Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Kirkwood with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
3 days ago

Amazing hike! Trail is well marked except at end when you hike up a granite boulder when you near the lake. Go to the left here. Wildflowers were beautiful and lake not too cold to swim in!!!

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!

Great hike with a nice overlook to 4th of July lake if you go around the mountainside.
Nice gradual elevation with several spectacular mountains.

hiking
5 days ago

not sure i liked this hike. loved all the flowers but trail was not described well by all trails. lots of boulders to navigate and granite to maneuver up and down. Lost trail and never made it to the Lake. I hike a lot but not sure this was for me.

Beautiful views and great hike - only slog is the Summit City Trail portion, as it's overgrown and easy to get off track. Overall, well worth it! No snow as of 7/1/18 except a few patches on the PCT next to Elephant's Back that are easy to cross.

Did this loop CC a few years back, camping at 4th of July the first night, but I found this makes Day 1 a little too short and Day 2 pretty long. Recommend doing it clockwise (as I did last week) and staying at 4th of July lake - then on day 2 the climb out of 4th up to Round Top Lake is nice and cool before the sun breaks over the hill :) You can also climb Round Top itself as a side hike, making Day 2 about 7-8 miles back to Carson Pass Station from 4th of July lake.

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!

Good hike and the lake was beautiful to see at the end

hiking
15 days ago

loved it was awesome views will do it again

hiking
15 days ago

Beautiful hike to a gorgeous mountain lake. Wild flowers were lovely. Some good bouldering and scrambling opportunities for 13-year old boy that kept him interested on the trail.

16 grueling but rewarding miles and some gnarly elevation gain but what a beautiful way to spend a Saturday. We started at Carson pass ranger station.The trail is easy just passed Winnemucca. Beyond that you will find more solitude as the trail is quite steep down to Fourth of July Lake and the day hikers dwindled to maybe three or four. Personally I find this to be the most beautiful part of the hike. After Fourth of July lake and Into Summit city Canyon Trail we didn’t see another soul until we got back on the PCT. the trail marker for Summit City from 4th of July is turned wrong and points you the wrong way. It is not a hard right as the marker shows but more to the left. Thanks to the trail workers the trail was free and clear all the way down 4th of July lake. Summit city trail was still quite overgrown but with a little perseverance (and dedicated bushwhacking), it was passable. No Snow except for two wide patches that we had no problem getting over in regular hiking shoes. Wildflowers are getting their game on and so are the mosquitoes. Make sure to bring your bug repellent! I would say 50/50 shade to sun so bring your sun hat if you do the full 16.

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

Great hike with lovely views and a good workout. But like most places that are featured on social media (Carson Pass Visitor Info Station has its own Facebook page), it is no longer "lightly traveled" - you now have to arrive early to get a parking space for the trailhead and at least on weekends, the trails are pretty busy. Alltrails may want to edit their description.

hiking
25 days ago

Trail is dry. No snow. No extended climbs; good for kids. 2 log crossings, but wide and fairly easy

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.

A couple of lakes really. Last September I joined Jere's Jaunts for a COLD fall hike. Early morning temps were literally freezing. Lucky I packed warm. one of our group, Marty, showed up in shorts as usual and a light fleece jacket. He and his wife got out of the car and upon seeing the frozen water in the parking lot at Carson Pass immediately began complaining. To his credit he made it half way before saying we were all nuts. LOL!

I loved this hike. Fairly moderate with only one slippery, icy water crossing. We all made it with ease. I also like it cold. So refreshing up in the Sierras!

This was a beautiful hike, nothing too fancy. It was very windy the day I hiked so the temperatures were cool. Few dogs off leash, no real issues though.

great trail! awesome terrain for novices like us. difficult to follow trail in some places. almost no snow left. prepare for some mud.

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.

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.

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!

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!

We hiked this trail many times. It is always good.

snowshoeing
4 months ago

As of 2/18/18, there’s plenty of snow. The views are beautiful, and the trail isn’t too steep. The trail is pretty easy to follow. I loved the surrounding views of mountains and frozen lakes. Not too crowded. We will be back.

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
7 months ago

This is one of those trails which are are more about the journey than the destination. The lake itself is pretty meh. There are some granite cliffs next to the lake which are fascinating and very Yosemite-esque. I went on 11/26/17. There was a snowstorm the week before but the trail was clear. It is very hard to follow and there was swampy land and some water on the trail. So make sure you wear trail boots and socks. The ice ponds along the trail at this time were fascinating.

Beyond rad scenery

snowshoeing
7 months ago

Due this trail being so popular and short, I have tried to do this trail in the winter months.
The first time in early 2017 we were unable to complete the trail due to so much snow on the ground and high water.
This time we hit it just right! Headed up right after a storm that dumped snow only above 6000' and maybe 6 to 8" of fresh powder.
I do not suggest attempting this trail when snow is deep. To many areas where avalanches may occur. There is a ton of water on the trail so bring your tall boots.
The scenery was awesome!
Our tracks are a little off due to the snow cover but managed to stay on track better on the back half.

One of my favorite places to hike.
I prefer winter months but spring is excellent too.

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 have not seen many do this loop and was surprised how well the trail was managed.
Through the trees on the SE side of the tail it does thin out as the trees drop a lot of needles and sticks. All the markers where in place but Id suggest a GPS.

We did this trail CC wise due to the added 1 mile down hill from Fourth of July Lake. We camped at the intersection of the PCT and Summit City Canyon Trail which was about 10 miles on day 1. There was still snow on the back side of Elephants Back that we had to hike around due to being Icy and steep.
Over all GREAT views and huge canyons on the back side.

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