Mokelumne Wilderness in California

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Mokelumne Wilderness

The scenic beauty of the Mokelumne Wilderness, south of Lake Tahoe, covers forestland within two states, with tall rugged peaks, deep canyons, mountain lakes and lots of outdoor recreation.

  • Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Mokelumne Wilderness
  • Located south of Lake Tahoe
  • Hike to Winnemucca Lake or Round Top Lake
  • Fish Caples Lake or the Blue Lakes for rainbow or brook trout
  • Catch sight of some bears, coyotes or red foxes
  • No reservations are needed for Mokelumne Wilderness campgrounds


Mokelumne Wilderness contains over 105,000 scenic acres and straddles the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Within this wild land are lakes, towering peaks (often with snow into June) and sparkling mountain lakes and streams. Just south of Lake Tahoe, this wilderness is a great place to come for a change of pace on your Tahoe vacation.

Location & Information

You can access Mokelumne Wilderness from the north on Highway 88, about 6.6 miles east of Carson Pass.

This wilderness area is open all year for the public, but the best time to come is in the summer, with the mild temperatures and climate making a pleasant visit.

Contact information:
Eldorado National Forest
100 Forni Road
Placerville, CA 95667
Visitor Information: 530-644-6048
Eldorado National Forest
Amador Ranger District
26820 Silver Drive
Pioneer, CA 95666


There are many recreational opportunities within Mokelumne Wilderness such as:

The only real access to this wilderness is via many hiking and horseback riding trails. The most popular trails are:

  • Carson Pass Trailhead to Winnemucca Lake – an easy 2.5-mile hike with wonderful wildflower displays.
  • Winnemucca Lake Trial to Round Top Lake – This 1-mile hike takes you into the higher elevations.
  • Woods Lake Trail to Winnemucca Lake – A moderate hike of 1.5 miles, this trail leads you through a cool forest to beautiful meadows and lakes.
  • Lost Cabin Mine Trail (at Woods Lake Trailhead) to Round Top Lake – A steep 1.9-mile trail through fir trees.
  • Caples Trailhead to Emigrant Lake – A 4.3-mile hike on the shore of Caples Lake, through forests and meadows to a sparkling mountain lake.

You’ll find abundant game fish like rainbow and brook trout in the streams and lakes of Mokelumne Wilderness. Caples Lake and Blue Lakes are popular fishing spots, with brown, rainbow, lake and brook trout to catch.

Wildlife Watching
There is a multitude of wildlife throughout the Mokelumne Wilderness Area, with a habitat that provides numerous places for animals to hide, feed, sleep and breed. You may see mountain lions, deer, black bears, porcupines, coyotes and badgers. Watch for pine martens and red foxes. Birdwatchers come here to spot mountain bluebirds, Clark’s nutcrackers, redtail hawks, as well as golden and bald eagles.

There are a number of campgrounds so you can stay right in the midst of all the natural beauty. Some of these include Caples Lake Campground, Lower Blue Lake, Middle Creek and Upper Blue Lake Campgrounds. No reservations are needed – they are all first-come, first-served.

Fun Facts

It is estimated that Native Americans were living in the Mokelumne Wilderness as long as 10,000 years ago. They hunted for bear, deer and smaller game, and gathered plants and berries. The traditional grounds of the Sierra MiWok and Washoe Indians, this land provided trails for trade among these Native Americans, for items such as rabbit skins, baskets, salts and much more.