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Stories from the valley

Spring Snow Adventures Await You at Carson Pass

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

The spring showers that have blessed the valley have also yielded some much needed snow in the Sierra. An additional blessing for those of us who enjoy winter activities is that this welcome moisture has refreshed the surface of the snowpack and provided an opportunity to enjoy some wonderful spring skiing or snowshoeing.

One of my favorite places for backcountry skiing is Carson Pass. The scenery is breathtaking, with open meadows, alpine lakes, and majestic peaks. It also has offerings for outdoor adventurers of all levels of expertise.

My friend and I parked at the Meiss Meadow Sno-Park, crossed Highway 88, and started out through the small meadow. Heading due south by winding through open areas of untracked snow, we intersected the main trail after about 15 minutes and followed the tracks toward Lake Winnemucca. 

person snowshoeing in carson pass

After a short time, Round Top Peak was visible against an azure blue, cloudless sky. The temperature was so warm that we were in T-shirts, and the snow was perfect spring snow—about two inches of slush on a firm base.

person snowshoeing in carson pass

We reached our lunch spot at Lake Winnemucca in about an hour, chose a couple of flat-topped, warm rocks from the large selection, and enjoyed a leisurely picnic overlooking the lake, which is beginning to thaw after the winter season. It was awe-inspiring to watch the impressive downhill runs made by expert skiers descending from the peak. 

Then came time for the return trip, which is wonderfully downhill the entire way. There were some spots to practice our turns while skiing across the meadows or through the trees. By following the tracks we’d left on the way in, we were back at the parking lot in no time.

person snowshoeing in carson pass

Most people start their adventures at the nearby Carson Pass Sno-Park, which is a little over two hours from Sacramento on Highway 88. You will need a Sno-Park pass, available online by clicking here. At the beginning of the marked trail, there are some blue diamond markers, but don’t follow them; they take you to Woods Lake. Just follow the tracks until you can see the peaks, and then choose your own path, if you desire. Be prepared for winter travel with some extra clothes and food. Be aware that there is no cell reception, and the area is not patrolled.

I hope you get to enjoy this beautiful area before the snow melts.