Carson Pass to Caples Lake
Via Winnemucca Lake


Summary

Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 7.7 miles one-way
Starting
Elevation
8600 feet
Cumulative
Elevation
Change
+1150, -1900 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 Dam at west end of Caples Lake on Highway 88. The parking is minimal here and an alternate end is Kirkwood Cross Country and Snowshoe Center at Kirkwood Meadows. Ask at the Center if there is a fee for parking.

A second alternative is to end the tour at the turnout on the south side of Highway 88 0.2 miles 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.


Description

There are a number of interesting tours on the south side of Highway 88 that begin at Carson Pass. This tour, which originates at Carson Pass and terminates at Caples Lake, is one of the most challenging because it covers a wide variety of terrain and requires considerable navigation.

A slight variation of this tour can be found in the Carson Pass to Kirkwood tour, which differs in that it ends with a downhill run on the ski slopes at Kirkwood Ski Resort.

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 - 5.6
Elevation change: -450 feet

Ski north along the west (left) side of the creek for 1.1 miles until you reach the south end of Caples Lake (8).

Miles: 5.6 - 7.7
Elevation change: Nil

Ski along the southwest shore of Caples Lake for 1.1 miles to the west-most dam and Highway 88 (9). Be aware that it is never safe to ski on Caples Lake.

Alternate end at
Kirkwood Cross Country
and Snowshoe Center

Follow one of the two routes below if you are ending the tour at the Kirkwood Cross Country and Snowshoe Center.

North side of Highway 88
At the dam carefully cross to the north side of Highway 88 and then ski 0.4 mile west, loosing 100 feet, until you reach the Center (10). It is not safe to walk this 0.4-mile section of road because the narrow road is often icy and vehicles can lose control as they make the turn at the dam.

South side of Highway 88
This is the safest route by which to ski from the dam to the Center because it crosses the highway in a straight, level section. Climb west from the dam (+100 feet) and then descend (-200 feet) for a total of 0.4 mile until you reach Highway 88 across from the Center. Carefully cross the highway to the Center (10).

Alternate end near
highway maintenance station

Miles: 5.6 - 7.4
Elevation change: +50 feet

From the south end of Caples Lake (8) ski north along the east shore of the lake for 1.8 miles until you reach Highway 88 (11). Be aware that it is never safe to ski on Caples Lake.

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