Snowplant, below Round Lake, Meiss Roadless Country Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Sprouting Paper Plant
Spring runoff saturated trail with pond.
Spring Thaw runoff conditions. Saturated trail with spontaneous pond formation during early June. Heavy Mosquito Conditions!
Paperplant sprouts


The Trails



Current Weather Conditions

Weather Notes
Northern High Sierras
Central High Sierras
Southern High Sierras


Gear List
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Meiss Meadow

Round Lake

Backpacking the High Sierra during the Spring Thaw





Trail Arts

The art of walking
Physical Preperation


Trail Skills

The trail
Off the trail
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7.5 min Map

South Upper Truckee
Carson Pass
30 min Map





All Sierra Weather



maps index
Hiking South

Round Lake during Spring
Rolling-Rising Terrain to Meiss Meadow

Swampy Spring trail below Meiss Meadow, 2009.

Once we climb above the upper meadow above the Southeast shore of Round Lake we enter zones of forest broken by strips of meadow. The terrain is zebra-stripped by meadow, forest and rock. Mostly meadow and forest, though.

The good thing is that once we get above the lower meadow above Round Lake the terrain tilts its angle of ascent towards level, not down to level hiking, but closer. We'll hike over and then back down a couple of low forested rises, with a couple of meadows wedged between them, on our way up to the trail junction in Meiss Meadow.

Topo Hiking Map
Meiss Country Roadless Area
30 min Hiking Map
Echo Summit to Round Top Lake
We are hiking up 320 feet over 2.12 miles
Round Lake to Meiss Meadow

Round Lake
8080 feet

4 miles South of the South Upper Truckee Road Trailhead.

Trail Junction at Meiss Cabin
8400 feet

2.12 miles South
Round Lake.

Carson Gap
8800 feet

1.52 miles South
Meiss Cabin

Round Lake to Carson Gap
3.64 miles up 720 feet

As we have two low rises to cross between our position hiking South out of the upper meadow above Round Lake, we will effectively climb more than the 320 feet of total elevation separating Round Lake from Meiss Meadow.

Check out the Meiss Country Hiking map for terrain details. It looks like we're probably climbing an extra hundred feet of elevations beyond the gross elevation difference between Round Lake and Meiss Meadow.

This difference between the total elevation between two points and the actual total of elevation we hike between two points is completely dependent on how many, and how long the down-mountain sections of trail total up to between the climbing sections.

An old saying of mine is,
"Every climb has descents, and every descent has climbs."

Check out the most detailed local maps possible to ascertain the true climbing and descending totals.

Miles and Elevations
South Upper Truckee to Meiss Meadow



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Meadow and Forest

Above Round Lake we enter a low-inclination rolling terrain rising towards Meiss Meadow. The snow covered mountains to the West comprise the Southwestern Tahoe Rim Mountains, running South down to its Southernmost point, down to where the Carson Range turns North for its run up the Eastern shore of Lake Tahoe.

Our exit from the Tahoe Basin lays in a low gap between these ranges.

Below, we're looking Southwest from the top of the lower meadow above Round Lake.

That looks like Little Round Top in the Middle-Left distance.

Flattening out towards Meiss Meadow after Climbing South from Round Lake
The trail routes circle around and above this lower meadow. These meadow areas are full of brush and saturated during early Spring. The trail routes circle around these areas, when possible. The route South from Round Lake pushes East, up to the edge of the forest to avoid this drainage meadow.

A Web of Seasonal Creeks

Runoff flows everywhere during early June.

When the Spring Thaw gets going the ground starts flowing.

Runoff everywhere on June 6

Spring Runoff begins flowing everywhere when a substantial snow pack begins melting in earnest.

Besides flowing water, the ground is completely saturated in many places. comments

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High Sierra Seasonal Transitions

The Spring Thing

The sun is rising up higher in the sky every Spring day, stretching out the length of the day and heating them up, while within the same time frame the Spring storms are gradually diminishing and finally dissappearing. All of these trends naturally draw the High Sierra Nevada Summer backpacker's attention to the mountains.

