Little Round Top

Summary  Link to more information about summary

Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 10.0 miles round trip
8550 feet
+2100, -2100 feet
Navigation Map
Time Full day
Season Late-December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Use Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Carson Pass and Caples Lake
Start Meiss Sno-Park, 0.1 mile west of Carson Pass on Highway 88.

Description   Link to more information about description

Little Round Top, not well known as a destination but well worth the effort, gives you spectacular vistas, magnificent views and wonderful panoramas — whatever you want to call them the ski along the ridge to the peak provides your eyes with sights to behold. There are few tours in the Sierra that offer this quality of scenery which includes views of the Upper Truckee River drainage with Lake Tahoe in the background, the peaks of Desolation Wilderness also to the north, and the peaks to the south all the way down to Sonora Pass. Of course Round Top on the south side of Highway 88 is near at hand.

Image from Red Lake Peak of ridge with Little Round Top at far right.
Ridge leading to Little Round Top at far right

This tour begins with a 1.0 mile climb to the broad saddle to the northwest of Carson Pass. From there you ski along a ridge for 4.0 miles to Little Round Top. You will cross several intermediate high points before reaching the peak. At points the ridge will be broad and elsewhere narrow, but it is passable the entire way.

Route-finding along the ridge is simple given that the drop-off on either side is steep. Another feature of the ridge is the notorious high winds that create large cornices on its northeast side. Be careful and don't ski near that edge.

This tour is best saved for a day when you know the wind will be low. Regardless, the winds may have scoured the ridge-top bare in places early and late in the snow season forcing you to take off your skis and walk. Don't let this discourage you. Wind-packed snow is also common.

The tour to Little Round Top is long, but it is not necessary to go all the way in order to enjoy the bounties of this tour. Ski as far as you desire and then turn back.

Instead of returning to the trailhead, from Little Round Top you can ski to Caples Lake as described in the Carson Pass to Caples Lake Via Little Round Top tour. That tour is actually shorter in length than the one described here, but requires more navigation.

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 - 1.0
Elevation change: +300, -50 feet

From the Meiss Sno-Park (1) work your way west for 0.5 mile while climbing gradually and then ascend northwest for another 0.5 mile until you reach the obvious broad saddle (2). Early and late in the snow season you may find the south-facing slopes leading to the saddle partially barren. Also, take care to avoid the slopes beneath the southwest ridge of Red Lake Peak, which may be avalanche prone.

Waypoint 2 to 3
Miles: 1.0 - 1.6
Elevation change: +300 feet

Ascend northwest for 0.6 mile until you reach 9108 (3) on the topo . This high point can hardly be called a peak.

Waypoint 3 to 4
Miles: 1.6 - 2.5
Elevation change: +350 feet

Continue ascending northwest for 0.9 mile until you reach the next high point (4).

Waypoint 4 to 5
Miles: 2.5 - 3.2
Elevation change: +150, -150 feet

Continue to the northwest, cross a high point, and then ascend for a total of 0.7 mile to Peak 9422 (5).

Waypoint 5 to 6
Miles: 3.2 - 3.9
Elevation change: +200, -300 feet

Continue northwest by descending to a saddle and then climbing for a total of 0.7 miles to Peak 9325 (6).

Waypoint 6 to 7
Miles: 3.9 - 5.0
Elevation change: +300 feet

Continue northwest, at first over fairly level terrain and then climbing for a total of 1.1 miles to the summit of Little Round Top (7).

Return to trailhead
Miles: 5.0 - 10.0
Elevation change: +500, -1600 feet

Retrace the route for 5.0 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Print version of map for tour