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Motherlode Lakes (Carlyle Lodge)

Staying at Carlyle Lodge? Check out the trail to Motherlode Lakes. It’s a scenic hike from the lodge, edging along alpine slopes to arrive at a series of lakes and pools.

Trailhead: Carlyle Lodge
Distance, round trip: 8.6km
Elevation: +609m
Season: mid-July to late September
Difficulty: Easy


Starting from Carlyle Lodge, hike up the trail towards Carpenter Pass until you reach a flagged junction at 0.2km. Turn left to ascend towards the yoga platform in a meadow below Misty Peak.

Follow the trail to the left of the yoga platform, cross a short meadow, and begin to ascend.

Looking back down at Carlyle Lodge with Mount Carlyle beyond

Below Misty Peak

The trail will climb one of the ridges below Misty Peak with a few short steep sections. At 0.7km, reach another flagged junction. Right will take a higher trail with bigger views whereas left will stick to a lower trail mainly in the woods. It’s your choice!

If you stay right, climb higher and then cross a series of avalanche paths where the trail has been cut into the side of the slope as it contours below Misty Peak. Mind your footing.

Looking out across the valley from the high trail
Trail as it side-hills beneath Misty Peak

Cody Pass

After 1.4km, the high trail will descend towards Cody Pass in a series of steep switchbacks. By 1.7km, you’ll connect with another junction where the high trail and the low trail merge again. Remember this for the way back incase you want to shortcut.

Looking across Cody Pass to the basin above where the Motherlode Lakes are

Cody Pass is full of trickling streams and reflective ponds. It’s a good spot for a break as you’re about half-way to the lakes now.

Larches on Cody Pass

The trail ascends on a very steep pitch as it leaves Cody Pass. Then it plateaus beneath a series of angular larches on the ridge nicknamed ‘Troll Trees’. Continue hiking as the trail dips down at 3.2km with a lower Motherlode Lake in view.

Hiking past the lower lake

The trail will then fade away into a marked cairn route, doing a long switchback up a grassy ramp as it ascends to the upper Motherlode Lake.

Motherlode Lakes

Views on the meadows near upper Motherlode Lake

Reach the upper lake after 4.3km. Carlyle Lodge has stashed a backcountry campsite here as it’s part of their guided Sourdough Traverse, a route stretching along the ridges from Idaho Peak to Carpenter Pass.

Motherlode Lake (photo credit Nicky Blackshaw)
Reflections at the Upper Motherlode Lake
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Brian Cross
Brian Cross
4 years ago

Spectacular photos. great descriptive notes. Once in Motherload basin there are numerous other lakes and cairns to explore. There isn’t a picture of it , but the main lake is quite large.

Trip Date
Trail Conditions
Access Road Conditions
Access Road Vehicle
4WD Low Clearance
Brian Cross
Brian Cross
4 years ago

Anyone want to hike into Carlyle Sunday. Day trip.

1 year ago

Is parking permitted up at the lodge when you’re not actually staying there? Thanks!