As backpackers we start asking ourselves the perennial question as each Spring approaches: "When will the High Sierra Nevada Backpacking Trails open?" Snow across high mountain passes is our top concern, or I should say it is our concern at the top of the mountain. Spring backpacking offers a wide range of concerns at every level of the mountain, and especially between the mountains, where great rivers of runoff rage.

Below the snow-filled mountain passes the trails are emerging from under the snowpack as creeks feeding larger, raging creeks which in turn feed the rivers surging down great canyons between our mountain peaks, and these great thaw swollen rives surge out of the mountains. My point is that the rivers at the bottom of the valleys between Sierra Nevada Mountain peaks can be more dangerous than the slick snow blocking the passes across the tops of the Sierra peaks.

All the terrain is collecting, organizing, and transporting this vast runoff into powerful flows that are often running too high and too fast to cross anytime near the peak of the Spring Thaw.

The peak of the Spring Thaw is a powerful force of nature, and I don't screw around with crossing rivers when nature is pushing its peak flows. Fording is one of the classic situations where the phrase, "better safe than sorry-or dead" perfectly applies.

Saturation in Meiss Meadow and Below
Water does not just run across the surface of the terrain across Meiss Meadow during the peak periods of an intense Spring Thaw. The terrain itself becomes a medium of water transport.
Powerful things start small. At the bottom-edge of the melting snow pack we see the first tiny drops of what will rapidly become a relentless, dangerous, and a life giving force of nature. The tiny water droplets dripping off the shrinking edge of the snow pack gives new meaning to the phrase, "great things have small beginnings."
These water drops form into little trickles, which merge with other tiny flows to become "creeklets," which we will likely first see as we observe that our trail up to the snowpack has become a creek draining the meltwater from the snowpack, as our trail emerges from under the snowpack.
Each section of our trail emerging from under the snow carries water long before it again carries people. Sections of our trail turn into Spring Thaw creeks. It is only during Spring that many aspects of the logic of trail design and construction become apparent.
Meiss Meadow fills with moisture as the thaw progresses on the mountains circling it, eventually overwhelming the capacity of its web of creeks feeding the South Upper Truckee River to drain the meadow. This "back-up" causes the soils of the meadow to become super-saturated, and the weight of this water backing up in Meiss Meadow begins pushing water down the mountain through the soil itself.

Hiking up to Meiss Meadow from Round Lake during the height of a heavy Spring Thaw shows us that flows of Spring runoff waters are not limited to the surface of the terrain. During the height of a heavy Spring Thaw the runoff flows through the soil, moving down mountain without the need for a creek or river. This happens in the terrain below the crescent of Meiss Meadow, wedged in under the surround ring of Sierra Mountains making up the Southern end of the Tahoe Basin.

Crossing these saturated soil conditions pushes us to find the nearest islands of hard rock stepping stones, as each step into these areas of super-saturated terrain threatens to overtop our hightop boots as we sink deep into areas of fully saturated soils. The release of water from the snowpack is not just making the trails run like creeks, super-saturating the soils, and pushing the river levels up.
It's also fueling the launch of massive clouds of mosquitoes.

The same engine of life that is driving the wildflowers, the baby chipmunks and tiny chicks is also driving forward the lives of everything that eats them. Remember: Life Eats Itself to Survive. Spring is driving forward the predators as well as the prey. We're more concerned about a creature that combines the worse elements of parasites with those of predators, the mosquito.
Huge clouds of vicious mosquitoes rise out of these saturated soils and meadows. Thankfully armies of beautiful wildflower emerge from these same saturated soils, countering the mosquito's bite of Spring with its flowering beauty. Thankfully, mosquitoes are not the only form of life blossoming with the rise of Spring!

