Winchell Lake is another high alpine lake in the Humboldt-Toiyabe Wilderness near the Angel Lake Rec area, just south of Wells, NV. It’s neighboring lakes, Angel Lake & Smith Lake, gets most of the attention, but Winchell is just as pretty! Because this lake is only lightly trafficked, the trail is semi-overgrown and wearing pants will protect your legs. The trail is very easy to follow, it’s just filled with overgrown sagebrush.
Google maps will sometimes want to take you South on HWY 93, and then cut over. There is actually no road to get through! So follow this instead (mapped linked below). In Wells, NV take exit 351. At the bottom of the exit turn left, and then after you go under I-80, take an immediate right. Now all you have to do is follow this road to just past the “Adopt a Highway” blue sign, and the TH is on your left. However, drive around the bend, and park on the pull-out on the right side of the road.
Here is a driving map.
Distance: 7 miles RT
Elevation gain: 1,200 ft
Time: 3-5 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? Yes, ages 10+
Parking is just around the bend in the road off to the right.
Cross the road and start at the big sign.
The trail all up and down! We started hiking around 830am and wow was it hot!
Around 1/2 mile reach the East Humboldt Wilderness sign.
Dropping back down, cross the first year-round spring. Charlie was happy to cool off for a minute.
At 1.0 mile reach the cattle gate.
Ugh another steep, rocky section!
Annnd right back down again, and again.
Another sign of frequent avalanches. Notice how all the Aspen trees swoop down and then back up? You definitely don’t want to hike this in Winter.
Charlie is my little mountain goat – he loves scrambling to the top of rocks. Check out that view of Chimney Rock behind him!
Another note – wear pants. There was SO MUCH low brush that wearing shorts will tear up your legs.
Cross a dry meadow. I imagine in early Summer this is a muddy mess from snow.
More bushwhacking through scrub taller than me this time.
Almost there. Can’t get over these rocky ridges!
Made it! Charlie immediately dove into Winchell Lake! It was pretty clear water, but lots of algae around the edges. Seems like the cows like to hang out here to drink as well.
Overall I think I prefer Smith Lake over Winchell Lake just because it’s much shorter, and the basin is way more pretty in my opinion. However, when I hiked Winchell Lake on a Sunday morning I didn’t see a single person! I think if you only have time for one do Smith, but if you have all day, then do Winchell.
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