Outside with Charlie

By October 26, 2010

Charles Ferris

Carson Valley hikes

Autumn days are made for enjoying the outdoors. Taking in the colors of the aspen along the Highway 88 corridor or traveling along Highway 89 from the Y at South Lake Tahoe to the lakes west shore to see the changing of the colors is a great way to spend time because of the many spots along the way to get out of the car and hike a bit.

The number of days left to hike in the high country is dwindling. Not only are the days growing shorter, autumn storms are working their way toward us. Sooner or later, your favorite mountain trail be windy, rainy and eventually, snowy.

Take advantage of the great autumn weather now. Decide how much time you have and find a hike that fits the time frame. The Eldorado, Tahoe and Toiyabe national forests all have wonderful hikes.

Jenkinson Lake in Sly Park has a trail close to home that circles the lake and is fairly easy. The Miwuk Trail is a good nature trail to explore if youve never done it before. Its well used, clearly marked and within park boundaries.

There are several choices along Highway 88 at Carson Pass. At the main trail head youll find a map at the forest service kiosk that shows hikes to Round Top and Frog lakes and Lake Winnemucca

The hike to Frog Lake is fairly easy and takes about an hour. The only climb is at the beginning a short way from the trail head. Once there, hike around to the far side of the lake and up a small rise and enjoy a nice view of Red Lake and parts of Hope Valley. Youll see Freel Peak in the distance.

Lake Winnemucca is a short distance from Frog Lake. Its another wonderful lake with plenty of spots along the shore to have a bite to eat and relax. By now you will have been on the trail for about one and a half to two hours depending on your pace.

Take time while youre hiking to look around at all the other peaks and lakes in the area and imagine what the open, sloping meadows will look like in the spring. If you return at just the right time youll be amazed at the riot of colorful wildflowers.

If you have time, the trail continues to Round Top Lake but remember the days are etting shorter. Leave plenty of time to get back to the trail head in daylight. The hike from Winnemucca to Round Top, which you can see from the comfort of Winnemucca, is somewhat strenuous. Its a great hike but will add another hour or so to your trip. If you dont have the time save it for next time.

Theres another trail head on the opposite side of Highway 89 at Carson Pass that leads into the Meiss Meadow area. There are some great views from this trail of Woods Lake, Elephant Back and Round Top. This is another area thats covered with color in spring.

Tailor this hike to the time you have. Its possible to hike all the way to Big Meadow or connect with the Pacific Crest Trail. Theres a spot on the trail where you can look into the meadow and decide if you want to hike down  but remember, you have to hike back out when its time to return. Make sure youll have enough daylight.

The Carson Pass area offers wonderful hiking. Check the weather, load your gear and head out. Remember your camera, take your time and have a wonderful day.

Charlie Ferris

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