Birds, squirrels, bears, coyotes, and virtually every living thing in the High Sierra begins feasting and fucking with a hearty gusto and clear joy as this engine of life, this great blossoming of of life is fueled by Spring's rising heat and moisture.
If you have ever hung out with a family of baby chipmunks at 10,000 feet during early Spring, you know what I mean. The baby chipmunks play with the baby chicks, which all play with the baby rabbits. They are all having a great time. Until a hawk eats them. It is really hard not to play with these little bastards, but we must not disturb the natural balance. I figure just hanging out with the baby chicks and chipmunks gives them a break from air and ground attack while I'm hanging around.
The beauty we can see revolves around our observation that the Spring Thaw is a powerful exploding kaleidoscope of cause and effect directly tying together the physical and the biological worlds.
Water+Sun+Life=KaBoom, an explosion of life!

The Spring Thaw is a Unique and Powerful Engine of Life that humans have screwed around with, and screwed up. Bad Humans!

The power of the Spring Thaw passing through the living terrain is an early expression of the rising energy of Summer, and its progression will tell us about the impending character of the upcoming Summer. The Sun rising higher in the sky is melting the water while its increasing solar energy is powering a dynamic Spring Blooming of Life that climbs the mountainsides in lockstep with the retreating snow. The timing and power of the Spring Thaw determines the character of the impending Summer.
Spring backpacking trips offer glimpses into the unique beauties of the operation of this engine of life driving fertility across the High Sierra. It will tell us much, once we figure out how to withstand and enjoy the difficulty of fording, the muddy and wet trails flowing with runoff, the hard to cross snow, and the relentless mosquito attack.

Early Spring Sweet Spot

Our real question is, "where do I fit into this cycle?" There is a sweet spot for early Spring snow backpackers when the Spring snow storms moderate, the temps rise, but the thaw has not yet begun to surge the rivers or collapse meadow snow cover in earnest. Spring snow backpacking in the High Sierra during this sweet spot is a real delight. Then the Spring Thaw begins in earnest.

The Surge
The power of the Spring Thaw drives raging rivers, pushes tributary creek crossings to levels and speeds too dangerous to ford, saturates the soils, makes trails flow with water like creeks, breeds mosquito populations thick as a dense fog, all while softening the great expanses of high altitude snow into a quagmire of slow, difficult, and a very draining experience to travel across. Post-holing sucks. The height of the Spring Thaw is a dangerous and difficult time to backpack the High Sierra, yet it offers a ringside seat to the revving up of the engine of life up and down the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The Spring Thaw is an engine of life that not only recharges the webs of life in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but delivers life-giving water all over California.

It could be the engine of life that restores your spirit, too.

Late Spring Sweet Spot

As the Spring Thaw tapers down the rivers recede, the meadows and soils harden up and the trails stop flowing like creeks. The mosquito population stops climbing, and the snow remnants in the mountain passes shrink down and become predictable to their enevitable end.
This is when we are happy to be postholing while crossing steep sections of snow-covered mountain passes along the trail. The wet snow sucks us into it, rather than sliding us off it slick-frozen surface. That's preferable... The Spring thing is still cooking, but the deadly river crossings and dangerous mountain passes have moderated into manageable experiences.

Spring soil saturation floats a pond in a Sierra meadow.

During this period we can still observe the massive blossoming of life, but have to deal with fewer life-threatening obstacles to get there to see it. The mosquitoes are still deadly during this period, but their domination stretches deep into Summer long after the Thaw has ended.

Spring to Summer Transition Information
Snow camping in the High Sierra      High Sierra Mosquito Cycle         Camp and Trail

Snow Backpacking Videos
High Sierra Winter Gear Spring Snow March 2010 Spring Snow June 2010

Let Summer Begin!
After the last super-saturated soils dry out Summer begins, bringing easy fords, hard trail surfaces with no pesky patches of snow clinging to steep sections of trail, and diminishing mosquitoes until the wet meadows finally dry out to effectively draws mosquito populations down to zero. Oh, happy days!

Every Spring Thaw cycle is unique. Its timing, duration, and intensity are dependent on the specifics of each interlocked seasonal transition of the High Sierra climate.

