Round Lake/Big Meadow

Round Lake is located in Meiss country, or just a few miles from South Lake Tahoe. This small ''round'' lake is the beginning of the Upper Truckee River which flows into Lake Tahoe. The outflow is known simply as the Truckee River which ultimately flows into Pyramid Lake, Nevada. Compared to the southern part of the Sierra Nevada range, the local scenery is not as majestic but is indeed pretty, easy to hike and unlike very high altitude locations, offers better campsites.

The lake contains one species of trout, the Lahontan Cutthroat. The fish are classically well-marked and the flesh is a pronounced pink.

The hike to Round Lake starts at Big Meadow, and as the name implies, it is a very big meadow! The trail runs down the middle of the meadow which is covered in wildflowers in the spring. After the meadow, continue on through traditional forest, and later as the trail gets steeper you will reach the summit and end at Round Lake.

Read more


Latitude: 38.7867397 Longitude: -120.0043488 Elevation: 7158 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Natalie Yanish

Recreational Opportunities

Camping, hiking, fishing, biking and swimming in the summer. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Biking is allowed from the Big Meadow trailhead up to Round Lake, and to the intersection of the Pacific Crest Trail at Meiss Meadows. Bicycles are not allowed on the trail.

Campfires are allowed with a valid campfire permit as long as there are no fire restrictions in place. Campfire permits may be obtained in person from any Forest Service office or fire station. Trailheads are accessible from Luther Pass (Highway 89) on the northern boundary and Carson Pass (Highway 88) on the southern side. Elevations in Meiss country range from 5,000 feet in the valley to 9,000 foot peaks.

Seasons Accessible

Summer is most popular.


Fees are not presently required for day or overnight use in Meiss country

Pet Friendly Notes

Dogs are allowed here as on most other U.S. forest trails. Pet owners please follow guidelines:

Keep pet on 6ft. leash at all times. Control excessive barking. Check paws often; rocky terrain can cause cuts, consider protective dog pads. Pick up or bury canine waste. Keep your dog close by when encountering other people. Remember to bring enough water for you and your pet.


Excellent article. Thank you. Lake Mary Special #16 is efficient especially at sundown. Treat the geography of the river outflow with respect -- it can become steep and treacherous for fishermen. The first outflow pool has small fish hiding from predators in the lake -- I do not fish there. nor do I keep cutthroat in excess of 16" in length. The big brooders in Round Lake keeps the fishery healthy and productive. Many years ago I packed in 50 lbs of processed Mono Lake brine shrimp, rowed out to the center of the lake and started casting out small handfuls of feed. There are some 24" fish in that lake! Perhaps even larger than that. For a cooking tip, fry the cleaned fish whole in butter over glowing coals. Sprinkle with fresh dill and then for the last one or two minutes, add a cup of cooking sherry and cover. You'll never want to go home again. Play with a gold pan and you'll get color and even some points. I love Round Lake!

David E., 6/25/2013

Leave a Comment