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Stories from the valley

Wildflowers at Carson Pass via Round Top Lake

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

Many people are visiting the Carson Pass area now as the wildflowers are at their peak. While the display this year is less than last year because of the drier winter we had, a hike through beautiful alpine backdrops sprinkled with patches of color provides a welcome relief in our current stressful environment.

I started out at Woods Lake and hiked up to Round Top Lake. Although I encountered one energetic family with young children, this is more of an intermediate hike best suited for adults because you climb 1,200 ft in 2.5 miles. However, the reward is great. 

Starting out through a red fir forest, you climb steadily, and the views quickly open up. After about one mile, you reach the Lost Cabin Mine, a turn-of-the-century gold mine with the ruins of a few cabins and a couple of old vehicles. 

As the trail continues upward, the trees change to hemlocks with their characteristic droopy tops. Now the wildflowers start making their appearance as you pass through wildflower accented meadows with views of The Sisters peeking through the trees. 

person hiking trail overlooking a lake

My goal was Round Top Lake, a beautiful alpine lake. This is a great lunch spot with whitebark pines as your companions and the sound of a glacial melt creek providing nature’s soothing melody. My companion took a bracing dip in the lake, a daring feat reserved for those of robust constitution.

Heading back via Lake Winnemucca makes this trek a loop. Heading down, there are wonderful views and more patches of wildflowers. After passing Lake Winnemucca, turn left for the final leg of the trip to Woods Lake. This last section of the hike rewarded us with the sound of briskly running water and the best wildflower display of the entire trip.

For more information, please click here. It’s best to arrive early because this is a popular hike at a busy time of the season. Parking at Woods Lake is $8 per vehicle, cash only. We found other hikers to be very considerate and observing physical distancing, even stepping off of the trail, if necessary. Many carried masks for when they passed other hikers.

I hope you have a wonderful time enjoying this beautiful area.