I have been observing and tracking the annual transition from Winter to Summer through series of Winter and Spring backpacking trips from the early 1990s until injury in 2006 knocked me down until 2009. In 2009 I resumed my schedule until frostbite in early 2011 knocked me down again. Damn. My normal reporting on the progress of the seasons should resume in 2012 with my 5th Tahoe to Whitney backpacking trip. I frkn hope.

In the meantime I've tried to use injury time to build this guide as I rebuild my body, as possible.

Meiss Meadow
Meiss Meadow's location just below the surrounding ring of the Southern end of the Tahoe Rim mountains hemming it in makes it a collection point for a huge amount of snowmelt off these mountains.

As the Spring Thaw begins in earnest the drainage of the South Upper Truckee is insufficient to carry all of this water away, and it backs up into Meiss Meadow. The weight of the water can be sufficient to push it down mountain through the soil itself, without the help of surface flows.

This is an amazing force sculpting the soft terrain from within.

We notice this movement of water through the terrain itself while hiking this particular section of trail from Round Lake to Meiss Meadow during the height of heavy Spring Thaw seasons. We plainly see that in many locations the water is flowing down mountain through the saturated soils, pooling up in strange pools in low spots on the terrain while flowing down mountain through the mountain itself.

In other places along our trail South, such as the East flank of Raymond Peak and the South flank of Sonora Peak we can see this same type of super-saturated soil actually moving the terrain itself as water and soil all flows down the mountain together during each Spring Thaw.
This is why the trails are built up where they cross seasonally saturated meadows.

The Bottom Line

The beauty of life blooming out of the intensities of Sun and Water during the height of the Spring Thaw make it a dangerous, difficult, and delightful time to backpack the High Sierra. Don't ever let the calendar determine the date of your High Sierra Backpacking trip. Only the conditions on the ground can do that.

The key is to avoid dangerous river crossings during the peak of the Spring Thaw. The timing of the peak of the Spring Thaw varies each year, so it cannot be predicted by a calendar, but only by observing the progression of each year's specific Spring Thaw.

Don't try to ford rivers that can sweep you to your death.

The High Sierra Nevada Backpacker's Weather page is tailored to track the changing water and weather conditions in the High Sierra through the seasons.

If there is a better collection of High Sierra Backpacker Weather Resources, I have not seen it.

At some point in time the Weather Section of the trail guide will get some more love.


Wet Meadow Shrinking, June 6, '09, just below Meiss Meadow

During the heaviest periods of powerful Spring Thaw there is so much water that it actually flows through super-saturated High Sierra soils down into High Sierra rivers and lakes, without taking any surface transportation!

Above we see a way point for moisture running through the saturated soil. The low spot in the terrain pictured above has becomes a Spring Pool as the mountainside drains. The terrain itself is moving the moisture through it, as well as over its surface. Low spots in the surface terrain, such as that pictured above, become oddly situated ponds when they sit above these saturated groundwater flows.
I find it incredible how the runoff water flows through super-saturated soils.

The Spring Pond above is the surface of an underground flow. Once the pressure from the water on Meiss Meadow is relieved, these groundwater flows will decrease until the soils are no longer super-saturated. The soil will then close down, and the groundwater flows will stop.

Spring Soundscape
Sometimes we can even hear the sound of the soil sucking air as the unified weight of the sub-surface flows of water moving through the earth create a vacuum.
That burbbling and sucking sound of water through wet Earth is but one part of the Orchestra of Spring. The base line of this tune is the thunder and roaring of raging Spring Thaw rivers, the high parts are the Timpani sound of tinkling meltwater drops dripping, tinkling creeks, and in the middle of this soundscape we hear the almost-electric sound of billions of mosquito wings beating out the mid-range of this Soundtrack of Spring.
Hawks screeching, birds chirping, and backpackers talking in rhythm to the hoove-beat of ambling horses makes up the choir of Spring. I don't do much talking in the mountains. I save that up for you, here.

I find the processes and details of the workings of the physics of nature and life to be amazing! All of these processes, details, and workings are anchored in the Spring Thaw. The look, the sound, the thought and the feel of it are all the elements of a grand experience.

