Destination: Red Lake Peak
Mileage: 3.82 round trip
Trailhead: Meiss Meadow Sno-Park off Hwy 88
Elevation: 8,520 up to 10,072 feet
It’s the first day of spring! I knew this day was approaching and my chances of getting Aspen on a snow adventure were quickly melting away. When I proposed a snowshoe trip near Carson Pass Yoshi and Toad picked this gem. We meet at Meiss Meadow Sno-Park after picking up our Sno-Park day pass the Buckhorn Plaza Hardware on Highway 88 – they are also available online for a small extra charge. Please note you need to have your permit when arriving at the Sno-Park, there is nowhere to purchase them at the site.
After we rendezvoused and gathered our gear we headed west from the parking lot along the Pacific Crest Trail. There are various ways to get to Red Lake Peak, but I would suggest at least starting on the PCT for the first little bit before heading up. One blog we read beforehand suggested heading straight north from the parking lot, which could put you in a precarious position when attempting to gain the ridge higher up.
One thing I loved about this adventure was that the views were nonstop. At first we were looking south to Round Top and Elephants Back. Then Caples Lake came into view. As we gained elevation the views to the south opened up and were craggy ridge-line beyond craggy ridge-line – my favorite! To the north we enjoyed Desolation Wilderness’ Crystal Range and Lake Tahoe glistening in the distance. We hadn’t even reached our goal yet!
Once we crested the subpeak to the southwest snowshoes were necessary for the stretch to the base of the final climb – then we were back on exposed rock. We stashed our snowshoes in a rock pile and finished the climb to the top. Well…not the true top, that would require a different approach or leaving the three dogs at home. We were all happy of our view and had earned our celebratory beers after they cooled off in the snow. On the way down we somewhat retraced our steps with a detour for a glissade down a nice slope – try at your own risk!
Half of us started this adventure on snowshoes and the other half opted to hike because the snow was so hard-packed. I mainly had them on out of stubbornness – I’m snowshoeing by golly! However, everyone was glad they had their snowshoes at some point during the trip. Although I will say, with about a mile left I grew tired of switching between wearing them and not and opted to just hike to my dry socks and shoes waiting in the car. Overall, I would recommend this hike when there is more snow, but I still had a great time and so did Aspen so we’ll call this adventure a success!
Don’t forget the sunscreen!