Red Lake is located on Highway 88 on the road to Kirkwood Ski Resort just past Hope Valley, California. A small parking lot is maintained by CalTrans, and the main highway is usually well-plowed throughout the snow season. This area is a popular choice for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing. The main trail heads out to the west from the parking lot and traverses the main hill to a peak just below Carson Pass. It is a fairly easy hike on a fair weather day, though the weather can change quickly at this altitude.
With beautiful mountain views and a sweeping perspective to the east into Hope Valley, this adventure provides some excellent photo opportunities. In spite of some road noise from Highway 88, the adventure is a short walk into some truly expansive country. With no loop option around the lake, the trip is best completed as a there-and-back. Always be mindful of the conditions as you plan your route; this area is prone to heavy snowfalls and unpredictable weather, and avalanche hazards are common. Please check local avalanche conditions before heading out.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.