The Spring Thaw is not just the Engine of Life for High Sierra ecosystems. It is also the basis of social life in California. The Spring Thaw from the High Sierra fills the rivers and reservoirs of California, which in turn supports and even drives the insanity of California's MegaCities. During recent years of short and weak Winters this lack of snow has significantly diminished the power and duration of the Spring Thaw. Winters are not only getting weaker over the last two decades in the High Sierra, we have now reached the point where Winter conditons are totally dissappearing.

Other years great Winter snows with subsequent heavy Spring thaws will come. It is the "middle," the "average" Winters that are dissappearing. The extremes remain, and intensify. We are moving into a climate that will be characterized by long periods of dry Winters puncuated by overwhelmingly heavy Winters once every three to five years.

We are moving into a "Feast or Famine" cycle of water availability that will be mostly composed of "famine."

The irony is that our society is neither set up nor ready for too much nor too little water, while nature always required readiness for both. Our society is set up and operated based upon the assumption that the population of the US would grow endlessly based on the endless availability of water and energy.

Our society is based on growth, not "security," and we have outgrown our resources. Outgrowing our "resources" has devastated them, and this has made our society fundamentally insecure.

Our current belief that population, production, consumption and profits would endlessly grow still drives American perception and American policy, despite the overwhelming social, economic, political, environmental, and historical indications to the contrary.

Our focus on consuming reality, rather than experiencing it, has skewed our perspective on life, damaged life itself, and corrupted human's essential purpose and position in the web of life. Our focus on consuming reality characterizes the power and potential of human "progress" as nothing more than a generalized force of physical and spiritual destruction.

The conciousness that the web of life created is killing the web of life that created it.

I suggest balance replace growth as both the basis and goal of American society.

I'd start by applying balance to population, production, consumption and profits.

As the Sun is the source of the energy of the Spring Thaw, so is population the driver of consumption.

We cannot rebalance nature until we balance ourselves. If we don't find balance on our own, nature will do it for us. Nature is carving away the unbalanced expressions of humainty by removing their environmental basis. Nature weilds a dull sword. The fertility of the Earth will decline to the point it will not support the species damaging the balance, us, and the balance will again be restored.
Either we participate in this rebalancing or we get swept away by it.


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North: Hiking Past Round Lake                                                                 South: Meiss Cabin and Meadow

South Upper Truckee Road Trailhead

Meiss Country Roadless Area


Round Lake and the Meiss Meadow

Trail junction
of the
Pacific Crest and Tahoe to Yosemite Trails with our
Trail up from Round Lake.

8200 at the top of the upper meadow above Round Lake,
8400 at the trail junction in Meiss Meadow.


2 miles South from Round Lake to the PCT TYT trail junction in Meiss Meadow.

4 miles South from South Upper Truckee Trailhead to Round Lake.

6 miles from South Upper Truckee Trailhead to Meiss Meadow trail junction.

Miles and Elevations

Trail and Terrain

  Classic Blaze marking the Trail.    
  Classic Blaze    

Blazes adorn trees everywhere there are trees down the length of the trail. Where there are not trees there are Ducks, a stack of differently colored rocks.

These blazes along the trail from Round Lake up to Meiss Meadow lay out the basics of the "center" Winter route up to Meiss Meadow from Round Lake.

If we can stay on them. Our primairy tool for Winter route-finding will be our compass and fundamental skills and overall terrain knowledge.

Blazes will come and go, and they offer occasional clues, but our route finding skills are what will bring us through the center route to Meiss Meadow, with or without ducks.


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Build-up to preserve trail as it crosses Spring runoff areas.
Trail is wetter below Meiss Meadow, where the water runs downmountain towards Lake Tahoe
Where the trails cannot avoid fragile wet super-saturated soils, trails are built up, lined, and made to drain by design.


  Detail of Meadow trail lined build up with drainage cut-out.  
  Raised trail through wet Spring Meiss Meadow  

The slope below Meiss Meadow stays wet when Meiss Meadow drains in Spring. The trails through here are engineered to resist the Spring runoff.


