Friday, July 25, 2014

From Round Top Lake to Fourth of July Lake

4th of July Lake
Fourth of July Lake and Summit City Canyon

Fourth of July Lake is a small, picturesque lake within the Mokelumne Wilderness some miles southwest of the Carson Pass Information Center. This subalpine lake is accessible from trailheads at Carson Pass, Woods Lake and Upper Blue Lake. By starting out from Carson Pass, your hike will turn into a scenic four-lake trip, including shallow Frog Lake, Winnemucca Lake and Round Top Lake. The latter being backdropped by the steep walls and talus slopes of The Sisters. Your destination lake is reached by hiking about 1,000 feet downhill the south-facing slopes of The Sisters into a steep, crater-like amphitheater.

Leaving the open forest of gnarled whitebark pines at Round Top Lake behind, an almost level trail with panoramic vistas leads around the west-facing shoulder of The Sisters. Fourth of July Peak is coming into view. Continue on between the latter and The Sisters until you reach the saddle-ridge, from where you get your first glimpse of the bottom stage with forest- and shrub-rimmed Fourth of July Lake.

Fourth-of-July-Lake hikers and backpackers love to mention the 1,000-feet-drop, which both downward and upward is not as bad as it may sound. Approaching the lower ranks on a hot and sunny day, you certainly will enjoy the shade provided by small and large conifers. Your efforts will finally be rewarded when you are invited to wade or dip into the cold lake water. There is a short stretch of a beach along the western shoreline (see picture below). Fourth of July Lake's inlet is at this beach side. The lake's outlet into Summit City Creek is at the east side, near your arrival point and the Y-junction with a trailpost giving direction for the Summit City Canyon trail.

Fourth of July Lake's beach side
Your climb back up will be eased thanks to the many switchbacks and the soul-refreshing display of wildflowers you probably already admired when coming down. The more elevation you gain, the more you will feel the strengthening of the cooling Sierra wind— taking away your sweat, but not your impressions of an inspiring lake dramaturgy.

For further inspiration, I recommend Kevin's Hiking Page > Fourth of July Lake. The trail from Carson Pass to Fourth of July Lake and further south into Summit City Canyon is a section of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail (TYT), connecting Lake Tahoe with Mt. Whitney for backpackers.

Geographic keywords: 4th of July Lake, Carson Pass Management Area, Mokelumne Wilderness, Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, California.

Fourth of July Lake's outlet into Summit City Creek

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