OverviewSierra 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.
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.
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 Tapered 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.
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 TrailsTrails.com.
Carson Pass Area Peaks and their initial approach routes
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.
Waterhouse Peak 9,497' Via Luther Pass.
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 forecastClick here for the current weather and forecast for the nearest town Markleeville.
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.
Click on this page for a brief history of the first crossing of Carson Pass.
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