Afoot & Afield: Tahoe-Reno: 201 Spectacular Outings in the Lake Tahoe Region
by Mike White (Wilderness Press)
© 2016 Mike White/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.
Winnemucca & Round Top Lakes Loop (kirkwood area)
level 3, 4.8 mi, +/-1200, 9365'
Duration:2.5 to 3 hours
We stayed at woods Lake Campground. We had a nice secluded site. The rate was $24 per night (btw, the place was clean – did a great job of trash pick-up and also the vault toilets were surprisingly not disgusting!). The trail guide sends you counter-clockwise to Round Top then Winnemucca lakes, but I strongly recommend you go clockwise and reverse the route. From the trail head parking ($5 per vehicle) walk down the main road toward the day use area at Woods lake, right on the left before you get to the lake you will see a wood bridge on the left – cross the bridge and go straight (right goes around the lake) – you’ll know you’re on the correct trail as you get a ways up and see the Mokelumne Forest signs. It’s a steady but gradual ascent for an hour to get to Winnemucca Lake. When you see the granite mt ahead of you with the lava mt behind them, know that you’ll be going around the granite and up between it and the lava on the backside – and when you look up and see the top of the granite mt, yes, you’ll be climbing to almost the very top elevation of that! From the trail post marker go right to Round Top Lake which is going to get you steadily up to the height of the granite mt ahead of you and on the right The lake is at the base of the lava mts which are Sisters and Round Top Peaks. The trail was pretty populated but there was shade at both lakes enough for everyone to share. There was plenty of water on this hike for the dogs even in August. After stopping at Round Top Lake for lunch and relaxation, we went right at the trail post and down – yes down – that’s why I say to go clockwise, this part of the trail is much steeper and rockier than the other side, and out of the cool breezes at the top. You’ll go down for about an hour, passing lost cabin mine (just rusted remnant of an old mine) and eventually get back to the trail head parking lot
My wife & I parked in the lot adjacent to Woods Lake campground. The climb to Winnemucca was reasonably tough; long and continuous. The hike description alluded to an elevation gain of ~1,100'.
Getting to the lake after enjoying many great views of the terrain inspired us to lunch, which we ate while looking across the water.
After lunch, we decided to forge on to Round Top Lake,another 1 mile according to the 4x4 stake in the ground. It was a long mile indeed, gaining a respectable additional elevation along the way. We took in the view of the lake while drinking lots of water; even though the temps were in the low-to-mid 70s, the physical exertion led to plenty of sweat.
From Round Top, we headed back to Woods by the alternate route - not opposite the way we went up. The continuous, and rather steep at times, descent was quite a workout for the quads. The "cold one" back at the truck tasted sooo good.
Overall, this was an enjoyable hike with tons of very nice views. We'll certainly hike in this part of the world again when we return next month.
Leaving the Woods lake trail head at 10 am our group of 8 (4 youth, 4 adults) from Troop 152 of Dixon, California set out for Lake Winnemucca. The Parking Cost at the Trailhead / Parking lot is $5 per day. There was a vault toilet at the Trailhead / Parking lot. The trail is well marked. This loop trail can be traveled in two directions:
1. Trailhead to Lake Winnemucca to Round Top Lake and back to the Trailhead
2. Trailhead to Round Top Lake to Lake Winnemucca and back to the Trailhead
The trail to Lake Winnemucca is a far easier route than that to Round Top Lake from the trailhead. There is a stream that flows out of Lake Winnemucca that is followed for a short time in the later part of the trail. We arrived at the lake at around noon. There were a lot of day hikers and people fishing. There were excellent views of Round Top Peak, The Sisters, and Elephants Back. There are 3 campsites available for rental at Lake Winnemucca. We stayed in Campsite #3. The Campsite was about 100 yards for the edge of the lake and in the middle of the trail. We day hiked to the top of Elephants Back (9585 ft). On Sunday, we hike to Round Top Lake. The trail is well marked and is an uphill walk most of the way. This part of the trail is only about a mile long but 75% is uphill. We walked around the lake were there was a small snow field (even in the end of August). The terrain near the edge of Round Top Lake is flat different than Lake Winnemucca. There are several Campsites at Round Top Lake. The hike from Round Top Lake to the trail head is about 2.5 – 3 miles. It is pretty steep (going down) at different places. We passed the Lost Cabin Mine on this portion of the hike. Over all this was a great hike with beautiful views.
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