Winnemucca Wild

Post of the Day: Adding a bit of light to the darkness as we get through the pandemic together. This series features travel photos from my archives, shared with you while staying close to home.

August 5th, 2020

Today we’re hiking in the High Sierra, directly south of Lake Tahoe on the Winnemucca Lake Trail (not to be confused with Winnemucca Lake in northern Nevada).

Winnemucca Lake Trailhead

Winnemucca Lake Trailhead

Winnemucca Lake was likely* named after Northern Paiute Chief Winnemucca who lived in the region throughout his life, from 1820 to 1882. He was originally from the Shoshone tribe and joined the Paiute upon marriage to Tuboitonie, daughter of Old Winnemucca (also known as Chief Truckee).

Of all the hikes around Lake Tahoe, this is my favorite. It has a little bit of everything — high meadows, deep forest, old trees, waterfalls, lingering snow, lakes for swimming and eye-popping wildflowers in July and August. The corn lilies are full green, twisting elegantly in the sunshine and blooming with tiny white flowers. Flaming castilleja and indigo lupine paint the shoreline of nearby Round Top Lake, just up and over the crest of the hill from Lake Winnemucca.

A well-worn trail leads downhill from Round Top Lake. Looking back, a patch of snow clings to the north face of the mountain. Looking ahead, the effects of winter in the High Sierra are seen in the old trees stripped of their needles, leaning into the mountain. Looking closely at the ground, a wonder of wildflowers populates the trail in hot pink, sunset yellow, lavender and white. This is the reward of plodding uphill ~ an afternoon spent meandering down off the summit in the serenity of the wilderness.

Woods Lake

Woods Lake

Upon return, unlace your boots and put your feet in Woods Lake where a red canoe ~ and all the dreams of an unusual summer ~ float by.

Round Top Lake Trail

Round Top Lake Trail

Hiking Winnemucca Lake Trail:
From Lake Tahoe, take Highway 89 south to Highway 88 in Hope Valley. Turn right and drive to the Carson Pass Information Station where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the road. You can embark on your hike here, or continue down the road to Woods Creek Parking Area and trailhead where Winnemucca Lake Trail and Round Top Lake Trail both access the area. Combine any of these trails into a long loop and you won’t be disappointed. Within five to six miles you’ll cross several types of terrain, and see plants and pine trees of many varieties. Be sure to take water, sunscreen and a few layers. The upper reaches are exposed and can be hot, windy and prone to the elements.

More tomorrow,

*I’ve been unable to confirm definitively that alpine Winnemucca Lake is named after Chief Winnemucca. With his lifelong history in the area, it seems appropriate but it’s possible the lake is named after his father (Old Winnemucca), his daughter (Sarah Winnemucca) or another source.

Round Top Creek

Round Top Creek


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