Explore the most popular lake 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.

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
3 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
5 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
6 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.

hiking
6 months ago

I would rate this trail as fairly easy - not moderate. Trail is a little difficult to follow in spots. A couple of weeks ago would have been better for fall colors. Very nice hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Serene alpine lake surrounded by historic cabins on an Autumn weekday.

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.

backpacking
7 months ago

Very nice hike and overnight stay at Roundtop.

A great trail! Took 4 friends and 3 dogs. We found that there was snow everywhere. Breath taking!! Most of the trail is well marked. The log across the stream was snowed over with ice, a bit of a challenge! Once we got to the granite, many of the ducks had been knocked over. Another challenge, but we found our way to the lake. We all had a fantastic time.

hiking
8 months ago

Amazing day- Clear sky's - Warm- not crowded at all
Definitely wear ankle high hiking boots - lots of climbing up rocks and it is steep downhill on them

hiking
8 months ago

Gorgeous hike!! We experienced an awesome thunder storm ⛈!!!

on Lake Margaret Trail

hiking
8 months ago

Beautiful trail. Enjoyed how we were in and out of trees and up and down on the trail. Pretty rocky and some maneuvering on the bigger rocks. The trail makers were over all easy to follow until we got to the large tree trunk that kinda looked like a dead end but once we climbed over it we were able to find the trail after some looking around (over the tree trunk follow to your right and you will start seeing markers again). We headed out pretty early so we didn't see too many people on the way in but by the time we were on our way back their was a lot more traffic. Looking forward to going back.

backpacking
8 months ago

Great short trail. Too many people and watch out for skinny dippers.

hiking
8 months ago

Very scenic, fun rock scrambling en route to picturesque lake. Some moving water and smaller ponds along the way provide good birdwatching opportunities as well.

backpacking
8 months ago

it was a good up and down trail is a little harder for beginners trying to stay on the path not a good fishing area but decent swimming and camping also there are occasional nudists if that doesn't bother you beautiful scenery and sunsets

hiking
8 months ago

Splendid hike very close to numerous state and private campgrounds. No significant elevation change so doable for all age ranges. Beautiful creeks and meadows and varying amounts of hiking amongst rocky terrain and tall forests. And if it didn't get any better than that.. lake Margaret at the end which you can swim and jump off rocks into the water with above average views.

backpacking
8 months ago

People, leave your drones at home! Arrived at the lake to find two drones, music playing, people yelling as they jumped into the lake and later howling at the moon at night. More like an MTV real world special than anything I've ever seen in the back country. Beautiful spot, but an "interesting" crowd. Prob won't go back on a weekend.

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