Round Top at Kit Carson Pass


4-star hike.
6½ mile loop • Medium difficulty.
Elevation 8,200 - 10,381 feet. Gain 2,300 feet.
Carson Pass, Northern California.
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Summer is the perfect time to visit Round Top and Winnemucca lakes, south of Lake Tahoe and near the ski resort of Kirkwood. If you can time your visit just right - sometime around the middle of July - we have it on good authority that you can find yourself surrounded with one of the finest displays of wildflowers in Northern California.

We were hiking a little too early in the season to witness the full flourish of the blooms but were compensated greatly with alpine meadows, abandoned mine buildings, fast flowing brooks and the last remaining patches of winter's snow.



Our featured route takes a counter-clockwise route along Pack Trail from Woods Lake Campground and includes an out-and-back spur trail to the 10,381 foot summit of Round Top Peak. Unlike the name suggests, Round Top's peak is decidedly jagged and pointed when summitting, requiring some fun scrambling and bouldering. You could choose to lengthen or shorten the route with the options listed below, or even set out from the alternative Carson Pass trailhead, which is shorter but inferior to the loop trail.

Both trailheads require a day use fee to park and be sure to pack some insect repellent - the bugs around the lake sure are hungry. Access to Woods Lake Campground is via a paved road off CA-88.

Alternate Routes:
a. Pack Trail loop only (5 mi loop). Avoids steep summit trail and visits both Winnemucca and Round Top lakes.
b. Carson Pass Trail (2 mi ea way). Out-and-back route Carson Pass to Winnemucca Lake. Winter sno-park parking permit required.
c. Sisters Peak. Short but steep side trip to bag an extra summit.
d. 4th Of July Lake (2 mi ea way). Side trip from Round Top lake.

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