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Winter in the Forest
The Eldorado National Forest, a playground for all seasons, offers plenty of varied terrain perfect for winter recreation. With two major highways crossing the Forest, there is easy access for popular winter activities – skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snow camping ,dog sledding or just playing in the snow. At the lower elevations, trails may still be open for hiking, while snow dominates the peaks.
For cross-country skiers and snowshoers, marked trails are found along Highway 50 at Echo Lakes Basin, Echo Summit, Loon Lake, and Strawberry Canyon. The Amador District on Highway 88 has both trails and back country options. For more experienced skiers and snowshoers, the Echo to Kirkwood Cross-country trail offers more of a challenge.
Several commercial operators offer recreational opportunities and rentals. Sierra at Tahoe, Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe, and Kirkwood Mountain Resort all provide a variety of services from down-hill skiing to sledding and tubing.
Whatever you choose to do, even just planning a drive, be sure to prepare for winter conditions – check the weather forecast, road conditions, and let someone know where you will be traveling.
BEING PREPARED FOR WINTER ACTIVITIES IS BEING RESPONSIBLE!
- CLOTHES, sunglasses, sunscreen, food, water, first aid kit, map, compass, headlamp, fire starter material, matches, emergency survival equipment, tire chains, and an ice scrapershould be part of your standard equipment.
- WATER can be difficult to find in the winter. All that may be available is what you carry or melt from snow. Melt snow over a camp stove. Eating snow reduces your core temperature and can be dangerous .
- CLOTHES should be chosen for warmth, weight and wind protection. Dress in layers that are warm and lightweight. Daytime and night time temperatures can vary as much as 80 degrees. You need to be prepared.
- FOOD supplies should include items that are light weight but loaded with calories such as nuts, candy and dried fruit.
FOR CENTRAL SIERRA AVALANCHE HAZARD RATINGS., CALL (530) 587-2158
The safest routes are on ridge tops and slightly on the windward side, away from cornices. If travel on the ridges is impossible, the next safest route is out in the valley, away from the bottom of slopes.
Carson Pass Winter Fun
Sno-Parks in the Carson Pass area are located at the Meiss Trailhead, the Carson Pass Information Station, Iron Mountain and Hope Valley. They are open November 1-May 30. A Sno-Park permit is required and can be
- The Amador Ranger Station 26820 Silver Drive in Pioneer (209) 295-4251
- The Placerville Ranger Station 4260 Eight Mile Road in Camino. (530) 644-2324
- The Forest Superintendent’s Office 100 Forni Road in Placerville.(530) 622-5061
- Other locations such as REI and local retailers.
The cost is $25.00 per season or $5.00 a day
Located at the crest of Carson Pass on Highway 88 the Carson Pass Information Station is a great place to start your adventure. The Station is closed in the winter, but several trails start from the Sno-Park lot next to the station where restrooms are also available.Follow the trail leaving the parking lot just to the side of the Information Station traversing through a beautiful primitive forest to Frog Lake at one mile. Continuing on the trail will bring you to Winammuca Lake, Round Top Mountain, and Elephant’s Back. You will be in a wilderness area so there are no blue diamonds on the trees to mark the trail so you must be responsible for your navigation.
in the Carson Pass area is available at Silver Lake, Caples Lake, Red Lake, and Woods Lake. A variety of trout including Mackinaw, Brown, Brook, and Rainbow trout are available. Many of these hungary fish can weigh from five pounds to an excess of twenty pounds for the Mackinaw. Ice conditions can change rapidly so caution is advised.
Snow Camping can be a challenging and very rewarding experience. If you are camping in the Carson Pass Management Area you must have a minimum of twelve inches of snow on the ground. Camping within the management area is only allowed at designated sites at Winammuca Lake, Frog Lake, Round Top and 4th of July lake. Open fires are not allowed above 8,000 feet so plan to use your camp stove. A wilderness permit and camp fire permit are required and can be obtained from the Amador Ranger Station on Silver Drive in Pioneer.
Snowmobiling is not allowed in the Carson Pass Management Area or Meiss Meadow area, but close by good areas for snowmobiling are Iron Mountain, at the junction of Mormon-Emigrant Trail Road and Highway 88, and Hope Valley just east of the pass. Each has a Sno-Park staging area, miles of groomed and ungroomed trails, and acres of open country. Silver Bear Snowmobiling Trails begin at the Iron Mountain Sno-Park about 25 miles east of Jackson. Hope Valley Snowmobiling Trails launch from the Hope Valley Sno-Park on the east side of the pass.