Carson Pass to Kirkwood


Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 6.4 miles one-way
8600 feet
+2350, -1550 feet
Navigation Marked trail, map and compass
Time Full day
Season Late 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.
End Main Lodge at Kirkwood Ski Resort on Highway 88.


This tour from Carson Pass to Kirkwood Ski Resort begins in the popular area south of Carson Pass where most people make Winnemucca Lake or Round Top Lake their destination. You will find yourself quite alone if you leave these behind and head for Kirkwood.

The first 4.5 miles are identical to the Carson Pass to Caples Lake Via Winnemucca Lake tour. Which route you choose will no doubt depend on whether you savor your solitude or relish linking turns on the groomed downhill slopes.

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 - 4.2
Elevation change: +50, -1000 feet

Ski northwest down easy terrain, then southwest to a gully and finally climb for a total of 1.5 miles until you reach a small saddle (6).

Miles: 4.2 - 4.5
Elevation change: +50, -150 feet

Ski west, cross a creek and then traverse for a total of 0.3 mile until you reach the Emigrant Lake drainage (7). Emigrant Lake is to the south.

Miles: 4.5 - 4.7
Elevation change: -50 feet

Traverse northwest below steep terrain for 0.2 mile until you reach the clearing at Emigrant Valley (8). The bottoms of chairlifts 3 and 4 of Kirkwood Ski Resort are located in the clearing.

Miles: 4.7 - 5.2
Elevation change: +400 feet

Climb northwest for 0.5 mile to the top of chairlift 3 (9). Do not ski on the groomed slopes as you ascend.

Miles: 5.2 - 6.4
Elevation change: -850 feet

Descend the intermediate and then beginner ski runs for 1.2 miles to the Main Lodge (10) at Kirkwood Ski Resort.

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