From the parking lot atop Sonora Pass (Highway 108), hikers have many trail options to explore, but to see the biggest views and most awe-inspiring scenery, it’s worth trekking five miles south on the PCT from the parking area. The trail starts with a climb and eventually evens out as it treks across the flank of Leavitt Peak, exposing hikers to a stunning ridgeline and deep basins containing alpine lakes. How far you want to go is your choice, because the PCT continues south for another 1,000 miles, but most day hikers can get their fill by traveling five miles south of Sonora Pass and turning back, and with the standout views along the way, you won’t be disappointed by checking them out again as you head back.
Just 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe, along Highway 88, and 55 trail miles north of Sonora Pass on the PCT, Carson Pass is a beautiful destination for day hiking. It’s not just the stunning woodland and alpine lakes found throughout the area, but the varied amount of adventure options that make it great for anyone looking to hike along the PCT. Heading either north or south from the trailhead at Carson Pass, you can expect to find some scenery worth hiking towards, and whether you go south in searching for Lake Winnemucca or the more distant Round Top and 4th of July Lakes, or you head north towards the Echo Summit 12 miles away, you’ll see for yourself the rewards you can stumble across when exploring the mountains of California.