Snowplant Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Sprouting Paper Plant above Round Lake
Past Round Lake you get a view of Lake Tahoe.
Brief glimpses of Lake Tahoe through the trees as you climb


The Trails



Current Weather Conditions

Weather Notes
Northern High Sierras
Central High Sierras
Southern High Sierras


Gear List
Gettin Started
Testing yourself and your gear
Gear Reviews


top of page

Backpacking Meiss Country, Meyers to Round Lake

Four-Season Hiking and Backpacking into Meiss Country Roadless Area





Trail Arts

The art of walking
Physical Preperation


Trail Skills

The trail
Off the trail
Camp skills





Photo Catagories
Trail Stories
Trail Culture
News and Science


Terms and Conditions of Use

top of page

Trail Guide INDEX NORTH South Upper Truckee Trailhead SOUTH Climbing Christmas Valley to Burnt Area Topo Map South Upper Truckee to Carson Pass Maps Index MILES AND ELEVATIONS Miles and Elevations Index Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit All permitting Authorities Tahoe to Whitney on YouTube

Lower Trail in all Seasons

On this page

Winter: Video below

Summer Trailhead

see the previous page for directions to the trailhead

Weather Forecast

Local Ground Stations


Ground Reporting Stations

Weather Page

Dense Forests, Heavy Forest Floor Liter

Spring Delights: Snowplants and Rain


USGS Topo Hiking Map
click the red dots on the maps!

> Forum <

Hiking South into the Forest March 18, 2010

Video: Winter Trailhead

  Backpacking our route in Winter  
See the full list of Videos from this Winter backpacking trip.

The South Upper Truckee trailhead is located where the River coming South down the mountain flattens out in Christmas Valley.

The new trail route (2009) avoids the center of this flat near the river and immediately begins gently climbing into the forests along the Eastern flank of the valley South of the trailhead.

Summer Trailhead

  A very brief flat, before the climb to Round Lake, our traditional first night campsite.   Deep forest rising out of the Tahoe Basin.  
  The first steps out of the Tahoe Basin are gentle   Trail into Meiss Country from South Upper Truckee  
Very Brief flat before the 1560 foot Climb to Round Lake begins. Deep Forest past trailhead.  

Where we are

South Upper Truckee Road Trailhead

Meiss Country Roadless Area

Gently rising forest just past the trailhead South

Elevation: 6680, rising 160' out of the trailhead.

Mileage: .3 miles from South Upper Truckee Trailhead.

After this brief gentle climb, the trail steepens.

Miles and Elevations

Heavy Forest Floor Litter

  Forest Floor litter ready to bust into flames.  
  Dangerous level of forest level threatens massive fire  

This beautiful forest is in danger of burning up due to the dense accumulation of dead and dried litter. This is the face of decades of fire suppression.



Controlled Burn

I understand that The LTBMU is going to try to controlled-burn this forest litter in an attempt to prevent a disastrous fire. (2011) Yikes!

This is a classic "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. A "controlled" burn here could easily get out of control.

I just hope they do it in Spring or Fall, while it is still moist. Otherwise keeping any burn controlled in here will be a real handful.

  This forest trail is very quiet.       The new trail.  
  Dense forest entering Meiss Roadless Area The trail moves East and up out of fall line  
  The quiet is a function of the dampening effect imparted by the density of the forest, the density of the forest floor litter, and the shape of the valley this all sits within. It looks great, but the trail has been lengthened.  

Early Spring Delights: Brand New Snowplants

Natural fluorescence: the Snowplant.
Snowplant growing between trailhead and Round Lake

Snowplants were bursting through the forest Floor everywhere, adding intense contrast to the dark shades and shadows in the dense forest.  This image was taken in June. Note this Snowplant is rising out of the ground before a fallen tree semi-submerged in the fully saturated forest floor litter.

The Snowplants were long-gone when I came through again in July.

Check out the Fungus Forum to post up entries about fungus, while you can leave comments on the Snowplant entry.

Living Things Forum

Snowplant references: Forest Service, and Blooming Plants

Light rains, showers and fogs blessed my first day on the trail for a brief 5 night trip to Round Top Lake in early June of 2009. Round Top Lake sits above Carson Pass to its West, and back. It was 54° at 3 pm in Mists and Rains when I arrived, and 41° when I arrived at Round Lake.
Rain down Low, snow up high

The earthy smell of the moist forest was refreshing.

Previous years this rain would have been snow. Things have changed in the High Sierras. Winter begins later, has Less snow, the snow is wetter, the temps are higher, and earlier thaws are typical of the changes. I suggest seeing the Sierras now, before the changes completely alter the experience.

June Temperatures

Typically in the high twenties through the low thirties during the night.

Daytime temperatures ranged from the high forties to low fifties.

The Morning Mists on the mountains were just incredible. Their movements were both delicate and articulate reflections of the changing temps and atmospheric moisture.

 I cannot articulate it well, but the trees interact with the mists, maybe because of their dampening effect on the delicate temperature changes that drive the mists, maybe because of their aspiration. Maybe both.

Fine mists decorate Christmas Valley during all seasons, but are less likely during the Summer.

High Sierra Mosquito Cycle


July Temperatures

Departing for Mount Whitney through the South Upper Truckee Trail head

July 15 to August 28, 2009

Temperatures in the Northern Sierras during July are quite different than in June.

At 11am it was 91° in Pollack Pines, when I crossed the Western Slope of the Sierras, heading to the trailhead. Wow.

It was 88° in South Lake Tahoe during the day, and I recorded 68° next to Round Lake at 7 pm. This is hot weather for High Sierra backpacking.

The next 11 days would bring daily highs in the mid-to-high 80s between Lake Tahoe and Sonora Pass. Afternoon thunderstorms finally broke the daily heat.


The Tahoe Basin can experience a wide range of Temperatures during Winter. The key to a successful Winter trip is to gear yourself properly for the coldest temperatures possible during your trip's time frame.

To ascertain what's going on with the weather, check out this video.

This High Sierra Weather Page has a wide range of tools to determine weather conditions and forecasts as well as snow depth and temp in specific locations up and down the Sierra Crest.

Low single degree temps are common in the mountains around Lake Tahoe during Winter. Take a look at my four-season backpacking gear list.

North: South Upper Truckee Trailhead                               South: Climbing Christmas Valley, Burnt Area

Heading South through the South Upper Truckee Road Trailhead

A brief but beautiful walk through a dense forest marks the beginning of your Backpacking trip out of the South Upper Truckee trailhead.

On your way to the trail head you may notice the deepening quiet. Once you enter the forest its dampening effect seems to be magnified by the shape of the valley, creating a zone of almost palatable quiet.

But not silence. Though dense and dampening, we are still close to the bustle of South Lake Tahoe. But even here, right past the trailhead, the protective arms of the forest and the narrow aspect of valley almost instantly dampen the sounds of civilization.

Shortly we will fill the void of disappearing civil noise with the sounds of our lungs and legs straining to get enough oxygen to bring us up to Round Lake, where we will spend our first night of the 45 (or so) evenings we will spend sleeping on the trail to bring us out at the Whitney Portal.

7.5 Topo Hiking Map: Meyers to Carson Pass       

    30 min Topo Hiking Map: Meiss Roadless Area to Carson Pass Management Area

Miles and Elevations

Next page South: Climbing Christmas Valley, Burnt Area

Backpacking Trail Guide


South Upper Truckee Trailhead

Compass pointing the way North and South along the High Sierra Nevada trails.

Backpacking Trail Guide


Climbing Christmas Valley, Burnt Area

Backpacker Forums

General Sierra Nevada hiking thoughts to relate?

Post it on: TahoetoWhitney.Org

On the Forum you can browse trail locations and add your experiences, comments, questions (& pictures and videos if you Register...) about hiking South out of the Echo Summit Trail Head.
General comments about the South Upper Truckee to Carson Gap section of the High Sierra trails, or this particular location:
Section: South Upper Truckee to the Carson Gap
Segment: Gently rising forest past trailhead

North: South Upper Truckee Trailhead                               South: Climbing Christmas Valley, Burnt Area

Home Page
Contact Alex Wierbinski

top of page

Frosted Backpack

Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to the High Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

Snug tent after Snow Storm
© Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail