Woods Lake in Winter

Powder up for a snow-filled adventure to frozen Woods Lake. This 4-mile (round-trip) out-and-back in the Carson Pass…

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Powder up for a snow-filled adventure to frozen Woods Lake. This 4-mile (round-trip) out-and-back in the Carson Pass takes you through gently rolling hills, across snow-covered meadows, and alongside meandering streams. Start your journey in the Meiss Meadow Sno-Park. Cross the highway and follow the trail through Meiss Meadow with Round Top Peak looming in the distance.

The path veers to the east into red and white fir forest. The trail is well marked: blue diamond trail markers hammered into trees let you know you’re on the right path. The route parallels the highway for 1.25 miles before heading south across a concrete bridge and following along Woods Lake Road (which goes directly to the lake in the summertime).

You’ll know you’ve reached the lake when you see the “Woods Lake Picnic Area” sign. The picnic area might be hard to find under the snow, but you can usually see BBQ pits peeking out from the powder.  The lake freezes over in winter and gets cloaked with snow.

If not for an unfrozen section where the lake meets the stream you might think you’d hit a snowy meadow. Be smart and careful: Do not to head too far past the tree line; the ice might not be stable. It’s best just to enjoy the setting safely. Snowy granite cliffs rise above the south side of the lake and trees poking out mark a small island that you can swim to in the summertime. Return the way you came.

Park at the Meiss Meadow Sno-Park; permits required. Permits can be purchased online or from a local vendor, $5 a day or $25 for the season (can be used at any California Sno-Park). Snowshoe rentals available at Hope Valley Cross Country in Hope Valley ($30/day) or Mountain Mikes in South Lake Tahoe ($16/day). Make sure to wear appropriate waterproof gear and gloves. Dog-friendly!

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