Back to index Little Round Top Circle Hike
Trip Date:  09/23/2011

: 10.6 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1200'

Group Size: 1
Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard   Strenuous
LRT Circle Hike
Download GPX GPX for this trip
LRT Circle Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 43.538, W 120 02.843     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 88 to the turnoff to Schneider Cow Camp Rd on the north side of the road signed "Caples Lake Maintenance Station.   Pass the Caltrans buildings on your right and turn right onto Strawberry Creek Rd.  Continue on this rough, dirt road to the coordinates where there is parking for a few vehicles on your right.
Hazards of Note:   Weather in this area can change quickly so be prepared for various temperatures and rain.

Crowd Factor:   Minimal.  This is a relatively obscure entrance to the Little Round Top area with a significant climb right at the start of the trip.
General Notes:
From the parking area continue up the road just a few hundred feet to find the trail headed to the east.  Follow this trail through some early forested section, but it will quickly open up and begin a series of long switchbacks that will take you up the side of the hill to a gap almost 1000 feet above where you started from.  At this point you have great views back behind you to Kirkwood and the Thunder Mountain area, as well as nice views of the Lake Valley below and even Lake Tahoe in the distance.  Take the trail that heads northeast down the oppposite side, headed almost directly toward Showers Lake a little bit below you.  (A side trip would be to head up the ridgeline to the actual Little Round Top Peak, but that will add another three miles up and back.)  
At Showers lake head around the east side, as most maps show the Pacific Crest Trail on the west side but this is not correct.    Past Showers Lake is an area of the PCT which is open and rocky, with wildflowers all around you and multiple water crossings if you are early enough in the summer.  Turn left at the junction to either Echo Summit (not the correct way) or back to Schneider Cow Camp.  This back area is relatively bland, but as you near the end of the loop there are great views of Caples Lake and Round Top to the south.

First climb up from Schneider Cow Camp area. First climb
The Sentinals above Kirkwood from the trail up. Sentinals from the ridge
Looking at Little Round Top summit from the trail up. Looking toward LRT
View north from the pass. View north from the pass
Lake Tahoe views from the pass. Lake Tahoe
Better view of Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe
Showers Lake from high above. Showers Lake
Trail view of Showers Lake. Showers Lake
Showers Lake and Little Round Top crest. Showers Lake
Lunch spot at Showers Lake. Showers Lake lunch
Basalt spires above the trail. Basalt spires
Round Top view coming around the last trail bend. Round Top view
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike