Snowplant, below Round Lake, Meiss Roadless Country Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Sprouting Paper Plant
Dardanelles Lake from Tahoe Rim near Showers Lake.
Dardanelles Lake viewed from the Tahoe Rim North of Showers Lake


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Dardanelles Lake
Trail Junction

Backpacking Up from the South Upper Truckee Road  or Down from the Big Meadow Trailheads





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Christmas Valley Burnt Area

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Trail Emerging from Spring Snow

Trail emerges from melting Spring Snow.

Tracking the location of the trail by the cut timber sticking out of the rapidly melting Spring Snow of 2010. We are looking to the Southeast approaching the Dardanelles Lake trail junction.

Hiking Map South
Meiss Country Roadless Area
30 min Hiking Map
Echo Summit to Round Top Lake

Miles and Elevations
South Upper Truckee to Meiss Meadow

Forum Comments

Our trail traversing the mountainside on the way up here is easier than the steep climb up to the Burnt Flat from the trailhead, but it is still a difficult climb. As all this climbing begins from the trailhead, take it easy. No need to burn ourselves out on the first day!

Our trail here is still very "cozy," as the mountain's flank rising from both sides of the creek are steep and close-in, with the forest cover seeming to fill in the rest of the space.

After a sturdy 1.75 miles of steady uphill traversing we arrive at the Dardanelles Lake trail junction.

South: Christmas Valley Burnt Area                                                           North: Big Meadow Trail Junction

Dardanelles Lake Trail Junction

Dardanelles Lake trail junction.

The new trail post has returned to the old "Lake Valley" designation of Christmas Valley. Nice.


Dardanelles Lake Trail Junction

South Upper Truckee Road Trailhead
to the
Dardanelles Lake Trail Junction

Meiss Country Roadless Area


2.58 miles from the South Upper Truckee Road trailhead.

Mileage to Dardanelles Lake
1.14 miles from this trail junction to Dardanelles Lake

3.72 miles from South Upper Truckee to Dardanelles Lake.

Mileage South to Round Lake
.81 of a mile.

Mileage to Big Meadow Trailhead
.23 of a mile South to Big Meadow trail junction.

2.68 total miles Northeast from Big Meadow junction below Round Lake to Big Meadow Trailhead on Highway 89.

Dardanelles Lake is at 7760, a 1240 foot rise from the South Upper Truckee Road trail head.

In other words, we drop down 40 feet from this junction to Dardanelles Lake.

The Dardanelles Lake Trail Junction in Early June 2010.

Miles and Elevations

15 minute Topo hiking MAP

30 minute Topo hiking Map



Dardanelles Lake from Above

  View of Dardanelles Lake from near Showers Lake.  
  Dardanelles Lake from Showers Lake, Meiss Country Roadless Area.  

This view is from the West of Dardanelles Lake hiking South from Echo Summit to Showers Lake.

We can't see Dardanelles Lake from the trail junction between South Upper Truckee and Round Lake.

Balzacom's notes on his and his wife's cross-country exploration are informative.

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Post up notes and advice about your hikes and backpacking trips into Dardanelles Lake.

Dardanelles Lake Forum


Hiking Above the Dardanelles Trail Junction
The Trail South

Backpacking above Dardanelles Lake trail junction.

View Southeast hiking Southeast climbing above the Dardanelles Lake trail junction on our way to Round Lake.

We will shortly encounter the Big Meadow trail junction branching off to the Northeast.


Ari on the Trail

Ari backpacking Spring Snow in the High Sierra.

Looking North at Ari between the Dardanelles Lake and Big Meadow trail junctions.

We can see the valley our tributary follows up the mountain is opening up a bit.

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South: Christmas Valley Burnt Area                                                           North: Big Meadow Trail Junction

Dardanelles Lake Trail Junction

Short Sweet Backpacking Trips

A fine short local trip out of The South Upper Truckee Road is to Dardanelles Lake. Dardanelles Lake is located a total of 3.72 miles from the South Upper Truckee Road trailhead.

