TRT Water

A list of reliable water sources for Tahoe Rim Trail hikers

I ran into a deluge of misinformation regarding water sources along the TRT and as a result I carried up to 2 gallons of water on some sections. In retrospect, reliable water sources on the TRT average 6.3 miles apart and 3 liters is all you’ll need in most situations. Here is a complete and concise listing of the water sources I found on my thru-hike in September-October 2012, in the order I encountered them, hiking counterclockwise from the Mt Rose Summit Trailhead. It should be noted that 2012 was an extremely dry year and the snowpack was exceedingly low, so these sources are the bare minimum one should expect to encounter. The mileage listed is the distance between the two sources and quality and quantity are ranked on a 0-5 scale relative to other TRT sources.

Mt Rose Summit TH: no water available

2.5 miles

Galena Falls
Quality: 3
Quantity: 3
Notes: Impossible to miss.

7 miles

Gray Lake
Quality: 5
Quantity: 5
Notes: For the 600′ of elevation gain this is an amazing side trip even if you don’t need water.

15.4 miles, 2nd longest waterless stretch

Watson Lake
Quality: 1
Quantity: 5
Notes: Water that tastes just like the debris that’s decomposing in it.

12 miles

Tahoe City resupply or Truckee River

7 miles

Ward Creek
Quality: 4
Quantity: 4
Notes:

6 miles

Blackwood Creek Springs
Quality: 5
Quantity: 4
Notes: 2 springs that feed Blackwood Creek cross the PCT near Barker Peak.

3 miles

Barker Creek
Quality: ?
Quantity: 3
Notes: On my National Geographic map this looks to be an outlet of Bear Lake. I crossed over the flow and marked it but did not fill here.

4 miles

Richardson Lake
Quality: 4
Quantity: 5
Notes: Also a gest place to camp or just take a rest.

9 miles

Desolation Wilderness Lakes
Quality: 3
Quantity: 5
Notes: After crossing into Desolation southbound it’s almost 9 miles to your first water, Middle Velma, but after that sources are never more than 4 miles apart.

3.5 miles

Lower Echo Lake
Quality: 3
Quantity: 5
Notes: Easiest access is on the north end or at the lake’s outlet.

1-4 miles

American River
Quality: ?
Quantity: 5
Notes: Parallels US 50. Did not fill here.

2 miles

Benwood Meadow Springs
Quality: 2
Quantity: 2
Notes: Not great but definitely possible to fill here. 3 crossings over a couple of miles.

5 miles

Little Round Top Springs
Quality: 5
Quantity: 4
Notes: 2 springs, 100′ apart.

1 mile

Showers Lake
Quality: 3
Quantity: 5
Notes: Drinkable, but I’d go for the springs a mile to the west.

1 mile

Upper Truckee River
Quality: ?
Quantity: ?
Notes: Crosses the PCT about a mile south of Showers Lake.

2 miles

Round Lake Spring
Quality: 3
Quantity: 2
Notes: Crosses TRT about a mile south of Round Lake.

1 mile

Round Lake
Quality: 0
Quantity: 5
Notes: Opaque green.

2 miles

Big Meadow Creek
Quality: 1
Quantity: 1
Notes: Unsure of this source.

1 mile

Grass Lake Creek
Quality: 3
Quantity: 4
Notes: Two encounters, about a mile apart.

9 miles

Freel Peak Spring
Quality: 4
Quantity: 4
Notes: Crosses TRT south of Freel Peak saddle.

3 miles

Star Lake
Quality: 1
Quantity: 5
Notes: The lake was antifreeze green by this time of year.

4 miles

Monument Peak Spring
Quality: 4
Quantity: 3
Notes: Located near intersection with chairlift.

5 miles

Edgewood Creek
Quality: 2 
Quantity: 2
Notes: Edgewood Creek parallels a sewer line and drains the highway. I prefer the slightly smaller creek  1/4 mile further south on the TRT.

15.5 miles, longest waterless stretch

Spooner Lake
Quality: ? 
Quantity: ?
Notes: I’ve been told there is tap water at the cabin at Spooner lake. I bummed enough at the trailhead to avoid the 1.2 mile roundtrip hike.

7.4 miles

Marlette Peak Campground Well
Quality: 5
Quantity: 5
Notes: At the bottom of the campground, less than 1/4 mile off TRT.

13 miles, 3rd longest waterless stretch

Incline Creek Spring
Quality: 4
Quantity: 1
Notes: Crosses TRT 2 miles south of Tahoe Meadows, just enough flow to fill here.

2 miles

Ophir Creek
Quality: 2
Quantity: 5
Notes: There’s plenty of flowing water in the Tahoe meadows drainage and it’s deeper and easier to fill here than the nearby spring although quality may not be as good.

———-Rim to Reno Water Sources ———-

Mt Rose Summit TH: no water available

2.5 miles

Galena Falls
Quality: 3
Quantity: 3
Notes: Impossible to miss.

3.5 miles

Bronco Creek Spring
Quality: 5
Quantity: 4
Notes: Crosses the Rim to Reno trail 2 miles from its junction with the Mt Rose summit trail on the saddle.

9 miles

Taylor Creek
Quality: 1
Quantity: 5
Notes: You’ll hear Taylor creek a soon as you get close, and the Rim to Reno follows it for several miles. It’s source is springs, but there were dead birds along the bank when I was there. Very silty because of the high velocity of this steep flow.

One thought on “TRT Water

  1. Pingback: Tahoe Rim Trail Endnotes | Tasmanian Sky

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