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This Guide

Is set up so that you can add your perspective & experiences here to broaden the trail guide's view of this area.

Check the Forum linked to from every trail guide page for more information or to add yours. My perspective alone is insufficient to describe the terrain or the experience. Thus your perspective adds another dimension to the experience.

Questions and comments always welcome.

General: Backpacker's Forum Home Page

Topics: Backpacker's Forum

This Location: Meiss Meadow

Life Cycle
Paper Plants

Wyethia mollis
Seasonal Study

Mountain Mule Ears Sprouting in Saturated Soils

In the images below we take a look at the life cycle of the ubiquitous High Sierra plant know as "Mule Ears."

These suckers burst out of fully saturated soils, but appear to be capable of growth out of a range of moist soil conditions.

Below we see a June bloom just popping its head out of saturated soils below Meiss Meadow.

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Saturated wet Meadow full of sprouting Paper Plants.
I call these "paper plants" because every year its leaves dry out in Fall, and these dried out leaves make a rustling sound in the lightest of breezes identical to rustling sheets of paper.


Close up of Paperplant. (Miner's Cabbage, but listen to it in Fall, and tell me it's not the Paperplant

Wyethia mollis; Mountain Mule Ears, which I call Paper Plant.


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Life Cycle of Paper Plants

Wyethia mollis

Mountain Mule Ears blooming in July

After Sprouting in a profusion apparently linked to the availability of water, they bloom.

In full July bloom on drier terrain above Meiss Meadow.


Paper Plants fill every space they can survive. And they are tough. The hike up to Carson Gap looking to the Northeast up a tributairy creek of the South Upper Truckee River at Red Lake Peak to the Northeast.
We can just see the cragy volcanic formations of Red Lake Peak's rocky crest through the stand of trees in the middle distance.


  Field of Mule Ears on the way South to the Carson Gap  

In full bloom on the way South up to the Carson Gap South from Meiss Meadow.

The biggest field of paper plants I've ever seen covers the South-Southeast flank of Mount Reba, running from the the crest and upper flanks all the way down into Horse Canyon, as far as the eye can see them.

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


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North: Hiking Past Round Lake                                                                 South: Meiss Cabin and Meadow

Life Cycle of Paper Plants

Wyethia mollis

Drying out at the end of Summer, Late September

Once the flowering of the bloom ends in mid to late Fall their rapid drying quickly crisps out their leaves and the paper plants create their namesake sound on every breeze.

Below: exposed valley-side South of Carson Pass above Forestdale Creek.


Sierra Soundtrack
The rustling sound of wind through the dried leaves sounds like thousands of pieces of dry paper blowing around an ancient broken library on a dusty wind.


Paper Plant at the end of Summer: Wind through the plants sounds like an old library

Late September: Now you know why I call them paper plants. Their dried leaves brushing together in the Sierra breezes sound like paper at the end of their lives, until buried in the snows of Winter.

This picture was taken above Forestdale Creek just South of Carson Pass.

Approaching Meiss Meadow
Spring Trail Conditions
Round Lake to Meiss Meadow

Last bits of snow giving way to rising temperatures in cool forest shade approaching Meiss Meadow.
First bit of Snow heading to Round Top Lake, below Meiss Meadow

Rolling through the last forest rise before Meiss Meadow.

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Thaw Flowing through Saturated Soils

Water just runs through the soil down mountain from Meiss Meadow during Spring.
Swampy Spring trail below Meiss Meadow, 2009.

And this water pools and collects in flat spots and depressions as it slowly drains and evaporates. This pool is located on the trail, seen exiting the upper left side of the pool.


North: Hiking Past Round Lake                    top of page                      South: Meiss Cabin and Meadow

The well-designed trails between Round Lake and Meiss Meadow anticipate and accommodate the massive flow of the Spring Thaw here.
Run off cut out in trail

Above: Trail elevated and reinforced across wet meadow.

Below: Though the soils are still saturated and the soggy meadows and trail are dotted with drainage pools after the main body of the Spring Thaw has passed down the mountain, shaded spots in the forest approaching Meiss Meadow still protect remnants of the Spring snows.

