Carson Pass to Big Meadow


Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 7.4 miles one-way
8550 feet
+500, -1750 feet
Navigation Map and compass
Time Full day
Season Late December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Carson Pass, Caples Lake, Echo Lake and Freel Peak
Start Meiss Sno-Park, 0.1 mile west of Carson Pass on Highway 88.
End Highway 89 5.0 miles south of Highway 50 and Meyers. This point is approximately 1.8 miles west of the west end of Grass Lake. There is a turnout on the north side of the road.


This one-way tour makes for an interesting end to a visit to Meiss Lake. After miles of wide open skiing in the Upper Truckee River drainage you will be faced with tight downhill terrain in the second half of this tour. Beyond Meiss Lake you will also need a proficiency in winter navigation as the landmarks beyond are poor.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 1.0
Elevation change: +300, -50 feet

From the Meiss Sno-Park (1) work your way west for 0.5 mile while climbing gradually and then ascend northwest for another 0.5 mile until you reach the obvious broad saddle (2). Early and late in the snow season you may find the south-facing slopes leading to the saddle partially barren. Also, take care to avoid the slopes beneath the southwest ridge of Red Lake Peak, which may be avalanche prone.

Miles: 1.0 - 2.4
Elevation change: -400 feet

Descend north down the gully for 1.4 miles until you reach two old buildings (3) that are operated as the Meiss Ski Hut. You loose nearly all the elevation in the first half of the distance. You will probably find the skiing easiest on the side-slope east (right) of the creek. Once down in the meadow-like terrain you will want to stay on the east (right) side of the creek.

Miles: 2.4 - 3.5
Elevation change: -100 feet

Continue north through meadow-like terrain for 1.1 miles until you reach Meiss Lake(4).

Miles: 3.5 - 4.6
Elevation change: -250 feet

Continue north for 1.1 miles until you reach Round Lake (5). You will need to pick your way through brush and boulders to reach the lake if the snow conditions are poor.

Miles: 4.6 - 5.4
Elevation change: +50, -200 feet

Continue north paralleling the ridge that lies to the east (right) and staying level and close to it for a total of 0.8 mile until you reach a rock outcropping (6).

Miles: 5.4 - 5.7
Elevation change: +150 feet

Beyond the rock outcropping traverse north and up the hillside in the fairly open terrain for 0.3 mile to a saddle (7) located in the woods. Below and to the east of the saddle is one of the creeks that feed Big Meadow Creek.

Miles: 5.7 - 6.8
Elevation change: -550 feet

Cross to the east side of the saddle and traverse north paralleling the ridge and drainage while steadily loosing elvation for 1.1 miles until you reach Big Meadow (8).

Miles: 6.8 - 7.4
Elevation change: -200 feet

Ski to the north end of Big Meadow and then descend along the east (right) side of Big Meadow Creek for a total of 0.6 mile until you reach Highway 89 (9).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
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