Round Top Lake


Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 5.4 miles round trip
8600 feet
+1050, -1050 feet
Navigation Marked trail and map
Time Most of a day
Season December through April
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Carson Pass and Caples Lake
Start Carson Pass Sno-Park on Highway 88.


Round Top Lake is located only 0.9 mile beyond Winnemucca Lake but adds a 500-foot climb. This straight forward extension of the Winnemucca Lake tour provides improved vistas including down Round Top Lake's drainage of cleaver-like Black Butte. This drainage is part of the Winnemucca Lake and Lost Cabin Mine Loop tour.

The barren slope that you ascend to Round Top Lake, which faces east and is hidden from the winter's sun by Round Top, can provide you with an excellent downhill return run in either winter or spring when the conditions are right. The slope is continuous, but not overly steep in any place.

Image looking back at Winnemucca Lake on route to Round Top Lake
Winnemucca Lake from climb to Round Top Lake

But be aware that Round Top Lake is notorious for strong winds; don't be surprised if you need warmer clothes by the time you reach it.

Round Top Lake is also a stop on the Carson Pass to Caples Lake Via Winnemucca Lake tour and the Carson Pass to Kirkwood tour. Both of these tours are one-way and offer net elevation losses and more navigational challenge.

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 - 2.5
Elevation change: +500, -100 feet

Cross the outlet creek at Winnemucca Lake and climb west up the barren slope for 0.7 mile until you reach the northwest spur of Round Top (4). Be aware that the steep slopes of Round Top are susceptible to avalanche.

Miles: 2.5 - 2.7
Elevation change: -50 feet

Descend southwest for 0.2 mile until you reach Round Top Lake (5).

Miles: 2.7 - 5.4
Elevation change: +300, -1050 feet

Retrace the route for 2.7 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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