Round Top & Winnemucca and Fourth of July Lake is a 10 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Kirkwood, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
10.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,490 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

cross country skiing

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

snowshoeing

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

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

hiking
16 days ago

Great hike overall, steep incline when climbing back up from Fourth of July Lake. Favorite part is Round Top Lake - gorgeous!

hiking
1 month ago

Loved this one! Really well marked trails and a good mix of terrain and absolutely spectacular views. That being said, the trail up to round top is precarious! It’s hard to see where to go - it curves toward the front so as you’re going up, the lake is at your back. The trail down to 4th of July was hard to see - just as well, it’s a steep trek back up.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike. Stayed at wood lake campground. Host was great. Started from there. Lots of things to see, mine, snow, climbing, water to jump in and view from top was amazing.

2 months ago

excellent hike. if you are looking for a bit easier hike, I suggest you go from woods to winnemucca then Round Top back to to woods.

2 months ago

Beautiful views and pristine lakes. Fantastic hike.

backpacking
3 months ago

This one is a gem of an adventure. Led a group of about 18 people here for a backpacking adventure in June. Permits are free at the Ranger Station. Parked at the Woods Lake Parking and started the hike. The place is filled with Flowers which is awesome. Great views and nice small waterfalls along the way. See neat old broken rusted down carts. Some snow here and there but nothing to be worried about. This hike is pretty high in elevation so it was difficult because of that and the pack that we wore. Spent the night at Round Top Lake. Nice lake. I went in for a swim so did others. Its a nice lake. At night, the lake is SUPER windy and things will be flying. Not too cold though. In the morning around 630AM and it was super windy and chilly, hiked Round Top Summit which took about 2.5 hours. Its nice up there. The elevation made me tired and I hike quite a bit. Back at camp, cleaned up and hiked back down through Winnemucca lake which was nice. Great views of the place going down the hike. Lots of flowers. Recommended!

4 months ago

10/10 would recommend! We went out towards Winnemucca first, crossed to Round Top Lake, dropped to Fourth of July Lake, and took the Woods Lake trail back. Does not disappoint!

4 months ago

Went from Carson Pass to Round Top. The flowers are blooming and the weather great. Highly recommended hike. Go all the way to the top of Round Top for killer views!

4 months ago

HELP! I lost my wedding band on the section between 4th of July Lake and the top. It’s a simple silver band and is most likely lost somewhere along the upper third of the trail. Please let me know if you find anything! danjhherrick@gmail.com

backpacking
4 months ago

We started off from Woods Lake side on Saturday, hiked down fourth of july lake during the afternoon, and camped at round top lake during the night; we then hiked up round top mountain in the early morning and finished the loop off minnemucca lake and carson pass. On the side of wooden lake to round top, approximately a third to fourth of the trails are obscured by snow (in June). We met quite a few groups who were either scared off by the snow or got lost. Highly recommend windshield layer or thicker jackets, snow shoes or hiking boots to tread of the snow. It gets a lot windier at higher altitude near round top lake. The experience itself was one of a kind. You have to tread through snow and be really good at pinpointing the trail ahead. Some of the human tracks become water streams or mud pads due to snow melt, so wear durable hiking shoes. There are 6 camp grounds at round top lake and you must acquire a permit at the Carson Pass visitor center. We were the only one who camped there, and the night was extremely windy and cold. Thankfull we were prepared for the worst of the weather and made it through. I personally think that the route through winnemucca lake to round top is steadier pace, more scenic and beautiful, and no snow until you pass winnemucca. The additional path down fourth of july and up the round top mountain are definitely rewarding and have fantastic views of the entire valley.

5 months ago

Parking lot can’t be reached, still snow and a downed tree. Put snowshoes to make better progress. Was hard to find the trail down from Round Top trail, slow going. A beautiful day, great hike.

backpacking
5 months ago

I did this one last October (2017). It was one of the most beautiful backpacking trips I have done. I wonder what the current trail condition is right now. If anyone writes a new review, can you please comment on the trail/snow condition? Thank you very much in advance.

6 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous trail. I’m not sure why they have Fourth of July lake on this trail and the rating is still moderate though. Getting from Round Top Lake to Fourth of July Lake and back is one of the most difficult hikes I have done! Absolutely worth it but very exhausting. I am not someone who hikes all over the place and as frequently as I’d like, but I go on quite a few hikes throughout the year and getting to Fourth of July lake is at best moderately difficult!

snowshoeing
7 months ago

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!

snowshoeing
9 months ago

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.

hiking
11 months ago

Beyond rad scenery

hiking
Monday, November 13, 2017

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!

hiking
Friday, October 20, 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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.

hiking
Sunday, October 01, 2017

amazing and awesome views.

backpacking
Sunday, October 01, 2017

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.

hiking
Sunday, August 13, 2017

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.

hiking
Tuesday, August 08, 2017

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.

hiking
Saturday, July 22, 2017

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.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

I can't really speak for the trails since I did this when the rangers said it had 25 feet of snow. In such a setting it is easy to get disoriented in the forest without many waypoints. But it seems to be a very popular area and there are plenty of ski and snowshoe tracks to follow. Once you get out of the forest it totally opens up and it is easy to find your way. I am tempted to give 4 stars because it is unclear during the winter but ultimately how can a place like this not be a 5 star? Just know that you need to practice your navigation skills in heavy snow.

With that said the parking at Carson Pass is very clear and creates an easy access point. I snowshoed, hiked and finally climbed Round Top Peak from its western ridge (similar to the "pack trail" in the map). Amazingly beautiful place, and the round trip only took me about 6 miles. You can add on as much as you want. My big interest is to return with skis, climb the area again and ski down. I'll be back...

1 month ago

hiking
3 months ago

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