OverviewMelissa Coray Peak and Peak 9795 are two summits in the Mokelumne Wilderness located west of Round Top 10,335’. They are located less than half a mile apart, and share a saddle at 9693’. Thus they warrant a shared page.
At 9,763’, Melissa Coray Peak is a sub-peak of Peak 9795. It is perhaps named because it is a prominent peak directly south above Emigrant Lake with a small electric tower on top. Peak 9795 is a more prominent bump on the southeast side of the lake. It has a prominence of just over 500' between it and Thimble Peak 9,805'.
Both peaks are easily accessible via the Carson Pass or Woods Lake trailheads to the northeast or from Caples Lake or Kirkwood Ski area from the northwest. From the summits, there are great views all around of the surrounding peaks, including Round Top and The Sisters. However, there are also great views to the south, with High Sierra Peaks in view in the Northern Yosemite area.
The best time to hike in this area is late June through October. The area gets lots of snow in spring, making for excellent waterfalls along the trail in June and July, but plenty of snow on the ground in June - outside of heavy drought years. By late October, snow is likely to return. The area is just southeast of the Kirkwood Ski Resort.
Getting ThereThere are four trailheads for these peaks. From the northeast there are two. The first is Carson Pass. Getting to Carson Pass is easy. From Highway 395 south of Carson City, Nevada, head to Minden, Nevada. Just before entering town, take Highway 88 as it winds south towards Carson Pass in California. It is about 28 miles from the 395/88 junction in Minden to Carson Pass. To get to Woods Lake, go past Carson Pass for 1.7 miles west, and a paved road is on your left (south side of the road). The paved road heads shortly to a parking lot.
From the north-northwest there are two trailheads. The shortest of these is from the Kirkwood Ski area. A longer route is accessible from Caples Lake. This route is interesting because it goes along the west side of Caples Lake and then goes to Emigrant Lake.
To get to the Kirkwood Ski area drive 5 miles past Carson Pass (heading west). Take the road into the ski resort, and drive until it loops around at the edge of the ski area. Park near the base of the ridge on the eastern side of ski area. It is about 100 miles from Sacramento, California via US 50 to 88 East.
To get to the Caples Lake Trailhead at about 7800', drive about 4 1/2 miles past the Carson Pass trailhead or 1/2 mile east of Kirkwood. The Trailhead is accessed on the west side of Caples Lake.
Route InformationNortheast routes:
From Carson Pass at 8,650’ hike about 1.5 miles to Winnemucca Lake, and follow another mile to Round Top Lake, 9,350’. From the Woods Lake Trailhead at just over 8,200’, take the road on the right which leads to a trail. The trail soon splits ahead, with one trail heading to Winnemucca Lake, and the other Round Top Lake. Follow the trail to Round Top Lake. There are other trails along the way that head down to Woods Lake. Avoid these, and stay on the main trail, which steadily ascends up to Round Top Lake in about 2.5 miles.
Once at Round Top Lake, a trail post points the way to Fourth of July Lake. Take the trail for just about 2/3rds of a mile, and a spur trail heads up Fourth of July Peak. You can skirt Fourth of July Peak to the right, but it is better to just head to the summit. From here you can see a straightforward way over to Peak 9795.
Peak 9795 is about ¾ miles away from Fourth of July Peak. Stay at the top of the ridge on the right. Once on Peak 9795, you must climb over rocks towards the summit. It is pretty much class 2 scrambling. There are basically two summits right across from each other, both basically the same height.
Once on the summit of Peak 9795, Melissa Coray is the obvious peak just to the west with the small electric tower. Melissa Coray Peak actually only rises 70 feet above the saddle it shares with Peak 9795. It is an easy four-tenths of a mile walk further.
Once on Melissa Coray Peak, you can see Thimble Peak 9,805’ to the northwest. This is also a worthy peak if you have time. It is about 1.3 miles further. There is no clear trail connecting the two peaks, however, it is pretty straightforward. The only issue is that approaching Thimble Peak from this side will probably involve difficult rock climbing; although Class III approaches are likely with good route finding.
The total round trip hiking distance from Carson Pass and Woods Lake are basically the same. It is about 8 2/3rd miles. Elevation gain from Carson Pass is about 1,650’ (assuming you summit Fourth of July Peak on the way) and from Woods Lake it is about 2,050’.
The most straightforward way to Peak 9795 and/or Melissa Coray Peak is from the Kirkwood Ski area. Starting on the southeast edge of the ski area, take the ridge on the east side of Kirkwood. A trail heads up the slope, eventually reaching a dirt road. In about 1.7 miles you reach Point 8947 and then you need to go cross-country towards the ridge heading to Melissa Coray Peak, passing the rocky Covered Wagon Peak 9,565' on the way. Melissa Coray Peak is about 3.75 miles from the trailhead. Peak 9795 is another half mile. The elevation gain to Melissa Coray is about 2,100', adding another 100' to Peak 9795.
From the Caples Lake Trailhead, the trail leads just over 4 miles to Emigrant Lake at 8582'. From the lake there are any number of class 2 to class 4 routes you can take up to either peak. But the easiest way is to head up from the east side of the lake. A slight use trail heads up towards Peak 9795. But pretty shortly the trail is gone, and you just meander up the slope until you reach the peak. It is about 5 miles to Peak 9795 this way. Melissa Coray is another half mile. The round trip mileage is about 11 miles, gaining a little over 2,000' to Peak 9795 and adding another 100' or so to Melissa Coray.
Red TapeDuring the summer a $5.00 day use fee is charged at the Carson Pass and Woods Lake trailheads. Caples Lake and Kirkwood have no fees or restrictions.
CampingCamping information for the area is provided on the Mokelumne Wilderness SP page and others SP pages in the Mokelumne Wilderness.
External LinksCarson Pass Management Area