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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