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Stories from the valley

Late Spring Snow Trips

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

With the great winter we’ve had and the high water content of the Sierra snow, there’s still time to squeeze in another spring skiing/snowshoeing/hiking outing. The warm weather, long days, and dense snowpack makes is a perfect time to venture out. However, since the weather has been warm, you will have to go a bit higher to find the snow. Highway 88 is the perfect road to adventure.

Once spot that is excellent is Tragedy Spring. At an elevation of nearly 8000 feet, the remaining snowpack is adequate for winter travel. To find the trailhead, go east on Highway 88 about 2.5 miles past the Iron Mountain Sno-Park, and park in the turnout on the north side of the road. Head north from the highway and up to the top of the ridge for a spectacular view of Pyramid Peak and the drainage from the South Fork of the American River.

As you survey the splendor before you, you’ll see where fingers of the ridge descend into the river drainage. Now, the decision is up to you. Choose a direction and explore. There are wide open areas to practice your turns or just enjoy an unencumbered view of this gorgeous area. However, there are no established trails here, so you’ll need to remember how to get back to your vehicle.

If more adventure is your goal, continue along Highway 88 to Carson Pass and park at the Sno-Park at the pass. Here you will most likely find tracks in the snow from hikers, snowshoers, and/or skiers. This popular spot will offer a rewarding day outdoors with an added bonus: you won’t encounter many other travelers.

By following the tracks, you’ll travel through the peaceful forest to finally emerge with a fantastic view of Round Top Peak. Then, the destination will be wherever you decide. Winnemucca Lake is still frozen and provides a great place for lunch. The views of the adventurous back-country skiers and boarders descending from the peak is thrilling, or maybe you’ll climb it and join them.

The snow conditions are currently good, but the surface is beginning to sun-cup, so be careful in areas where this has occurred. Information on Tragedy Spring can be found here, and information on the Sno-Park and trailhead at Carson Pass can be found here.

Enjoy the wonderful spring conditions in our beautiful Sierra Nevada.