Backpacking Fourth of July Lake

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 28 October 2010

This is the Backpacker's Comments and Questions Page for the Tahoe to Whitney Fourth of July Lake Trail Guide Page.

This page has basic information for backpackers and hikers about Fourth of July Lake, and is where you can post your experiences, comments, questions, pictures and videos backpacking or hiking around Fourth of July Lake. Click the Comments link at the bottom of this page, or register to post your own stand-alone pages in the Carson Gap to Lake Alpine Trail Forum with pictures, videos, and maps.

Approaching Fourth of July Lake from The Sisters. Summit City Creek sits below Fourth of July Lake

Heading South down to Summit City Creek via Fourth of July Lake, the edge of which we can see nestled in the side of the mountain. Note the massive chunk of granite backing up the Southeast bank of Summit City Creek. We turn Right at its base.


Fourth of July Lake is a small lake nestled on the South side of the low gap between Fourth of July Peak and The Sisters-Round Top massif. You can see the Southeastern shore of Fourth of July Lake in the picture above. You can see the rest of Fourth of July Lake on its trail guide page.

Fourth of July Peak is the next peak to the West of The Sisters. The slopes on our right lead up to Fourth of July Peak, while those on the left lead up to Round Top and The Sisters. We are heading down the low point the drainage has cut between them past where Fourth of July Lake is situated. From Fourth of July Lake the trail will make one great traverse down to Summit City Creek.

The picture above was taken while working my way South down the trail off of the SW flank of the Sisters South towards Fourth of July Lake in July of '09. Note the new trail route to the right, and the old trail at left center of the frame. They really extended this section of the trail to forstall deepening erosion on the old route.

I put the distance Southbound to Fourth of July Lake from

Round Top Lake at:  2.3 miles

Carson Gap via Winnemucca Lake through Woods Lake: 6.2 miles 

Carson Gap via the Lost Cabin Mine through Woods Lake:  5.79 miles 

Carson Gap on the PCT via Carson Pass and the Winnemucca Lake junction: 6.87 miles


These routes to Fourth of July Lake can all be inspected on this Carson Pass Region Backpacking Map. Click the colored dots on the trail route to be linked to that location's trail guide page.

Continuing South from Fourth of July Lake

Camp Irene is 10.75 miles South of Fourth of July Lake.

Lake Alpine on Highway 4 is 19.11 miles South of Fourth of July Lake.


 Camping and Hiking at the Carson Pass Management Area

Fourth of July Lake is a within the furthest reach of  the Carson Pass Management Area. All campsites in the CPMA are designated campsites that are distributed by permits only available at the Carson Pass Cabin. As there are only 15 campsites in the whole Carson Pass Management Area, it may be very difficult to obtain permits during mid-Summer weekends.

 As I have previously mentioned, all through hiker's permits that name overnight camp spots in subsequent administrative units must be honored. This means that if you name campsites for your trip in any of the lakes in the Carson Pass Management Area, your permit must be honored. Don't name Frog Lake, as there is no Summertime camping allowed there.

I never push the issue. I hike in, scout about, and find a nice place to camp if all of the designated sites are full. If they are not full, I take one of the designated campsites, but will give it up if someone hikes in late from Carson Pass. I always have Round Top Lake as a named campsite on my through-permit, so I don't obtain a second permit at the Carson Pass Cabin, as they would likely like.

I suggest that through hikers on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail plan to spend a night at either Fourth of July Lake or Round Top Lake, if doing so does not interfere with your daily mileage requirements and schedule.

I have two reasons for suggesting camping at Fourth of July Lake. First, is that the Tahoe to Yosemite trail route deteriorates significantly when you enter the Summit City Creek's canyon. From Summit City Creek to Camp Irene on the N. Fork of the Mokelumne River you will be passing through 9.52 miles of unmaintained trail.

Giving yourself an early start to cross this short, but difficult section is a good idea. If you have problems passing through the difficult terrain between Summit City Creek and Camp Irene in late afternoon, you may have trouble finding a campsite with water before dark. So please make sure you get an early start, or know where you plan on camping, and know that you can get there before dark, when crossing this unmaintained section of the trail. Remember, Backpacking is Dangerous!

The section between Fourth of July Lake and Camp Irene is not the best section to get a late start on.

It may take much longer than you anticipate to cross this unmaintained section of the trail.

Second, Fourth of July Lake is beautiful.

Trail Guide Page: Fourth of July Lake

Maps: Carson Pass Region Backpacking Map

Mileage: Carson Gap to Lake Alpine


Have you hiked around Fourth of July Lake? Hiked the Summit City Creek? Share your experiences here...

Post your comments, questions, and experiences through the comments link below. If you've got pictures or videos, you will need to register before you can post them here in the Carson Gap to Lake Alpine: Tahoe to Yosemite Trail Forum.


The Next Forum Page South on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail is: Summit City Creek

The Next Forum Page North on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail is Round Top Lake


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