Carson Pass to Caples Lake
Via Showers Lake


Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 10.4 miles one-way
8550 feet
+1100, -1800 feet
Navigation Map and compass
Time Full day
Season Mid-December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Carson Pass, Echo Lake and Caples Lake
Start Meiss Sno-Park, 0.1 mile west of Carson Pass on Highway 88.
End The turnout on Highway 88 on the south side of the road 0.2 mile east of the entrance to the highway maintenance station adjacent to Caples Lake. It is not legal to park on the roadway side of the fog line.


This tour, which circles the ridge that includes Little Round Top, is more than a challenge — it is an outrageously fine, but long, tour. It is filled with exceptionally fine ski touring terrain, wide open bowls and slopes, and you will be treated to great scenery.

All and all, this tour is a gem that qualified skiers should not miss. However, some of the terrain is avalanche prone. You will see cornices in many places and you should exercise caution when skiing this tour. Be aware that the potential avalanche locations described in the mileage log are only the most obvious; there may be others.

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 - 3.9
Elevation change: +100, -150 feet

Continue in a generally northwest direction until the meadow opens up and then continue northwest for a total of 1.5 miles until you reach a location (there is no landmark here) from which you can ascend to the northwest to Showers Lake (4).

Miles: 3.9 - 4.4
Elevation change: +350, -50 feet

Ascend northwest for 0.5 mile until you reach Showers Lake (5). This section passes through avalanche terrain.

Miles: 4.4 - 5.6
Elevation change: +350, -50 feet

Ski in a generally northwest direction on a bench for 1.2 miles until you reach the north end of the ridge of which Little Round Top is a part (6). To the west (left) of the bench is a steep ridge and potential avalanche danger, and to the east (right) is a steep drop-off.

Miles: 5.6 - 7.6
Elevation change: Nil

Ski around the west side of Little Round Top while maintaining an elevation of approximately 9000 feet until you reach a more level area on the southwest spur of Little Round Top(7).

Miles: 7.6 - 8.4
Elevation change: -700 feet

Descend southeast for 0.8 mile until you reach Schneider Camp (8). Don't worry if you don't intersect the buildings at Schneider Camp — that is not necessary. However, you should intersect the groomed trail system of the Kirkwood Cross Country & Snowshoe Center in this area. You may ski through their trail system, but not on their trails unless you have a trail pass.

Miles: 8.4 - 10.4
Elevation change: -400 feet

Ski south and then southeast for 2.0 miles until you reach the end point on Highway 88 (9). You will probably see the highway maintenance station before reaching the end point. Continue southeast from here to reach the end. Again, do not ski on the groomed Nordic trails unless you have a trail pass.

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour