Outdoors with Don Q: Wildflowers and trout fishing at Frog Lake
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article about the wildflowers blooming along the paved highway in the Davis Lake area of Plumas County, California.
This week's article is about a high-altitude hike that Elaine and I took to little Frog Lake in the Mokelumne Wilderness Area of California, as our way to celebrate Father's Day on June 16.
Our purpose for that Sunday hike was three-fold: To walk on snow fields (which we did), to photograph wildflowers (which we did) and to fish for rainbow trout (which we did).
You, too, might want to take that same hike in the very near future and here's how to do so:
What to take:
In a small daypack, take snacks or a light picnic lunch complete with your favorite soft drinks or water, sunglasses, sun screen, hat, mosquito repellent (lots of it!), camera and even a light sweater (just in case).
If you're a fisherman:
Take some small lures (I was spincasting with small red/white striped lures and we also tried Power Nuggets and nightcrawlers).
How to get to Frog Lake from the Winnemucca Lake Trail:
Drive south from Carson City for 43 miles on a combination of U.S. 395, Nevada S.R. 88 and California S.R. 88 to the top of Kit Carson Pass.
At the Pass, you will have to pay a modest fee to park in the U.S. Forest Service parking area.
From there, you will be hiking on a well-defined trail that leads you to Winnemucca Lake, which is about a two-mile hike from that parking area.
Winnemucca Lake is a large, high-altitude, super-deep, ice-cold, trout-filled lake that lies at the base of Round Top Mountain (elevation 10,364 feet), the highest point in the Mokelumne Wilderness Area.
You’ll be walking at high altitude (8,500-9,000 feet), so if you are not accustomed to that type of elevation, remember to take it slow and easy with lots of rest stops, so you can catch your breath.
Here’s a special “Don Q” hint:
Taking numerous photos of the surrounding, spectacular mountain scenery and the wildflowers along the trail is a great excuse for making multiple stops. I do it often and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
After hiking for about a mile, you will see aptly-named Elephant Back Mountain directly in front of you and little Frog Lake on your left.
Turn off the main hiking trail, travel a very short distance to the lake and then find a good place to enjoy some fishing and relaxing.
I would suggest anywhere along the lake side that has most of the trees.
And as an unexpected bonus:
If you hike to the top of the ridge at the far end of Frog Lake, you will be looking down on Red Lake, far below. A great photo op!
Last week, the wildflowers were not quite at their peak, but I have an educated guess that they should be looking great by the time you read this.
Last week, the best display of wildflowers was along the west shoreline of Frog Lake. The flowers are all kinds of bright colors: Green, white, red, yellow, blue, violet, etc. You’ll see lots of Mule's Ears, Indian Paint Brush, Lupine, Buttercup, etc.
Finally, an important bit of advice:
If possible, try to go on a weekday, not on a weekend.
On weekends, the Winnemucca Lake Trail is jammed-packed with all kinds of wildflower lovers from far and wide. You won’t be lonely!
And, as a special two-part reminder:
01. Please do not trample on other flowers while trying to get a photo of a unique flower or group of flowers.
02. Please leave your dog home.
Be considerate of the others who have hiked there to admire that high-altitude display by Mother Nature.
Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t tell you the best time to photograph the wildflowers along the trail.
If he grins and says, “Your best time for those photos is early in the morning or late in the afternoon,” he has been there as a photographer.
— Don Quilici is the Outdoor editor for Carson Now. He can be reached at email@example.com