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Winnemucca Lake (2018)

Mokelumne Wilderness

June 29th, 2018

5.6 miles
1160 vertical feet
Total Time: 4:20

Starting elevation
8221 feet
Max elevation
9391 feet

Rating: 8/10

Directions: Take Highway 88 east. After passing Kirkwood ski resort, and then Caples Lake, but before reaching Carson Pass, be on the lookout for Woods Lake campground on your right. Follow the road to the day use parking lot. Arrive early to avoid the crowds, as this lot can get full. The Woods Lake campground, while great, is often full and is first-come, first-served.   View Driving Map



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GPX File

This was my fourth time starting a hike at Woods Lake, and the second time doing this exact hike, though it had been nearly 16 years since the last time we visited this area. So this was the first visit for the kids. We parked in the 2/3rds full day use lot around 1pm.

The trail starts along the paved road before there's shortly a dirt trail that parallels the road. We then quickly came to a sign where the "loop" section of the hike starts. We took the left fork to Winnemucca Lake (we'd return on the right fork, from Round Top Lake).

The trail crosses the road, then starts to climb gently past hillsides dotted with wildflowers. The first time I did this hike I remember the wildflowers filled the hillsides in an impressive colorful display. This time wasn't nearly as impressive, but perhaps that's because we came about a month earlier in the year this time. Still, there were displays of Indian paintbrush, columbine, lupine, and more. My oldest son has started taking an interest in taking pictures of flowers, so we stopped several times here.

Indian paintbrush

Round Top in the distance

Round Top

Hillside of flowers

Trail heading toward Winnemucca Lake and Round Top

This hillside was full of flowers when I went 20 years ago

Into the Mokelumne Wilderness

After we exited the forest to the open hillsides, we soon saw Round Top ahead of us, patches of snow clinging to its sides. We could hear the outlet flow rushing downstream to our right. After only about 80 minutes of hiking from the trailhead, we reached Winnemucca Lake.

Winnemucca Lake

Winnemucca Lake

Flower close-up

Lupine

Lupine

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Lupine

After a nice lunch break here, we continued climbing to the west, then dropped down to Round Top Lake. After a brief stop here, we started the steep descent down toward the Woods Lake campground. I would say this is steeper and less scenic than the route to Winnemucca Lake, and with fewer wildflowers. Soon enough we could smell the campfires coming from the campground. Then we reached the loop start and made our way back to the parking lot.

Looking back toward Winnemucca Lake and the trail we took

Winnemucca Lake

Round Top Lake

Round Top (left)

Round Top Lake

Round Top Lake

Starting the descent

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