Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,518.00 ft (462.69 m)
Trail type
4.20 mi (6.76 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee


Beautiful views. Healthy climb.


No obvious trail in sections.

Trailhead Elevation

8,551.00 ft (2,606.34 m)


Big vistas


Nearby Adventures

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California


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