Back to index Emigrant Lake to Carson Pass Hike
Trip Date:  10/26/2018

: 10.3 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1800'

Group Size: 5
Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard   Strenuous
Emigrant Lake to Carson Pass Hike
Download GPX GPX for this trip
Emigrant Lake to Carson Pass Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 42.188, W 120 03.929     End Coordinates:   N 38 41.697  W 119 59.363
Car Shuttle Req'd:   Yes Parking Directions:   Take Highway 88 to the parking area just at the west end of Caples Lake (past Kirkwood,) near the Caples Lake dam.  There is a large paved parking area here as well as restrooms.
For the ending area,
take Highway 88 to the parking area at the Carson Pass ranger station on the west side of the road.  Pay the day use fee (summer only) and find the trailhead just to the right side (north) of the ranger station itself.
Hazards of Note:   Rocky trail on sections of this trek.  Routefinding will be required to get from Emigrant Lake to the Lake Winnemucca/Round Top Lake trail.

Crowd Factor:   Moderate.   Emigrant Lake is a popular Alpine Lake destination in the summer, and is also a snowshoe and skiing area during the winter.
General Notes:
From the parking area you will start along the trail and follow the edge of Caples Lake for almost two miles.  About 3/4 of the way along this section is a marker for the Emigrant Trail, which heads off to the right and up the mountain.  Continue straight at this point toward Emigrant Lake.  Once you reach the end of the Caples Lake the trail will being to climb significantly, heading up a forested path over granite until you reach the lake.  The setting for the lake is spectacular, with mountains surrounding you on three sides with steep dropoffs down to the lake.   Melissa Coray peak is directly to the south with the man-made structure at the top, with Covered Wagon Peak on the right and Peak 9795 on the left.
From this point you should be able to navigate east up the rocky ridge on the eastern side of Emigrant Lake, following cairns and use trails all the way to the top of this section.  When you reach this point you will have great view of Caples Lake to the Northeast and Round Top mountain and the Sisters just before it.  Head almost due south from this section, aiming for the western side of the pointed 4th of July Peak almost directly to your south.  There are many ways to go from here, but do not drop down too low or you will find yourself in a boulder scramble situation.  There are actually painted blazes along most of this section of trail.  Look for these orange markers along the way.  
The journey to the top of 4th of July Peak is well worth the effort, with amazing vistas toward Deadwood Peak due south and Summit City Canyon just in front of it.
Drop down 4th of July Peak on the east side where you will meet up with the trail coming up from 4th of July Lake and then head to the left on this trail which will go past Round Top Lake first, then Lake Winnemucca and finally Frog Lake on your way out to Carson Pass.

The trailhead for Emigrant Lake at the beginning near the Caples Lake dam. Trailhead sign from a previous trip
Halfway to the lake we encounted a pretty significant downfall from the previous winter storms. Maintenance required
Some of the group taking a breather along the early climb toward the lake.
Taking a break
Looking south across the lake toward Melissa Coray Peak in the distance. Nice view of Emigrant Lake
Looking west toward Covered Wagon Peak and Kirkwood Ski resort past it. Covered Wagon Peak
Looking north toward Caples Lake and Little Round Top Peak in the distance. Caples Lake
A path had been designated along this cross-country route at some point in the past, marked out by these orange blaze marks. Painted Blazes
Heading toward the midpoint destination of 4th of July Peak.   4th of July Peak
A couple of our group enjoying the view from the peak toward Summit City Canyon and Deadwood Peak in the distance. Deadwood from 4th of July
Looking east toward the 4th of July Lake trail which needs to be navigated to and then followed all the way out to Carson Pass.Heading toward the trail
Looking east from the summiit toward Raymond and Reynolds Peaks and the Pacific Crest Trail.View east
Looking back toward the way we came down off of 4th of July Peak.Back towards 4th of July Peak
Phil looking across Round Top Lake with the 10K' Round Top Peak in the distance.Round Top Lake
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike