Back to index Scout Carson Lake Hike
Trip Date:  06/17/2021

: 11.1 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1900'

Group Size: 5
Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard   Strenuous
Scout Carson Hike Route
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Scout Carson Lake Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 40.796, W 120 06.969     End Coordinates:   Same as starting coordinates.
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Park at the Horse Canyon trailhead just to the east of Silver Lake, approximately 2 miles west of Thunder Mountain trailhead on the south side of Highway 88. 
Hazards of Note:   In the spring and early summer there will be water on the trail at times, but in the later part of the year expect a dry trip until you reach the lake.

Crowd Factor:   Negligible.  For the first two miles you might run into people coming down from Thunder Mountain or up from Silver Lake, but past this on the way toward Scout Carson you will most like not run into anyone.  
General Notes:
From the parking area south on the Horse Canyon trail, the first couple of miles of which we found have been recently and impressively improved compliments of the Mother Lode Trail Stewardship.  There were numerous trees dropped and cleared from the trail, it had been recently graded and was a good 4-5 feet wide in most of the sections along this early section.
A couple of miles from the trailhead you will reach the junction with the trail that comes down from Thunder Mountain, which is still signed with the embarrassing misspelling of the old name of Squaw Ridge (now Hungalelti.)   From here the trail passed out of the tree cover that you have been walking through up to this point, and the views to the west of Silver Lake, Granite Lake, the Machado Postpiles and the extent of Hungalelti Ridge are amazing.   We found the flowers starting to bloom in abundance, and as the trail continued to climb we passed along the base of Thumble Peak, Covered Wagon Peak, and almost to Melissa Coray Peak before we reached the turnoff to Scout Carson Lake about 1/2 a mile before we would have had to climb up onto the ridge.
The trail to Scout Carson Lake is typically not difficult to follow, but there was still a number of sections of snow on the ground which caused us to have to find our way to the lake.   Since it is only about 4/10s of a mile it wasn't difficult, but even on the way back from the lake later it was easy to lose track of the trail in spots.
The lake itself is a pleasant and peaceful destination, surrounded by trees and granite on the south and west sides.   There was an obvious campsite in the northeast corner of the lake with a large downed tree that made a perfect spot to eat lunch and enjoy the area. 

Some of the amazing trail maintenance that has been done on this early section of the Horse Canyon Trail by the Mother Lode Trail Stewardship group. Their efforts are greatly appreciated. Amazing trail maintenance
Devil's Corral and Deadwood Peak from the Evergreen Trail. Trail junction
An early look back at Silver Lake and Highway 88 in the distance as we climb out of the forest after the first few miles. Silver Lake
Lots of water on the trail this time of year, with at least four good crossings along the way to the lake. Water Crossing
Views along the trail were amazing, including this spectacular look toward Melissa Coray Peak about three miles ahead of us. Melissa Coray ahead
Almost exactly 5 miles into the hike is the signed junction to Scout Carson Lake, where you will make a hard turn to the west and reach your destination in just almost a half mile. Junction
Snow patches obscured much of the trail and there was one swampy meadow to traverse.   However, the going is pretty easy along this section. Meadow Crossing
Scout Carson Lake is very pretty in its isolated location, and doesn't appear to get many visitors.   A worthy overnight spot or base camp to further explore the immediate surroundings. The Lake
Walking a little toward the west end of the lake provided a different perspective on the little lake. Another Look
Just adjacent to a pleasant camping spot is this downed tree that offered a nice lunch spot with a great view of Scout Carson Lake. Lunch spot
A nice view of Thimble Peak, part of the Kirkwood ski area that lies just on the other side of it. The Thimble
On the way back down Phil presented an alternative way to take the dog for a walk. Walking the dog
Lots of open trail along this section of the hike, just skirting Thimble Peak to the East. Open Trail
Looking north toward Highway 88, you could just make out some of the fire damage in the distance from the horrific 2021 Caldor Fire which decimated so much of the area just to the north of this location. Looking North
One last look at Silver Lake before the trail drops back down into the trees to wind along the base of Thunder Mountain for a couple of miles before you are back at the trailhead. Silver Lake
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike