Woods Lake loop - July 2019

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Here's a loop trail intro from Rich's handout (reference at bottom): "This signature hike is beloved by Sacramentans for its spectacular alpine vistas, magnificent wildflowers, sparkling lakes, and outstanding fall color.  The dark volcanic ridges and peaks provide a brooding backdrop to Winnemucca and Round Top Lakes, two of the prettiest lakes in the northern Sierra. The volcanic soils also support an unusually rich wildflower display. As a consequence, be prepared to share this incredible hike with many people during the optimum summer months..."

Eight of us took advantage of the recently re-opened Mormon Emigrant Trail (having been snowed under for a long winter) to access Highway 88 east and then Woods Lake, just shy of Carson Pass.  From Woods Lake the walking loop consists of the Round Top Lake trail, which we ascended, and, the Winnemucca Lake trail, on which we returned. As predicted, wildflowers were prolific and I heard Susan say "it's springtime at 9,000 feet."

note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again.

Woods creek on the trail Red Lake Peak above Carson Pass creek from Round Top Lake
  lupine Buckwheat rare apricot Indian Paintbrush  
in good scenery walking trail is at far left see note below zoomed in view
The Sisters Desolation Wilderness to the north Round Top Lake

note - this is looking west at the Kirkwood Ski area. In the far upper left corner is a chair lift for a few black diamond runs.   

We had lunch in a shady spot next to scenic Round Top Lake. There were a lot of other hikers, some with unleashed dogs. Kathy, Frank, & Dave, were nearly mobbed by two unleashed dogs, while having lunch !    

Afterwards we walked downhill a bit to Lake Winnemucca and then followed its modest outlet creek back down to Woods Lake.    

leaving the lunch spot seasonal  perennials  Wooly Mule Ears at the foot of  Round Top
  Karen, Susan and Linda Lake Winnemucca everyone's favorite photo spot  
another look Kathy really flat light check out the tiny lake outlet gate valve
  Mt. Hawkins & Elephant Back green Gentian one crossing snow
outlet creek & foot bridge wildflower mix Gentian two & three
Kathy in good scenery downhill to Woods Lake the creek was  often alongside the trail
Woods creek, again almost back a great walk today  

On the drive home the group stopped at the C&T restaurant in Pollock Pines for Mexican food.  Three of the eight hikers were new to this place, while the rest of us had become instant fans after our first visit, a month ago, post-Silver Fork walk.  Once again, the food & service (at 4 pm) were fabulous and everyone went away happy.    

hike notes - Out on the trail this morning at 10:30 am it was cool, like 70 degrees F.  At first we had pure blue skies & plenty of sun, and on the ascent it started to heat up a bit.  But by the time we reached the lakes, the cloud cover (that brought flat light) kept us cool for the downhill walk. 

To put this into perspective, when we returned to the Sacramento area at about 6 pm, it was 107 degrees, with crappy air quality, due to fires.    

The loop trail walk was a worthwhile endeavor, and a 'great escape' from the City. It also was a good workout for flatlanders. The handout said the distance was 5 miles with 1,200 ft. of gain from Woods Lake, at 8,200 ft.  

It was also an uncrowded & scenic drive up there and back.    

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reference: Top Trails Sacramento, by Steve Evans, Wilderness Press, 2007