Back to index Frog Lake Loop Snowshoe

Trip Date:  03/13/2020

: 3.2 Miles

Vertical Gain: 700'

Group Size: 2

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Frog Lake Loop Route
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Frog Lake Loop Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 41.697  W 119 59.363     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No
Parking Directions:   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:   Be aware of very changeable weather in this area during any season.  Route-finding during the winter months.  Prepare for various temperatures, rain and snow.
Crowd Factor:   Moderate. Once you leave the trail early on you will probably not run into anyone until you reach the base of Elephant's Back mountain or once you pick up the trail from Lake Winnemucca to Carson Pass.
From the parking area on the road,  head past the Carson Pass information station building and along the along the Pacific Crest Trail for about a quarter mile at the most.  From anywhere along the trail here, head directly up the terrain to the southeast to gain the ridge just to the north of Frog Lake.  Some of the snow on this day was very powdery and loose, so finding the least steep route up this ridge.  Once you get to the top and spot Frog Lake, head around the eastern edge of the lake and continue to climb up the terrain ahead of you until you reach the Pacific Crest Trail once again as it crosses past the base of Elephant's Back mountain.  From here you will head generally northwest along the trail (if not covered with snow) or until you reach the Lake Winnemucca Trail.  Head to the northeast along this trail to make your way back to the Carson Pass information station and parking area.

The Carson Pass Information Station almost completely buried in a heavy snow year (2016.)  This will be the starting point of the snowshoe trek.
Parking area

Heading up the mountain toward the back from Frog Lake after leaving the PCT a quarter mile into the trek.
Heading up 

Looking for the best route up the ridgeline without having to navigate snow that is too deep or too sloped for safety.
Finding a route 

Near the first rise before Frog Lake is a nice viewpoint with vistas all the way across Hope Valley to Hawkins Peak in the distance.
Early views northeast 

Just when you think you are out in the midst of unexplored territory you often come across something like this bearing tree.
Bearing tree 

Attaining the first ridge, you get a nice view of the currently frozen Frog Lake and Elephant's Back and Round Top Mountains in the background.
Frozen frog

Making our way up from Frog Lake on another climb up toward Elephant's Back Mountain straight ahead of us.
Elephants Back 

Reaching the top of this second climb below Elephant's Back offers just an amazing view of the mountains south including Jeff Davis, Highland and Silver Peaks.
Views south 

A look back to the north of Red Lake Peak on the left and Hope Valley beyond.
 Hope Valley

The views from this location toward Ebbetts Pass to the south are just amazing.
Mark on the way

A closer look at Elephant's Back as we near the Pacific Crest Trail.  There were some dangerous cornices visible all along this ridge.
Elephant's Back Mountain

Having a brief chat with a few skiiers from Meyers who were enjoying the fresh snow on this perfectly clear day.

Just to the northwest of the parking area there are some signs from the old Emigrant Trail which meandered all through this area over 100 years ago.
Emigrant Trail

The GPS track of the peak climb from right to left and back. GPS Track of Hike