Red Lake Peak Loop

Meiss County Roadless Area

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California

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Red Lake Peak Loop


  • The trailhead for Red Lake Peak Loop.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • High altitude western junipers.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • Trail up the pass.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • - Red Lake Peak Loop
  • The pond at the pass. Turn right up the hill toward Red Lake Peak.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • Heading up the ridge.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • Unidentified lichen (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • View of Caples Lake.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • View of Kirkwood Ski Resort.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • View of Lake Tahoe.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • View of Red Lake.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • Route 88 below.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • The final half mile to Red Lake Peak.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • Return to the ridge for the route down.- Red Lake Peak Loop
  • Follow this ridge back to the parking lot.- Red Lake Peak Loop
Overview + Weather
Beautiful views. Healthy climb.
No obvious trail in sections.
The trail is difficult to find in sections.
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, CA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,518.00 ft (462.69 m)
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.20 mi (6.76 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
8,551.00 ft (2,606.34 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


Red Lake Peak has some of the most interesting history in the entire Lake Tahoe Area. It was first climbed in 1844 by Lieutenant John C. Fremont and Charles Preuss. This climb is important for two reasons: theirs was the first known mountain ascent in the Sierra, albeit a small and modest one; further, it is thought that the occasion was the first time non-Natives had seen Lake Tahoe.

This strenuous loop begins at the Carson Pass parking area. You will set out on a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail. The first mile traverses along a hillside covered in aspen and gnarled western juniper. Before long, you will begin climbing toward the 8,800-foot pass. Once you reach the small pond at the pass, you will turn right and start climbing the volcanic rock covered ridge. Note that while this section has no obvious trail, there is very little vegetation and the rocks are mostly small, so the terrain is not too difficult. You will, however, be climbing over 1,000 feet in about a mile. For a more relaxed trail, consider continuing on the PCT to the Meiss Family Cabin instead.

Continue along the ridge until you reach the fantastic view of Red Lake and peaks beyond. This is a great spot for photos and a snack. The loop continues south from here toward the parking area. If you wish, you can continue along the ridge toward the peak for another half-mile and about 400 feet of elevation gain; otherwise, make your way back down the ridge for a few hundred feet, watching for a southbound trail. This trail can be steep in some sections, but it heads directly to the parking area. Follow this trail for another mile to reach your car.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(16 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(57 within a 30 mile radius)

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Adventure Community

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17 Members
Who's Done It
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62 Adventures Explored
61 Adventures Published

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