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Carson Pass Area
Area/Range

Carson Pass Area

 
Carson Pass Area

Page Type: Area/Range

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 38.69010°N / 119.973°W

Object Title: Carson Pass Area

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Mixed, Scrambling, Skiing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 8574 ft / 2613 m

 

Page By: Noondueler

Created/Edited: Feb 25, 2013 / Dec 27, 2013

Object ID: 840148

Hits: 4763 

Page Score: 87.91%  - 26 Votes 

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Overview

 
Approaching storm from Round Top
Approaching storm from Round Top
Carson Pass is the fourth highest auto pass in the Sierra Nevada. It is in the Northern Sierra between Ebbetts Pass to the south and Luther Pass south of Lake Tahoe to the north. Highway 88 crosses the pass. This is a very accessible and popular area for hiking, peak bagging and skiing. It is within the boundaries of Eldorado National Forest. The eastern portion of the extended area of this page is in the Toiyabe National Forest and the area south of the pass is also in the Mokelumne Wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses the pass and there is a good system of trails in the area. The terrain is relatively gentle by Sierra standards with some beautiful lake destinations and virtually all of the peaks can be done in a day or less. The profusion of spring flowers just south of the pass are some of the best to be found in the range. Kirkwood Ski Resort a few miles west of the pass is one of the most popular in the northern Sierra.
For this page I've loosely expanded the boundaries as: Silver Lake to the west, Hope Valley to the north, Highway 89 going north from Markleeville to the east and Blue Lakes to the south.


Getting There

 
Sunrise from Hope Valley
Sunrise from Hope Valley
Winter road closure is rare. Carson Pass is not one of the Trans Sierra Passes that closes for the winter. It is more likely to close for brief periods during and after significant storms than I-80 or HWY50, but is kept open year round. For those traveling to and from the Eastern Sierra, the shortcut over Monitor Pass does close for the winter, but is generally closed for a shorter period than Ebbetts, Sonora, and Tioga Passes.
The passes that do close generally have been closed around December-through early/mid-May. Late October-November through late May/early June closure is possible, but not the recent norm. Thanksgiving drives through these areas have been possible, and even Christmas/New Year's last year, but the latter was exceptional.
Info provided by Sean Reedy

For current road conditions click on this Caltrans link.




From Hwy. 88 out of Stockton: Go northeast up through the west side of the range approximately 100 miles to the pass.
From South Lake Tahoe: From the junction of Hwy. 50 and Hwy. 89 go south on 89 11.5 miles over Luther Pass to the junction with Hwy. 88 in Hope Valley. Go right on 88 (south then west) 8 miles to the pass.
From Hwy. 395: From the junction with Hwy. 89 and 395 (less than 3 miles north of Topaz) go west over Monitor Pass 8 miles to the junction with Hwy 4 coming up from the south. Go right on 89 12 miles to the junction with Hwy. 88. Go right 14.5 miles through Hope Valley and up to the pass.

Red Tape

 
Hawkins Peak from the west...
Hawkins Peak
 
Markleeville Peak from Red Lake Peak south ridge
Markleeville Peak from Red Lake Peak south slope
For red tape info for the Mokelumne Wilderness go to red tape on the Mokelumne Wilderness page and scroll down to the Red Tape section.
For the greater Eldorado National Forest click on Recreation Passes and Permits.
For Toiyabe National Forest passes and permits click here.

For Carson Pass parking fee details in winter sno-park and summer parking as well as  fees and reservations for Woods Lake campground click here.

Camping

 
Northeast from Thimble Peak
Northeast from Thimble Peak
For a comprehensive list of campgrounds in the Eldorado National Forest click here.
For Campgrounds in the Toiyabe National Forest click here
For campgrounds in the Mokelumne Wilderness click on the Mokelumne Wilderness page and scroll down to camping.

Carson Pass Area Trails

 
Red Lake Peak and Elephants Back
Trail to Lake Winnemucca
For a comprehensive list of trails in the Carson Pass Area and South Lake Tahoe area click this page in Trails.com.

Carson Pass Area Peaks and their initial approach routes

North of Carson Pass and west of Hwy. 88:
Little Round Top 9,590': Approach this peak from the Pacific Crest Trail north of Carson Pass
Red Lake Peak 10,063': Approach via the Pacific Crest Tail north of Carson Pass or from Crater Lake to the east via it's trail.
Stevens Peak 10,059': Approach via the Pacific Crest Trail north of Carson Pass or from the Alpine Mine via it's trail up to the east.



Northeast of Carson Pass across Hope Valley and east of Hwy. 88:
Pickett Peak 9,118': Approach from Hwy. 88/89 via Burnside Lake Road.
Hawkins Peak 10,024 : Same as Pickett Peak only a few miles further south on the Burnside Lake Road.



Southeast of Carson Pass:
Markleeville Peak 9,415': Approach via the Blue Lakes Road out of Hope Valley off of Hwy. 88.
Jeff Davis Peak 9,065': Also the Blue Lakes Road out of Hope Valley a mile or 2 south of Markleeville Peak.
The Nipple 9,342': Via Blue Lakes Road 2 miles west of Jeff Davis Peak.




