Highway 88/Carson Pass
An all season roadway, Highway 88, the Carson Pass Highway, enters the Eldorado National Forest 64 miles east of Stockton near the Dew Drop Fire Station at the 4300 foot elevation and continues through the forest for 38 miles until in reaches Carson Pass at the 8573 foot elevation. From there it descends into Nevada near Woodfords. Much of the highway parallels the northern ridge above the Mokelumne River canyon then follows the old Mormon Emigrant Trail. Several historic sites can be accessed on a driving tour described in Gold Rush Trail, a guide by Frank Tortorich.
With a elevation change of over 4000 feet, from west to east, the forest changes from foothill woodland, chaparral, and mixed conifer to the true fir, and subalpine forests of the Carson Pass area. Over eighteen developed campgrounds, both public and private, are accessible from the highway, as well as miles of fishable streams and rivers, and major and minor lakes and reservoirs affording the visitor many recreational opportunties.
At the summit the Carson Pass Information Station offers visitors a chance to stop and stretch their legs and learn more about the area. Wilderness Permits, Campfire Permits and campsite reservations for the Carson Pass Management Area are all available at the stations along with maps. books and more. The station is open everyday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Stop in!
Whatever the season, the Carson Pass Highway is open for fun.
Carson Pass Winter Fun
Sno-Parks in the Carson Pass area are located at the Meiss Trailhead, the Carson Pass Information Station, Iron Mountain and Hope Valley. They are open November 1-May 30. A Sno-Park permit is required and can be
obtained on line at www.sno-parkpermits or -
- The Amador Ranger Station 26820 Silver Drive in Pioneer. (209) 295-4251
- The Placerville Ranger Station 4260 Eight Mile Road in Camino. (530) 644-2324
- The Forest Superintendent's Office 100 Forni Road in Placerville.(530) 622-5061
- Other locations such as REI and local retailers.
The cost is $25.00 per season or $5.00 a day
BACK COUNTRY SKIING AND SNOWSHOEING AT CARSON PASS Located at the crest of Carson Pass on Highway 88 the Carson Pass Information Station is a great place to start your adventure. The Station is closed in the winter, but several trails start from the Sno-Park lot next to the station where restrooms are also available.Follow the trail leaving the parking lot just to the side of the Information Station traversing through a beautiful primitive forest to Frog Lake at one mile. Continuing on the trail will bring you to Winammuca Lake, Round Top Mountain, and Elephant's Back. You will be in a wilderness area so there are no blue diamonds on the trees to mark the trail so you must be responsible for your navigation.
If you go west of the station a few hundred yards you will find tanother Sno-Park rea for the Meiss Meadow trailhead. You won’t be disappointed with the magnificent views of Meiss Meadow and Lake Tahoe.
ICE FISHING in the Carson Pass area is available at Silver Lake, Caples Lake, Red Lake, and Woods Lake. A variety of trout including Mackinaw, Brown, Brook, and Rainbow trout are available. Many of these hungary fish can weigh from five pounds to an excess of twenty pounds for the Mackinaw. Ice conditions can change rapidly so caution is advised.
KIRKWOOD SKI AREA - DOWNHILL AND CROSSCOUNTRY SKIING AND SNOWSHOEING
Kirkwood is recognized as one of the top ski resorts in the country, offering 15 lifts, 2 high speed quads, 65 runs and 2,000 skiable acres. This advanced mountain is known for its steep chutes and impressive cornice skiing. There are also groomed trails for the intermediate and beginning skier. Lessons, rentals, and lodging are available. Located just 33 miles southwest of Lake Tahoe, about 100 miles from Stockton, and 177 miles from the Bay area makes Kirkwood very accessible.
The cross country ski and snowshoe center is located on Hwy.88 one quarter mile east of the Kirkwood turnoff and next to the Kirkwood Inn. If you enjoy being surrounded by wilderness trails and you enjoy cross country skiing and snowshoeing then give the Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Center a try. Located at 7,800 feet and soaring to over 9,000 feet. With 80 km of groomed skating and snowshoe trails with two trails that are dog friendly. The diverse terrain provides excellent skiing for all abilities. Traverse around lava cliffs and wilderness trails or meander down to Caples Creek and visit beaver dams and open meadows. Trail passes, rentals, lessons, tours and retail are available at the cross country center (209) 258-7248. Trail passes and
SNOW CAMPING an be a challenging and very rewarding experience. If you are camping in the Carson
Pass Management Area you must have a minimum of twelve inches of snow on the ground. Camping within the management area is only allowed at designated sites at Winammuca Lake, Frog Lake, Round Top and 4th of July lake. Open fires are not allowed above 8,000 feet so plan to use your camp stove. A wilderness permit and camp fire permit are required and can be obtained from the Amador Ranger Station on Silver Drive in Pioneer.
Dispersed camping is allowed on the North side of Highway 88 in the Meiss Meadows area. This area is dog friendly and no wilderness permit is required. A fire permit is required,however.
SNOWMOBILING is not allowed in the Carson Pass Management Area or Meiss Meadow area, but close by
good areas for snowmobiling are Iron Mountain, at the junction of Mormon-Emigrant Trail Road and Highway 88, and Hope Valley just east of the pass. Each has a Sno-Park staging area, miles of groomed and ungroomed trails, and acres of open country. Silver Bear Snowmobiling Trails begin at the Iron Mountain Sno-Park about 25 miles east of Jackson. Hope Valley Snowmobiling Trails launch from the Hope Valley Sno-Park on the east side of the pass.