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Independence Lake

Lake, River, or Waterfall
Rich Reid TPL

Beloved by locals for its granite clad mountain peaks, pine forests, azure lake waters, wildlife and birds, you'll see why they call it "A Jewel in the Sierra." Independence Lake is tucked away among towering peaks in the upper reaches of the Little Truckee River watershed, 12 miles north of the town of Truckee in the Northern Sierra. Rare and pristine, it resembles Donner Lake as it must have been a century ago. Locals say you have to earn the right to visit this secret lake; getting lost along the way is a rite of passage to an alpine sanctuary, perfect for hiking or just soaking in the beautiful scenery.

While Independence Lake’s beauty and rustic nature are astonishing, the biological diversity that it supports is even more amazing. Independence Lake is home to one of two remaining wild, self-sustaining populations of Lahontan cutthroat trout in the world—a fish that has been lost from 99% of its historic range. In addition to the Lahontan cutthroat trout, Independence Lake also hosts populations of six other native Lahontan fishes that have lived here since glaciers disappeared some 10,000 years ago. Because of its pristine nature and intact ecosystem, Independence Lake has become a unique refuge for rare fish.

The surrounding pine forest is home to the black bear, mountain lion and the Truckee-Loyalton deer herd. Bald eagles and osprey can be spotted from the shorelines, hunting fish. The region is also home to rare species like the willow flycatcher, mountain yellow-legged frog, and Sierra Nevada mountain beaver.

Independence Lake also plays a role in supporting human communities. As part of the Truckee River watershed, Independence Lake provides clean drinking water to western Nevada.

Independence Lake at Risk
NV Energy, the electric utility serving northern Nevada and northeastern California for more than 150 years, is selling the property. The iconic alpine setting and proximity to metropolitan areas in both
California and Nevada makes it attractive for real estate development. Without proper management, the forest is at risk of catastrophic wildfire which would destroy habitat and cause serious erosion into the lake. In addition, aquatic invasive species could cripple the lake’s ecosystem, affecting
the lake’s unique assemblage of native fish, its recreational opportunities, and water quality.

You Can Help Protect It
The Northern Sierra Partnership plans to purchase Independence Lake to protect it from development and to implement management strategies to decrease the risk of fire, protect crucial habitat for native fish and wildlife, and allow visitors to enjoy the lake in ways compatible with the conservation of its precious resources.

With the help of residents and visitors, we hope to ensure that Independence Lake remains
healthy and beautiful for future generations. For more information about how to help, email or call (415) 800-5282. To donate now, click here.

The Northern Sierra Partnership is a pioneering alliance dedicated to cooperative action that will conserve the lands and waters of the northern Sierra Nevada, and enhance its communities and local economies, for future generations.

Recreational Opportunities

With 5.8 miles of shoreline, Independence Lake is perfect for hiking, swimming, and for watching birds and wildlife...not to mention the hike in to find this hidden jewel.

Nearby Places