El Dorado County is a paradise for outdoor lovers. The variety of terrain is one of the best features. We look forward to the changes autumn brings. Hiking is particularly nice and the mild temperatures add to the enjoyment.
I’ts a great time to revisit places you saw earlier. The Carson Pass area is a good example. The wildflowers are mostly gone, autumn has taken over and the landscape has changed.
The trail to Frog, Winnemucca and Round Top lakes is still stunning with the muted red, brown and yellow colors of fall replacing the fields of colorful wild flowers. The air is cooler, even brisk sometimes. The smells have also changed as nature prepares to bed down for winter.
Hike around Frog Lake, the first of the three, and enjoy the red and yellow aspens and cottonwoods dancing in the breeze. Whether the colors have changed or not, the area there is magnificent and worth repeated visits.
Across from the Carson Pass parking lot another trail head leads to Meiss Meadows, the Pacific Crest and Tahoe Rim trails. The trail is marked well and not overly difficult with just a few mild uphill sections.
A short climb is followed by a nice descent and then you’ll head back uphill. A wide open vista will greet you at the crest and if you look carefully there are faint remnants of a wagon and jeep road. This was cattle country for a long time.
At this spot, with the wide open views in front of you, hiking is relatively easy. It’s mostly flat but you can take off from either side and hike uphill to catch more stunning views. If you stay on the trail you come to a spot where you have to make a decision as you look down on Meiss Meadow.
The hike down to Meiss entails a hike back to where you started. If it’s late in the day, make sure you have enough daylight to make it back to the trail head. If so, go for it if your legs are up to it. You’ll be on a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail toward the Dardanelles, Round Lake and Big Meadow is part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. If you head west you’ll travel through the meadows and surrounding forest. Whether you stay at the top or not, this is a wonderful hike with great views.
The areas on both sides of Carson Pass are popular with hikers, skiers and snowshoers no matter what time of year.
Remember to take care when venturing into the forest. Don’t forget the basics: look at a good map before you go; take a map and a compass; wear layers; take enough food and water; check the weather forecast; wear good hiking shoes; and take sunscreen, a hat and a first aid kit.
Leave cotton clothing home. Choose apparel made of synthetics, wool and smart wool. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
There is a $5 fee to use Carson Pass trail heads. The lots are patrolled and non-compliance will result in a ticket. There is no fee for those with senior passes.
It’s a great time of year to explore our wonderful forests. Stay outside!