This is a very easy trip, due to the short distance. But it is steep up to the Dardanelles trail junction. If you are just starting to backpack, a trip up to Dardanelles Lake offers a fine introduction to High Sierra backpacking.

It's a little bite, but it has bite.

Take one night at Dardanelles Lake, then take the next short but steep 1.95 mile hike up to Round Lake for night two. The next day after that we will have the steep 4 mile downhill hike to and out of the mountains through the South Upper Truckee Trailhead.

Though the trail up to the Dardanelles Lake trail junction is steep and difficult from the South Upper Truckee trailhead, it is not far, and the short distance allows us to take our time.

Big Meadow Trailhead

For an even easier trip to Dardanelles Lake, we can enter through the Big Meadow trail head on Highway 89. From this trail head it is 2.68 miles down to the Big Meadow-Round Lake trail junction, pictured on the next guide page South. Turn North, (Right) down mountain from the Big Meadow-Round Lake junction to hike a quarter-mile down Christmas Valley to this Dardanelles Trail Junction.

The Dardanelles Lake trail junction is 1.14 miles from Dardanelles Lake. From the Big Meadow trailhead on Highway 89 to Dardanelles Lake our hike is around 4.05 mostly downhill miles.
My point here for us out of shape or recovering couch potatoes is that it will be much less difficult climbing back out of Dardanelles Lake to the Big Meadow trailhead than climbing up to Dardanelles Lake from the South Upper Truckee Trail head.

In other words, the Big Meadow trail head offers very easy access, much easier than the South Upper Truckee trail head, to Dardanelles Lake.

The easiest trip to Dardanelles Lake starts at Big Meadow Trailhead on Highway 89 down to Dardanelles Lake, then exits by hiking down through the South Upper Truckee Trailhead. This particular trip is almost all down-mountain.

Our other option when we are backpacking in through the Big Meadow trailhead is to turn South, or left, when we hit the Round Lake trail junction to hike the remaining .58 mile up to Round Lake's most beautiful campsites and vistas.

See the trail guide pages that follow this page South, or click on the "This Map" link at the top of this page to locate these trail junctions and lakes on the USGS 7.5 maps.

Though I do not use the Big Meadow trail head too often, it makes access easy for those too weak or lazy to get to Round Lake or Dardanelles Lake coming up from the South Upper Truckee Trailhead.

It's a great first step into Sierra Nevada backpacking.

Big Meadow Trailhead is a great place to break in kids, old folks, or see how we are recovering from injury, if we are not launching a big hike down the Sierra Crest.

I recommend and prefer coming up from the South Upper Truckee Trailhead.


This is one of my favorite local areas for four-Season travel in the Tahoe Basin. It was here that I first began exploring Winter travel in the High Sierras. The reasons are rather simple.

First, I am very familiar with the area and terrain. Knowing the terrain is vital for your first snow trips. Second, there are relatively easy escapes if things go wrong: Highway 88 to the South, Highway 50 to the North, and Highway 89 to the East. And finally, all of these highways make it easy to hitch in and hitch out from any of the trail heads.

Check out Balzacom's notes about cross country travel here.


7.5 Hiking Topo Map
Meyers to Carson Pass

   30 min Hiking Topo Map
Meiss Roadless Area thru Carson Pass

Miles and Elevations


Next page South
Big Meadow Trail Junction

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Backpacking Trail Guide


Christmas Valley Burnt Area

Compass for trail guide direction.

Backpacking Trail Guide


Big Meadow Trail Junction

Backpacker Forums

General Sierra Nevada hiking thoughts to relate?

Post 'em on
The Backpacker's Forums.

High Sierra Backpacking
High Sierra Backpacking

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 South Upper Truckee trailhead.

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General comments about the South Upper Truckee to Carson Gap section of the High Sierra trails, or this particular location:

South Upper Truckee to the Carson Gap
Dardanelles Lake Trail Junction

Tell us what you know!

South: Christmas Valley Burnt Area                                                           North: Big Meadow Trail Junction

Alex Wierbinski

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Frosted Backpack

Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

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Snug tent after Snow Storm
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