Carson Pass (8,574 feet) offers access to beautiful subalpine country. As a result, it is extremely popular, partly because it is a trailhead for the Mokelumne Wilderness. This part of the Sierra crest was where the first winter crossing of the Sierra Nevada took place, in February 1844, by a party led by John C. Fremont and Kit Carson, a crossing in which they all nearly perished. As you stand on the crest near Frog Lake and look toward the east, you can persuade yourself that this is the exact place where Fremont and Carson crossed, rather than at the modern Carson Pass where the highway now goes. The terrain east of Frog Lake appears to be a much better route than the steep slopes near Carson Pass itself. Hope Valley, in the opinion of some, is the second most beautiful mountain valley in the Sierra Nevada, surpassed only by Yosemite Valley. In June, with the green of its huge meadow valley and the snowy peaks behind, it may very well come up to the brag. In mid-October, the aspens blaze into yellow and gold, offering what is probably the best display of autumn color in California. Specialty birds: Resident—Blue Grouse, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Steller’s Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Townsend’s Solitaire, Cassin’s Finch. Summer—Prairie Falcon, Dusky Flycatcher, Mountain Bluebird, Hermit Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee. Migrant—Hammond’s Flycatcher, MacGillivray’s Warbler. This eTrail provides detailed information on birding strategies for this specific location, the specialty birds and other key birds you might see, directions to each birding spot, a detailed map, and helpful general information.
© John Kemper/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.