike. Dual car. read up 1st on Carson-Fremont 1844 Feb. pass crossing!! Amazing story.

hiking
21 days ago

flowers around spring in trail approx 2 miles are peaking. others are still there but fading.

backpacking
24 days ago

What a fantastic trip! We hiked in Sunday night and stayed until Tuesday (last week of August) and what a treat! The hike in was perfect for our (combined) 5 kids two that are 8 & 7. They handled the hike uphill (not much of one) like a boss. The flowers were STUNNING! So much beauty and still snow. We hiked around to the south side of the lake to the waterfall and wow just added to the experience. We only did this with the older kids I would not recommend this for smaller ones. I think this is my new favourite family backpacking trip. Oh it has 3-designated campsites which are first come first serve, you can check out permits at the Carson pass ranger station. And NO bugs super bonus! Hope that helps.

hiking
27 days ago

great. no mosquitoes. beautiful wildflowers. temperature perfect in the morning. a little warm in the afternoon. limited shade. dont miss frog lake on the way.

hiking
29 days ago

Wonderful hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful trail; easy walk with a bit of small incline. Best time to go is around late July to aug to see the wildflowers bloom. Hardly any mosquito that I’ve seen. Trail is not much shaded but it’s not super hot.

hiking
1 month ago

Incredible wildflowers! The view from Winnemucca lake is amazing! Look for “watermelon snow” across the lake.

Fantastic scenery and the BEST week for wildflowers EVER!!! I lived in Colorado and have done some 14er hikes. I have never seen this brilliant of a wildflower display ever!! Cool at 8 am but warmed up when the sun finally came out! Still snow on the mountains above Lake Winnemucca.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

Went on 8/4/19. No snow on the trail—only adjacent to the trail. Wildflowers are in bloom, but probably not peak yet. Mostly lupine, mule ears, and paintbrush at this stage; others will likely bloom in the next week or two. Always a nice hike in late summer!

hiking
1 month ago

A beautiful way to spend an afternoon. Great hike and gorgeous wildflowers.

The trail up to Winnemucca Lake is easy/moderate (due to altitude). We decided to keep on going, up to Round Top Lake. That stretch of trail is quite a bit steeper, moderate+. We arrived at Carson Pass a little after 10 on a Sunday morning. Main lot was full, and overflow lot was almost full. Trail is well maintained and a bit crowded up to Winnemucca Lake. Gorgeous wildflowers right now, and still some snow on the ground.

hiking
1 month ago

wild flowers everywhere! we continued to round top lake, bring a sweater the wind was whipping and frigid up there.

Nice! One of the most beautiful places. Water everywhere, waterfalls and wild flowers. Many lakes! Lots of snow. Great hike especially if you go on to round top lake and down by wood lake.

hiking
2 months ago

I love hiking to Lake Winnemucca, either from Carson Pass or from Woods Lake (latter is more of an incline, but nice hike and usually less crowded). Since this trail is very high (Carson Pass is almost 9000 feet), snow lasts long. We hiked today, July 21, and most of the trail was not covered with snow, but you cross about 4-5 snowbanks. Lake itself still has some snow on the shore. Today we did not continue to Round Top because of snow. The Iris patch behind frog lake is in full bloom now, but the big wild flower meadow will probably peak in two weeks. Last year same time the bloom was over everywhere except the top of Round Top - so it really depends on how much snow the winter had and when it melts. I personally like it with or without bloom, but the peak of the bloom turns the Carson Pass to Winnemucca Lake trail into Disneyland.

This is nice hike. Beautiful wildflowers and lakes

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Beautiful hike! Our weather was very cooperative with a nice light breeze. We encountered about 4 patches of snow but easily got through. There were some wildflowers but looks like more to come in the next few weeks.

hiking
2 months ago

Wasn’t sure how the hike would be from Carson pass to Winnemucca today, but really not too bad, if you’re willing to endure a little snow. From the parking lot to frog lake there’s very little snow. However once you get past the intersection of the PCT trail, it’s about 50% snow covered to the lake. The area just past the wildflower meadow up to the lake is about 80% snow-covered and the trail is not visible. However, someone placed some flagging to help. Regardless, if you just do a line of sight hike towards round top peak, you’ll get there. The hike from Winnemucca up to Round Top is not advised as it is virtually 100% snow-covered, slippery and steep. Winnemucca is still about 1/3 covered with ice. (SE side) For those of you interested in wildflowers, .........while some are starting to emerge, it’s going to be at least 3 to 4 weeks before it hits its peak.

hiking
off trail
snow
2 months ago

Still some snow in route to Lake Winnemucca. The trail can be a little hard to follow, but just keep your eye out for the orange flags in the trees and rocks. Its kinda a bummer that we have to walk off the trail because its hard to avoid stepping on flowers getting ready to bloom. Id say another 2 -3 wks and the snow on the trail should be gone and more flowers will be blooming. We did not have poles and made it fine, but they would have been nice on the decent in a few spots.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Hiked to Winnemucca and around Frog Lake today 7/6/19. Still a fair amount of snow on the trail with sun cups as you get closer to the Winnemucca. Most people were hiking in just boots, would recommend bringing poles if you have them. Some flowers starting to come out particularly around east side of Frog Lake.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

I did this trail today - technically Winnemucca Lake is accessible, but there is quite a bit of snow. The trail has patches of snow until the intersection with PCT (right after Frog Lake). Then it’s completely snowed over. Without keen trail finding abilities and/or familiarity with this trail, it is tricky to know the route. I volunteer at the Station at Carson Pass and know this trail very well: I still had to pull out All Trails for the GPS a couple of times. Plus, sun cups all over the snow fields make it a real pain. Trekking poles are a must and microspikes would help as well. Winnemucca Lake is almost all melted, but still some snow and ice on the lake. Some wildflowers starting to poke out of the ground, but I think it’ll be another week or two before the trail is easily passable. Hope this helps!!

hiking
2 months ago

Love this trail.. I haven’t been yet this year but I am ready to go, has anyone been up to the lake yet and is it possible with moderate hiking boots?

snowshoeing
off trail
6 months ago

Great snowshoe to Winnemucca Lake and then up to Elephants Back. Made a snowman and a snow bear near the lake.

best one out there

6 months ago

nice place to snow shoe

Load More

Featured Trails