Cool down at Nevada’s lesser-known lakes.
Nevada’s major lakes are household names. But while Lake Tahoe, Lake Mead, and Pyramid Lake are popular, they only skim the surface of water recreation in the Silver State. The following backcountry destinations might mean arrival by a rough road or hike, but time it right and you could have a pristine aquatic playground practically to yourself.
The towering peaks separating Nevada from its western neighbor are home to one of the world’s most famous lakes: Lake Tahoe. However, during peak season, Tahoe can prove a challenge for those seeking secluded beach space. Luckily, there are plenty of nearby options.
This state park is located a few miles from Lake Tahoe’s eastern edge. Hiking and non-motorized boating are popular here, and guests will find modern amenities including a brand-new visitor center (which includes a warming room) and amphitheater. Spooner is the jumping-off-point to more than 60 miles of multi-use trails, one of which takes us to the next lake on our list.
The 5-mile trail to Marlette via the North Canyon Road is moderately challenging but offers stunning views in a forested setting that is particularly magnificent in the fall. While there is no camping at the lake, it’s a beloved spot for day trippers looking to beat the crowds and a great fishing spot for rainbow and Lahontan cutthroat trout.
Hobart Creek Reservoir
As the crow flies, Hobart Creek Reservoir is just a few miles northeast of Marlette Lake, but accessing it—via foot or vehicle—is challenging. Most people start in Carson City and take dirt roads then hike or bike the rest of the way. This picturesque lake offers primitive camping spots and is a popular destination for fall photographers. Due to its high elevation, parts of Hobart may be covered with ice into early May.
The beautiful Rubies of northeastern Nevada are home to more than two dozen alpine lakes. While some have road access, most will take an afternoon hike or an extended venture on the 40-mile Ruby Crest Trail.
Dollar Lakes and Lamoille Lake
This 4-mile loop from the terminus of Lamoille Canyon Road is the best way for day-trippers to see what the Ruby Mountains offer. The moderate climb treats hikers to a string of gorgeous lakes straight out of the Alps with plenty of time to head back to Elko for a hearty Basque dinner.
For a shorter Ruby Crest Trail experience, consider the 11-mile loop to Castle Lake. This trek takes you deep into the Ruby Mountain Wilderness, past the shores of a dozen alpine lakes, and beneath the nearly-11,000-foot Castle Peak. Be aware that this is an arduous climb and should only be attempted by well-prepared backpackers.
Arguably the most picturesque lake in the Ruby Mountains, this 9-mile hike from the Lamoille Canyon Road trailhead is worth the difficult climb. Liberty Lake is a favorite for hikers seeking an overnight campout in a serene setting.
While not technically in the Ruby Mountains, nearby Angel Lake is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts. This lake is easily reached by car via a gorgeous 12-mile drive off Interstate 80 near Wells. You’ll find plenty to do in this aspen-filled paradise including hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, stargazing, and camping.
PINE FOREST RANGE
Just two hours outside Winnemucca, this ruggedly remote range beckons outdoor adventure of all kinds. Expect top-notch fly fishing, no-crowd hiking, plentiful wildlife, and some of the best stargazing around.
Knott Creek Reservoir
This lake is managed and stocked by the Nevada Department of Wildlife, so expect great fishing. Knott Creek covers more than 200 surface acres with a maximum depth of 24 feet, which makes for ideal float tube fishing or fly fishing from the shoreline.
Constructed in the early 1960s as an irrigation reservoir, this 100-acre lake is the perfect spot to get away from modern society. Its sister, Little Onion Reservoir, is located a short distance to the southwest.