Covered Wagon Peak is a series of rocky cliffs in the Kirkwood Ski Area. It is not prominent, but it is a named summit because of its peculiar formation. It can certainly be a destination in and of itself.
Interesting rock formations making up Covered Wagon Peak
Covered Wagon Peak is named because it is a 700 yard (0.4 mile) long rocky ridge. It rises just west of Emigrant Lake. It is quite noticeable in the area despite its limited prominence.
View north across the ridge
The true summit of Covered Wagon is difficult to ascertain when at the ridge itself. There are three summits that seem to be the same height. However, the USGS notes the highpoint as the northern most summit. The southern summit is perhaps the most impressive.
South summit of Covered Wagon Peak
Covered Wagon Peak is ideally done as a side trip if climbing Thimble Peak
9,805' from the Kirkwood Ski area. It only adds about 1/2 mile to 1 mile total to the trip.
Covered Wagon Peak can essentially be hiked any time of year. In winter, it is a short trip from the top of the Kirkwood Ski Resort. However, if not wanting snow, the best time to hike in this area is late June through October. By late October, snow is likely to return.
There are two direct ways to get to Covered Wagon Peak. The shortest of these is from the Kirkwood Ski Resort. 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.
The Kirkwood Ski area is 5 miles west of Carson Pass along US 88. 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.
The Caples Lake Trailhead at about 7800', is 4 1/2 miles west of the Carson Pass trailhead along US 88. The Trailhead is accessed on the west side of Caples Lake.
The most straightforward way to Covered Wagon Peak is from the Kirkwood Ski Resort. 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 a trail continues towards the base of Thimble Peak. You need to go cross-country towards the lower ridge heading to Covered Wagon Peak. It is very straight forward. The elevation gain to Covered Wagon Peak is about 1,800’ reached in 3 ¼ miles. Add another ¼ mile to ½ mile if exploring all three summits. You can approach these summits from the left side of the ridge, or the right side. The true north summit is best accessed from the right side. The other summits can be approached from either side.
Heading towards Covered Wagon Peak from Kirkwood
From the Caples Lake Trailhead, the trail leads just over 4 miles to Emigrant Lake at 8582'. From the lake head back north and then west up the rocky slope up towards Covered Wagon Peak. The summit is less than a mile away.
The round trip hiking distance is about 9 ½ miles or so, adding another ¼ mile to ½ mile if exploring all three summits. The elevation gain is about 1,900’.
Caples Lake from Covered Wagon Peak
There are no restrictions to hiking or parking at Caples Lake or the Kirkwood Ski Area. Kirkwood can get crowded during ski season, and Covered Wagon Peak is better hiked in early summer or fall when Kirkwood is closed.