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

Miles and Elevations
South Upper Truckee to Meiss Meadow



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Lodgepole-Fir Forest

In the dense forest snow hangs in longer.
Snow thickens in the shadows of deep forest
In the afternoon these are soft, so don't get your boot filled with snow!

Views of the Tahoe Rim climbing up to Meiss Meadow
Tahoe Rim above North End of Meiss Meadow

The Southwestern Tahoe Rim viewed from the East, approaching Meiss Meadow from Round Lake. Spring snowcap melting away.

That's the volcanic face above the North end of Meiss Meadow, maybe a half-mile North of the trail junction near Meiss Cabin.

Tahoe Rim above Meiss Meadow.

View towards the Southwest approaching Meiss Meadow from above Round Lake.

Let's take a look at this face walking South on the TYT-PCT route into the North end of Meiss Meadow.

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

Miles and Elevations
South Upper Truckee to Meiss Meadow



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Approaching the Trail Junction
with the
Pacific Crest and Tahoe to Yosemite Trails

  This Tree Marks the Round Lake Trail Junction.
  Nice California White Pine at Round Lake and Pacific Crest Trail junction
I always rest against it for a minute while I watch Meiss Meadow for a while.

Almost to the verdant green of Meiss Meadow in the Spring. Green of the Meadow can be seen through the trees.
The Meiss Meadow through the trees

Note the trail on upper-right of frame, visible through the trees. This is the last bit of the trail down to the Junction at Meiss Meadow.

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

Miles and Elevations
South Upper Truckee to Meiss Meadow



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North: Hiking Past Round Lake                                                                 South: Meiss Cabin and Meadow

Round Lake
South to
Meiss Meadow

The Trail

The two miles of trail up from Round Lake to Meiss Meadow starts with an intermediate difficulty climb, levels out briefly, then crosses two low hills before dropping down to the Meadow.

Note on the Mileage

I measure the full distance from the South Upper Truckee Road Trailhead and the trail junction in Meiss Meadow at 5.51 miles. But I may be up to a quarter of a mile short. The trail modifications between the South Upper Truckee Trailhead to below the Dardanelles trail junction are significant, and have added at least a quarter of a mile to the original trail's length. (2009 modifications to repair and accommodate damage from bikes, which are allowed in Meiss Country up to the PCT TYT junction at Meiss Cabin.)

Check out General Approach to Miles and Elevations.

Spring Conditions

During the Spring Thaw Meiss Meadow collects and transfers a vast amount of water from the ring of mountains surrounding it down to Lake Tahoe.
Creeks, rivulets, and the trail itself coming out of the melting snow line all be running full of icy water during the early Spring runoff.

It is so wet during the height of the Spring Thaw that the ground is completely saturated, and the soil itself acts as a means of passing water down mountain.

Depending on when the thaw occurs the trails can harden up anytime from early June to the end of July, depending on elevation, aspect in relation to the sun, how much snow fell during Winter, as well as each season's profile of Spring temperatures and storms.

From the first of the Spring thaw until late July there are lots of mosquitoes between the South Upper Truckee Trail head all the way down to Mount Whitney.

By the time we hit Tuolumne Meadows the mountains will have dried considerably and the mosquitoes will significantly diminish. But the mosquitoes are still thick when we hike South from Lake Tahoe in Spring

For more about mosquitoes in the High Sierras see "High Sierra Mosquito Cycle," and Camp and Trail Skills.

Let's keep hiking South and take a look at Meiss Meadow's four-season beauty.


Hiking Information

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
Meiss Cabin and Meadow

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North: Hiking Past Round Lake                                                                 South: Meiss Cabin and Meadow


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Experiences, comments, questions, or pictures about this Section: Let it Rip HERE:
South Upper Truckee to the Carson Gap
Round Lake to Meiss Meadow

North: Hiking Past Round Lake                                                                 South: Meiss Cabin and Meadow

Alex Wierbinski

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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