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General Information: The craggy, volcanic appearance of Red Lake Peak makes it easy to spot as you head up Highway 89 towards Carson Pass. Red Lake Peak is located just to the north of 88 near Carson Pass. Hiked from Carson Pass, it is one of the most easily attained Tahoe area peaks, sitting only 1500 feet above Carson Pass. From the summit, you can see far into the Mokolumne Wilderness to the south and all the way to Lake Tahoe to the north. You also get a bird's eye view of the extensive Meiss Meadow area, as well as Echo Summit, Pyramid Peak, and Freel Peak. Not a bad view for so little effort.

Click here for a trail map and elevation profile

Where To Start: In the summer, park in the lot on the north side of Highway 88 just past the Carson Pass ($3.00 fee required). The "trail" starts at the warning sign for the avalanche bombs (you'll see what we mean). In the winter, park in the Sno-Park ($5.00 pass required, available at the Shell station in Meyers). Cross the road to the north side and start just west of the pass.

Trail Description: The trail for this hike is indistinct at best and frequently just disappears all together. No problem really as your goal is right in front of you. To be sure, there are better ways and worse way to go, mostly related to how much bush-wacking you have to do. In general, you can hike around most of the larger bushy areas. In winter, or course, this is not a problem and you simply head up the mountain.

As you get near the base of the exposed, red volcanic conglomerate rock, you will want to pass on the right (east) side of the most obvious group. As you round the corner, you will see a saddle between two pinnacles. This is your destination. The highest pinnacle is the one in the middle of the three main pinnacle groups, but unless you are comfortable with steep 4th class climbing, we would advise you to stay off the upper most rock outcrops.

Descent:

Summer: Simply reverse your route back to your car.

Winter: In the winter, many people leave a car a mile or two east of Red Lake on Highway 88 and then drive a second car to Carson Pass. This allows them to ski off the back side of Red Lake Peak, past Crater Lake and get an extra 1400 feet of descent.

 

Environmental Concerns: The high alpine environment is extremely fragile. Try to avoid tramping wildflowers and bushes as they take years to regrow. As always, please be sure to pack out all that you pack in.

Advisory: Red Lake Peak is along perhaps the most avalanche prone area near Tahoe. Highway 88 is closed ALL THE TIME for avalanche control. Avalanche conditions introduce a distinct element of risk that the skier/boarder/snow-shoer accepts by stepping foot on the mountain. Always check the avalanche forecast before skiing/boarding this peak.

The summit pinnacle is steep with some class IV moves to reach the top. It is recommended that you do not attempt to reach the very top.

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