Backpacking Woods Lake

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 25 October 2010

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This is the Comments, Questions and additional information Page for the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail's Woods Lake Trail Guide Page. Post comments and questions about Woods Lake through the Comments link above, or at the bottom of the page.

Register and post your own stand-alone page with pictures, vidoes, and maps in this Forum if you have experiences and information from the Carson Gap to Round Top Lake via Woods Lake.

Backpacking and Day Hiking Woods Lake

Woods Lake is a small lake located to the Southwest of the Carson Pass off of HIghway 88. Hikers on the Tahoe to Yosemite trail will pass by Woods Lake on their way up to Round Top Lake from the Carson Gap on two of their three possible routes to hike up to the Round Top Lake trail junction.

Approaching  Woods Lake the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail backpacker has two routes up to Round Top Lake to choose from. Hikers can use the footbridge route to approach Round Top Lake from the East via Winnamucca Lake, or take the second route up to Round Top Lake which cuts through the Woods Lake Car Campground to take the Lost Cabin Mine trail to Round Top Lake from the North.

Hiking up the Lost Cabin Mine trail to the West of Woods Lake gives you this view of Woods Lake

Woods Lake viewed from the Lost Cabin Mine trail.

Both of these routes are described on the Woods Lake trail guide page.

Woods Lake trail guide page

Woods Lake on a backpacking map

Woods Lake miles and elevations: Carson Gap to Lake Alpine 

The third route is another Winnemucca Lake approach from the East, this one via the PCT South of Carson Pass, rather than cutting up Woods Creek along the footbridge path to pass by Winnemucca Lake on your way up to Round Top Lake.

Day Hiking Fee!

I understand that the Carson Pass Management Area, which bounds Woods Lake on almost all sides, is charging a $5 day-hiker fee. Maybe it's the parking fee, or maybe it's a charge on top of the parking fee. Honestly, I don't know. Inspecting the El Dorado National Forest's Carson Pass management Area web page, it appears that the CPMA is charging $5 for day hiking, and a parking fee.

I've never started a trip at the Carson Pass, so I never drive or park there. I have walked through there dozens of times. The shortest trip I've been on passing by, or through, Carson Pass  has been 35 miles, and that trip was short because it was over snow In the Wintertime. So I've never drawn a permit from the Carson Pass Management Area's Cabin at Carson Pass.


When I do camp at Round Top Lake or Fourth of July Lake in the Carson Pass Management Area it has always been the case that I have always named that particular camping location on the permit I've drawn from the authority that issued my permit.

This is generally the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, as I am generally hiking South from Lake Tahoe, though I've come Northbound into the Carson Pass Managemnt Area on the Pacific Crest Trail out of the Carson Ranger District of the Toiyabe National Forest, as well as come North on the Tahoe to Yosemite route through the Calaveras Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest via Lake Alpine.

Remember, if you are starting from a distant trail head under a different administrative unit, all other administrative units down the trail must honor that permit. So make sure you name your camping locations if they are within any special zones, such as the CPMA.

I have much more general and permit information about the Carson Pass Management Area on the Carson Pass trail guide page, as well as on the El Dorado National Forest page.

Here's my bottom line: I don't draw a permit from the CPMA if I've named my camping location in the CPMA on my through permit from a different National Forest administrative unit than the CPMA.

If I didn't have a named location for camping in the CPMA on my permit,  I figure I'd have to get a permit from the CPMA at the Carson Pass Cabin to spend a night there.

Winter Permits

Round Top is one of my favorite destinations for Winter Travel out of the Lake Tahoe Basin. During Winter I've never sidetracked over to the Carson Pass Cabin on my way from the Tahoe Basin to Round Top Lake to pick up a permit, nor have I ever drawn a permit from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit for Summer or Winter travel in the Meiss Roadless Area. A hiking permit is not required in the Meiss Roadless Area, though a fire permit is required, even for backpacking stoves.

I understand that the Carson Pass Management Area now requires permits for Winter travel in the CPMA. As I've never started a Winter trip from Carson Pass, I've never drawn a permit from the Cabin or the Amador Ranger District of the El Dorado National Forest, which administers the Carson Pass Management Area.

I ALWAYS draw a permit for long distance hikes beginning in Meiss Country when that hike brings me out of Meiss Country through subsequent administrative units, even within the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

Have you had experiences hiking about Woods Lake and the Carson Pass Management Area?

Post comments, ask questions through the comments link below.  Register to post up your own stand-alone page about your experiences around Woods Lake with pictures, videos, and information about Woods Lake. 


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