Winnemucca Lake


Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 3.6 miles round trip
8600 feet
+550, -150 feet
Navigation Marked trail and map
Time Half day
Season December through April
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Carson Pass
Start Carson Pass Sno-Park on Highway 88.


The tour to Winnemucca Lake is very popular and the first part of longer tours in the area including one-way and loop tours. The windswept route offers wonderful scenery as you traverse along a bench to the west of the Sierra Crest. After passing through trees you end the tour to the lake in open terrain where the west-facing slope is often wind-packed and the skiing less than optimal.

At Winnemucca Lake you will find yourself at the base of Round Top. This area is very popular with telemark skiers in spring time; they come to revel in the corn-snow and the peak's steep slopes. However, the lake itself, located in a small depression, is somewhat anti-climatic although the route to it is worth the trip.

Once at the lake you will be tempted to stop, eat lunch and return. Instead, take the time to visit the ridge top to the east of the lake and take in the view of the Forestdale Creek drainage below. The most obvious significant extension of this tour is to climb west onto the northwest spur of Round Top and then descend to Round Top Lake.

Blue diamond markers lead from Carson Pass toward Winnemucca Lake but turn west and away from the lake near the Mokelumne Wilderness boundary. Do not plan on following them since they are hard to spot.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.5
Elevation change: +300, -50 feet

From Carson Pass Sno-Park (1) ski south into the trees and climb for approximately 0.5 mile until you reach more open and level terrain (2). Don't get discouraged — the first little bit is the most difficult.

Miles: 0.5 - 1.8
Elevation change: +250, -100 feet

Continue skiing south and traverse the open slopes on the west side of Elephant Back for 1.3 miles until you reach Winnemucca Lake (3), which lies in a depression below Round Top.

Miles: 1.8 - 3.6
Elevation change: +150, -450 feet

Retrace the route for 1.8 miles back to the trailhead (1).

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