Carson Pass to Red Lake
Via "the Canyon"


Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 2.5 miles one-way (2.0 miles round trip for return to Carson Pass)
8600 feet
+500, -1200 feet (+750, -750 feet for return to Carson Pass)
Navigation Road and map
Time Several hours
Season Mid-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.
End Red Lake turnout on Highway 88, 2.3 miles east of Carson Pass. An alternate end for the this tour is to climb back up to Carson Pass.


This tour offers a glimpse of the open, windswept terrain south of Carson Pass, but it's real draw is the short, steep descent down "the canyon" where powder snow often persists due to the northern exposure. Be aware that the canyon is potential avalanche terrain — plan accordingly and take precautions.

You can eliminate the need for a shuttle vehicle by ending the tour by climbing back to Carson Pass. This is described in the mileage log.

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 - 0.9
Elevation change: +150 feet

Ski southeast for 0.4 mile until you reach the ridge top to the north of Elephants Back (3).

Miles: 0.9 - 1.2
Elevation change: +50, -250 feet

Descend east down a very steep slope and then north on mild terrain for a total of 0.3 mile until you reach a saddle (4) southwest of Peak 9002.

Miles: 1.2 - 1.5
Elevation change: -450 feet

Descend north down the canyon for 0.3 mile until you reach snow-covered old Highway 88 (5).

Miles: 1.5 - 2.5
Elevation change: -450 feet

Turn east (right) onto old Highway 88 and descend for 1.0 mile until you reach the parking area at Red Lake (6). As an alternative you can turn west (left) and climb up the road to Carson Pass as described below.

Alternate end at Carson Pass

Miles: 1.5 - 2.0
Elevation change: +250 feet

When you reach old Highway 88 (5) turn west (left) and ascend for 0.5 mile until you reach Carson Pass (7). You will arrive at the pass 100 yards to the east of the Sno-Park. Walk carefully along the highway to the Sno-Park. This section of road passes through potential avalanche terrain.

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