Hiking Inn to Inn
We hiked this trail in late July. It was still spring time in the high country. The wildflowers were spectacular, and they should continue into late August.
Start at Carson Pass (8,574’) from the parking area at the crest of Highway 88, and head south on the Pacific Crest Trail, gradually ascending through a forest of western white pines. The hike to Winnemucca Lake (8,980’) is 2.4 miles, and Round Top Lake (9,364’) is another mile.
The forest thins as you hike, and the terrain turns to grassy mountain sides. Round Top Mountain comes into view, raw granite graced with snowfields. After a mile, you pass by Frog Lake, a short detour from the trail. The PCT veers to the west, but we follow the signs to Winnemucca Lake.
Snowmelt moistens the soil, and we hiked through vast wildflower gardens – deep blue lupine, yellow mules ear, white cow parsnips, wild iris, red paint brush. We spotted blue elephant heads along a stream with clusters of flowers shaped like its name.
Most hikers turn back here. A few continue on to Round Top Lake. It is worth the effort. Even if you don’t go on, walk to Winnemucca’s south west corner where a stream flows out of the lake and water pours down the mountainside from snowfields. Here the wildflowers are in their full glory.
Hike over the crest, and the view of Round Top Lake will take your breath away. A crystalline lake surrounded by green fields and pines, it is nestled at the base of The Sisters, rugged granite peaks with deep snowfields that should last until they are replenished by next winter’s storms. We walked along the shoreline and stopped for a picnic, just enjoying the beautiful scene.
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