Hiking/Backcountry Skiing on
Round Top and the Carson Pass Area
Vitals elev.-10,380 Rock-Granite,
Shale, and Igneous
Click here for Topo
The Carson Pass area provides
some of the best winter recreation in the Tahoe area. The North side of
the road holds peaks like Red
Lake and Stevens
Peak. The South side holds treasures like Round Top,
Elephant's Back, the Sisters, Moon Couloir, Life on the Edge and more.
Both areas are also very popular in the summer as lakes, flowers, and
views are abundant. In addition, the Pacific Crest Trail bisects the
This has always been one of my favorite areas. Each year a group of
friends camp underneath Round Top for what has always ended up being an
epic adventure. There are a number of tours that can be started at
Carson Pass and ended at a car dropped at Kirkwood,
Red Lake, Hope Valley, or even Blue Lakes. Heading up the trail towards
Round Top is a relatively easy three mile hike or skin. In winter it is
basically a long left hand traverse. As you head out note the lines
directly across the small valley you are traversing around. They
provide excellent terrain for low visibility days here. Once you make
it to Elephant's Back, your choices begin. It's at this point you
should decide whether you are heading to Round Top proper or points
beyond, the East Ridge and the bowls above Winnemucca, or to Elephant's
Back. On clear days this is all layed out for you to see. One of my
favorite tours is to head to the East Ridge of Round Top. Ski off the
backside and then cut left (east) into the Forestdale Creek area. From
here you can yo-yo ski your way back to Dead Tree bowl above Red Lake
(where your car is hopefully waiting).
Carson Pass requires five dollars for parking in summer, and a sno-park
permit in winter.
When entering the backcountry, proper precautions should be taken,
beacon and the know-how to use it, shovel, compass or GPS,
information, and common sense. Click here for the latest
avalanche advisory info. You can also find more info on our
Ski Aware, It's Big out there.
A great resource for the rich
the Carson Pass area.