I had a great opportunity Monday to join a group of friends on a day trip to one of our favorite Alpine County Lakes. Winnemucca Lake is a well know trail to the local area as it provides a quality hike for all levels and has multiple routes and several lakes to enjoy in a day hike. Winnemucca Lake is located in the Mokelumne Wilderness and can be accessed off HWY 88 just before Caples lake on the Carson Pass. For todays Day hike we choose the Carson Pass PCT station access, but so that everyone is aware there is also two different routes starting from Wood Lake just below this location. The Hike to Winnemucca Lake is a great family hike. We often hear of friends that take visitors on this day hike because of its easy access and easy Terrain. Overall the hike to the Lake is approx. 2.5 miles and along the way you get to hike both Forest and High Alpine Meadow type environments, plus pass Frog Lake about half way in which makes a great stopping point if you need a rest.
(Hint: if you stop at Frog lake take extra 5 minutes and walk to the back side of the lake, it over looks Red Lake and gives you a great view of Hope Valley.)
Hiking to Winnemucca Lake you are on the PCT, Pacific Crest Trail, for the first half of the hike, then you will take a right at the trail post and finish your hike to the lake. This loop if you have time will give you access to 4th of July lake, Round Hill Lake, and Woods Lake all accessible in a day hike of various lengths)Hiking Winnemucca Lake is a great hike that takes you over 9,000 feet in elevation. So most people find that stopping and relaxing at this lake a much needed break. Most people will turn around and head back, but today our team took a little adventure to see a couple sights my son’s and I had discovered last year on this hike.
Our first destination in our exploring took us up the eastside of the lake, up about 200 yards from the shores of Winnemucca Lake, to another alpine lake / pond. Not sure this has a name but it is a great place to pitch a tent or to have a lunch. Gives you a great view of Winnemucca Lake and provides you with a place away from most hikers that are not aware of its placement.
After a quick lunch here I told the team about a great bluff/cliff that overlooked the Mokelumne Wilderness and the Blue lakes region, the Bluff is located above the PCT Trail and is about 3/4 of a mile southeast of Winnemucca Lake. We decided to go ahead and make this a full adventure since no one in the party had ever explored around the lake.
The chance to explore around our mountain lakes in the Sierra Mountain range is one I really enjoy. This path to the bluff crosses over a Boulder Field and Alpine meadow that you can tell is filled with Snow melt water in early spring. The walking is fairly easy but you need to watch your step with all the loose rock. As you enter this Alpine Valley follow the valley along the hill side, you will start to see the horizon change and can tell that there is a drop-off ahead. Take the route of the left or east as you cross the Meadow and at the very end you will climb about 100 feet around the edge to the hill side to this Bluff above the PCT/Hope valley region.
The views from this bluff are incredible. You can see the edge of Hope Valley, A huge Alpine Meadow, The PCT trail for miles, The Blue Lakes region and in the distance the Eastern Sierra’s off HWY 4 and the Carson Wilderness region. After our team sat here for a bit and took in the beauty of this region, we headed back for the day. Following the same route back to Winnemucca Lake and back out to Carson Pass and HWY 88. On our trip today we meet several people who had hiked into 4th of July Lake for the weekend and camped out for a few days. This will be another adventure we share at a later date. Hope you enjoy this hike and remember to explore a little on your next adventure.