Hike to Round Top Peak

Carson Pass

Distance: 9 miles. 1,821' elevation gain. Duration: 4-6 hrs (depending on pace and time spent at the peak). Colorful wildflowers, crystal blue lakes, and great views.

This hike begins at Carson Pass which is accessible from Highway 88. The trail leaves from the parking lot (parking requires a fee of $5) and is easy to follow. After about a mile, you'll pass Frog Lake on the left, which is a nice place to stop for a quick snack.

Continue along the trail and stay to the right at the next junction for Winnemucca Lake. The trail climbs very gradually and you'll pass Elephants Back (aptly named) on the left before arriving at the beautiful Winnemucca Lake. From there, stay on the trail, which veers right and switchbacks a little up to Round Top Lake. Once there, turn left and begin the climb! After a little you'll come to the saddle between Round Top and The Sisters from which there are also some great views- stay left to Round Top. Here, the trail becomes harder to distinguish but essentially just keep going up.

When you get close to the top, the trail gets steeper and climbing with the use of your hands may be necessary to reach the peak. It is well worth it though as the summit offers a spectacular 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Enjoy the views and lunch before heading back down! If you aren't pressed for time, definitely consider hanging out a bit at Winnemucca Lake on the way back.

Pack List

  • $5 for parking
  • Water
  • Lunch/snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses/hat
  • Camera
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RT Distance 9 Miles
Elevation Gain 1821 Feet
Activities Chillin, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Choose the "safer" route!

this is a great hike- we started at woods lake (a few miles b4 carson pass visitor center off hwy 88) and went up the round top side - lots of creek runoff, wildflowers and waterfalls this time of year) there are more switchbacks on this side and it's a bit steep in some places- i prefer to go up the steeper sides but that's just me. The loop trail for just the lakes is well marked and easy to follow -just make sure you don't miss the junction from winnemucca back to woods lake like we did or you have to hike on hwy 88 from the visitor center back to the car. it actually wasn't that bad as there is an old hwy that runs parallel to 88 and was much safer but it did add 2 miles. anyway- the summit itself is confusing bc there are sooo many paths- once you hit round top lake you follow the trail around the left side of the lake-at the base of the gully between the 3 sisters and round top you follow the trail up the LEFT side (you can see the trail on the saddle as it leads to the base of the rocky summit)- this is the easy part- you can see where you're going (up) and the trail is clear. poles make it easier as the surface can be a bit slippery. once you get to the base there are many trails to choose from- take the one on the FAR LEFT!! the others are very precarious and slippery- we know bc we tried them all (except the far left) and somehow made it up to the false summit without dying, on the way down we found the far left trail (now on our right) and just laughed bc it was clearly soooo much easier and safer than the route we chose. we did not make it to the true summit- the false summit has a wind shelter made out of rocks and the views are stunning - to get to the true summit you have to walk across a very exposed ridge, climb down a class 3 scramble into a crevasse and back up the other side. i am terrified of heights and could barely handle sitting on the ridge, much less walking on it. a fellow hiker was on the true summit trying to talk me through it, but i just couldn't stomach it. the wildflowers on the lake loop part are spectacular and from the 'summit' you can see hwy 88, caples lake, frog lake, woods lake, round top and a few others on the back side that i couldn't identify. definitely worth it. just be sure to pick the safe route going up!!

What A Fun Hike and Epic At The Top!!!!

Super fun hike yesterday to round top peak!!!! Epic views and the surrounding lakes are beautiful!!! I will be back to do a sunrise hike.


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