Caples Lake to Kirkwood

Summary  Link to more information about summary

Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 4.7 miles one-way
7800 feet
+850, -850 feet
Navigation Map and compass
Time Half day
Season Late December through April
Snowmobiles Use Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Caples Lake
Start Dam at west end of Caples Lake on Highway 88. The parking here is minimal at best. As an alternative you can begin this tour at Kirkwood Cross Country and Snowshoe Center at Kirkwood Meadows. Ask at the Center if there is a fee for parking.

Description   Link to more information about description

Variety is the keyword in describing this one-way tour, but the distinguishing feature is the final downhill run at Kirkwood Ski Resort.

This tour begins with the first 2.9 miles of the Emigrant Lake tour. It is an additional 0.8 mile and 500 feet of elevation gain to the lake.

The starting point for the Caples to Kirkwood tour is the western-most dam that forms Caples Lake. You will need to ski to here if you begin at Kirkwood Cross Country and Snowshoe Center. There are two ways to do this.

North side of Highway 88
From the Center ski 0.4 mile east along the north side of the highway, gaining 100 feet, until you are opposite the dam and then cross the highway to the dam. Be very careful when crossing the highway. It is not safe to walk this 0.4-mile section of road because the narrow road is often icy and vehicles can lose control as they make the turn at the dam. This alternative is of beginner-intermediate difficulty.

South side of Highway 88
This is the safest route by which to ski from the Center to the dam because it crosses the highway in a straight, level section. However, this route is of intermediate technical difficulty. This route begins by crossing the highway at the Center, climbing and then descending (approximately +200, -100 feet) in 0.4 mile as you ski east to the dam.

Be aware that it is never safe to ski on Caples Lake.

Mileage Log   Link to more information about mileage log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Waypoint 1 to 2
Miles: 0.0 - 2.2
Elevation change: Nil

From the dam (1) ski southeast along the shore of Caples Lake for 2.2 miles until you reach the southern tip of the lake (2).

Waypoint 2 to 3
Miles: 2.2 - 2.9
Elevation change: +300 feet

Turn south (right) before crossing the creek and ascend along the west (right) side of the creek for 0.7 mile until you reach a location where a short, moderate slope rises to what appears to be a high point to the west (3).

Waypoint 3 to 4
Miles: 2.9 - 3.0
Elevation change: +100 feet

Turn southwest (right) and climb for 0.1 mile until you reach the clearing at Emigrant Valley (4). The bottoms of chairlifts 3 and 4 of Kirkwood Ski Resort are located in the clearing.

Waypoint 4 to 5
Miles: 3.0 - 3.5
Elevation change: +450 feet

Climb northwest (right) for 0.5 mile to the top of chairlift 3 (5). Do not ski on the groomed slopes as you ascend.

Waypoint 5 to 6
Miles: 3.5 - 4.7
Elevation change: -850 feet

Descend the intermediate and then beginner ski runs for 1.2 miles to the Main Lodge (6) at Kirkwood Ski Resort.

Print version of map for tour