South of Carson Pass:
Elephants Back 9,585': Approach from Carson Pass trailhead south or from the Woods Lake trailhead via the Woods Lake Road south side of Hwy 88 2 miles west of Carson Pass.
Round Top 10,381': Same approach trailheads as Elephants Back.
The Sisters 10,153': The same trailheads as Round Top and Elephants Back.
Fourth of July Peak 9,537': Once again via the Carson Pass trail head or the Woods Lake Trailhead.
Melissa Coray Peak and Peak 9,763 and Peak 9,795 : You guessed it...Carson Pass or Woods Lakes trailheads.
Black Butte 9,013': Woods Lake trailhead
Deadwood Peak 9,846': Approach via Blue Lakes Road. The peak is 2 miles west of Upper Blue Lake.



West of Carson Pass and south of Hwy. 88:
Martin Point 9,260': From the Thunder Mountain trailhead 1.7 miles west of Kirkwood Meadows on the south side of Hwy. 88.
Thunder Mountain 9,410': From the Thunder Mountain trailhead.
Thimble Peak 9,805': From the Thunder Mountain trailhead to the north or the Horse Canyon trailhead .5 mile north of the Silver Lake campground north of Silver Lake on the east side of Hwy, 88.
Covered Wagon Peak 9,565': Easiest approach via the pack trail off the southwest shore of Caples Lake. In just over 3 miles the trail passes right below the northeast side of the peak before it crosses a pass.
Black Butte 9,031': The easiest approach is directly off trail west southwest about .75 mile from the Woods Lake Campground at the end of the Woods Lake Road south of Hwy. 88.


Current weather and forecast

 
Winnemucca Lake and Elephants Back, Toiyabe Nat. Forest
Winnemucca Lake and Elephants Back
 
Elephants Back, Round Top and The Sisters from Caples Lake
Elephants Back, Round Top and The Sisters from Caples Lake
Click here for the current weather and forecast for the nearest town Markleeville.

Etymology

 
Red Lake Peak and Stevens Peak from Pickett Peak
Red Lake and Stevens Peaks from Pickett Peak
 
Hikers descending to Carson Pass from Red Lake Peak
Hikers decending to Carson Pass from Red Lake Peak
Christopher (Kit) Carson (1809-1868), a mountain man, scout, soldier and Indian agent. He was with John C Freemont on Freemont's second exploring expedition; the party crossed the Sierra at Carson Pass in February 1844. Freemont named the river for Carson; the other "Carson" names derive from that. "Carson River" appears for the first time on the Pruess map of 1848. "Carson Pass" and "Carson Canyon" are on the Britton and Rey's map of California by George H. Goddard, 1857.
In the 19th century the Carson Pass route was known as the "Amador and Carson Valley Road." The Carson Range was at one time called "The Rose Valley Range;" it was changed to it's present name by a BGN decision in 1939.
-Place Names of the Sierra Nevada- Peter Browning

Freemont and the first crossing of Carson Pass.

 
skiing - red lake peak
Skiing Red Lake Peak
 
Rob is advancing towards the...
Ascending Elephants Back in winter

Click on this page for a brief history of the first crossing of Carson Pass.

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
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SeanReedyWinter Road Closure is Rare

SeanReedy

Voted 9/10

Carson Pass is not one of the Trans Sierra Passes that closes for the winter. It is more likely to close for brief periods during and after significant storms than I-80 or HWY50, but is kept open year round. For those traveling to and from the Eastern Sierra, the shortcut over Monitor Pass does close for the winter, but is generally closed for a shorter period than Ebbetts, Sonora, and Tioga Passes.



By the way, the past several years, the passes that do close generally have been closed around December-through early/mid-May. Late October-November through late May/early June closure is possible, but not the recent norm. Thanksgiving drives through these areas have been possible, and even Christmas/New Year's last year, but the latter was exceptional.



Link: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/clsdlst.htm
Posted Mar 1, 2013 2:06 pm
NoonduelerRe: Winter Road Closure is Rare

Noondueler

Hasn't voted

Thanks Sean!

I never go up there in the colder months. Just made the usual assumption that it was like Tioga or Sonora. Should have considered it better. What with Kirkwood in the area etc.. I'm just going to copy and paste your words here and give you credit for the info on the page because it's a very good description! Hope that's ok.

Cheers,

Windsor
Posted Mar 1, 2013 11:33 pm
SeanReedyRe: Winter Road Closure is Rare

SeanReedy

Voted 9/10

Windsor,



I'm glad to make a small contribution to a page by someone whose work has led me into fun areas...I'd just put your caltrans link and note that HWY 88 is a year round highway with possible brief closures or chain requirements during and after heavy snowstorms due to snow and avalanche risk. If you want to include details about travel over Monitor Pass to the Eastern Sierra with general closure dates, put my caltrans link as well and/or mention checking HWY 89 (Monitor Pass). No need to credit me, but I'm fine either way.
Posted Mar 2, 2013 12:10 am
OOGBlack Butte

OOG

Voted 10/10

I added a page for Black Butte. When you get a chance, could you make a link for the page like you did for the other peaks in the region. Thanks.
Posted Nov 20, 2013 1:31 am
NoonduelerRe: Black Butte

Noondueler

Hasn't voted

Thanks for adding it. It's linked. I was wondering when someone would get around to it.
Posted Nov 20, 2013 11:05 pm

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