Fourth of July Lake

The final destination of many backpackers off the Carson Pass. Fourth of July lake is hidden from the main public down a long and fairly steep decline from round top peaks. It sits at the edge of a canyon that separates Round top peaks and Deadwood peak just West of Blue Lakes

This bowl shaped area is a great place to escape the city lights and disappear into the Mokelumne Wilderness for a weekend.

How To get here:

Three possible routes:

  • Caron Pass / Pct trail head hike past frog Lake, Winnemucca Lake, round Top Lake and down to Fourth of July lake. 7 mile hike from the pass. Easiest route based on elevation gain from trailhead
  • Woods Lake to Fourth of July Lake is most popular route. Travel behind Woods Lake up to Round Top Lake and then back down in to Fourth of July. A four mile one way trip with plenty of elevation change for your hike.
  • Less traveled option from Upper Blue Lake on the old summit City trailhead – Travel up to fourth of July lake along Summit city creek old mining country. Starting from Forestdale Divide, the trail leads downhill through meadows and open forest past an area that was once an active mining community. The trail continues to the junction of the trail leading uphill to Fourth of July Lake. We have not traveled this route yet, but we are told it is very picturesque route. trail starts at far north end of Upper Blue.
  • One off trail option is to also hike into emigrant lake from Caples lake and after reaching Emigrant lake go off trail over the ridge line on the east connecting with the fourth of July trail just past Round Top lake. This route is for seasoned hikers who understand terrain and off trail navigation.

Permits are mandatory for entry into the Mokelumne Wilderness year round for overnight use.

The permit system allows the Forest Service to inform visitors of their responsibilities for preserving the wilderness resource, gather important recreation use data, and to limit use where necessary. Permits can also be helpful in locating people during emergencies. Organized commercial or institutional groups will also need an Outfitter-Guide permit: contact the local Ranger Station for more information.

Overnight Permits: Required year-round.

Day-Use Permits: None.

Maximum group size: 12 people for day-use, and 8 people for overnight use.

  • If you have a larger group than is permitted, reduce the number of people, split the group to visit different areas, or visit an area which permits larger numbers. You are not permitted to camp or travel within one mile of a related group.

Other Permit Information:

  • Only one permit is required per group and must remain with someone in the party at all times.
  • Each permit is good for one trip only.
  • You must enter at the trailhead designated on your permit.

Campfires: NOT ALLOWED in the Carson Pass Management Area (CPMA). Camp stoves are permitted with a valid California Campfire Permit. Note: Fire restrictions are in place for the entire Eldorado National Forest.

How to Obtain a Permit

Carson Pass Management Area (CPMA): (Lake Winnemucca, Round Top Lake, and 4th of July Lake) and the Eldorado National Forest portion of the Mokelumne Wilderness:  

Email: requesting a permit. A fillable permit will be emailed to you with instructions. Fill out the permit, print, sign, and email to back to

Virtual office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and permits can only be requested/created during regular business hours. Offices are closed on Federal Holidays and weekends. Please, email during regular business hours; planning your trip before the weekend.

Carson Pass Information Station & the Amador Ranger District Office: The Station at the pass and the office on Silver Drive in Pioneer, CA will remain closed for the remainder of the 2020 season. No permits are being issued in person.

Parking: A Snow Park permit to park is required for parking at Carson Pass and the Meiss Trailheads from November 1 through April 30. Please have the permit placed on dashboard of vehicle. Purchase and print from the website, do not relay on vendors being open and selling. Call the vendor first. This is a California state managed program. CHP will be patrolling the parking lots ($94.50 fine), and Cal Trans will be plowing. Keep a close eye on the Cal Trans chain control and road closure website, and the NOAA-7 Day Forecast

Snow Camping: CPMA must have a minimum of 12 inches of snow on the ground to snow camp. Carson Pass- Snowshoeing & Cross Country Skiing information can be found here. 

Group size: Limit 8 people per permit, and one permit per person. Day hiking, limit 12 people. 

Camping spot: 200’ away from water, do not cause resources damage, stay in an existing tent pad. 

Carson Pass Management: No Campfires are allowed! Camp stoves okay with valid California State campfire permit. Ready for

Frog Lake is open for day hiking but not overnight backpacking. This is considered part of the CPMA area, but is closed to overnight camping to preserve the shoreline.

Winter Snow Camping at Frog Lake is allowed once the snowpack is 12 inches deep. 

Woods Lake is open for day hiking but not overnight backpacking. This Lake is a developed area with a developed campground, day use area, and has private leased cabins. Overnight camping is only allowed at the Woods Lake developed campground (closed for the season). 

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