Trout Creek (Lake Tahoe)

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Trout Creek
Native nameMathocahuw O'tha  (Washo) [1] [2]
Country United States
State California
Region El Dorado County
Physical characteristics
SourceWest side of Armstrong Pass in the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada
  coordinates 38°50′01″N119°54′49″W / 38.83361°N 119.91361°W / 38.83361; -119.91361 [1]
  elevation8,630 ft (2,630 m)
Mouth Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe, California
38°56′28″N119°59′48″W / 38.94111°N 119.99667°W / 38.94111; -119.99667 Coordinates: 38°56′28″N119°59′48″W / 38.94111°N 119.99667°W / 38.94111; -119.99667 [1]
6,224 ft (1,897 m) [1]
Basin features
  leftSaxon Creek
  rightCold Creek, [3] Heavenly Valley Creek [4]

Trout Creek is a northward-flowing stream originating on the west side of Armstrong Pass on the Carson Range in El Dorado County, California, United States.



Trout Creek was an important fall camp for the Washo people who caught Mountain whitefish (Prosopium williamsoni, formerly Coregonus williamsoni (Girard, 1856)) there. The Washo name Mathocahuw O'tha means "river of the whitefish". George and Adeline Fountain built a log cabin near the headwaters in 1860 and the area is referred to as "Fountain Place". [2]


Trout Creek originates south of Freel Peak in the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada. It is joined by Saxon Creek in Lake Valley, [2] then meets Cold Creek at Lake Christopher which was created by damming the creek, then after being joined by Heavenly Valley Creek, it enters Truckee Marsh and south Lake Tahoe. [1] The only lake in the Trout Creek watershed is Star Lake. [5] Trout Creek has a drainage area of 106 square kilometers, and the main channel length is approximately 19.5 km long. The Cold Creek sub-basin drains a watershed area of 12.8 square miles (33 km2) and originates at 10,884 feet (3,317 m) at Freel Peak. [6]


The Trout Creek Stream Restoration and Wildlife Enhancement Project in South Lake Tahoe was completed in 2001. Over 3000 m of channel were reconstructed with enhanced sinuosity, a raised channel elevation, reduced slope, and an overall increase in channel length. The purpose was to improve stream habitat, raise the water table and to allow for increased hydrologic connectivity between the stream channel and the floodplain. [7] Trout Creek is being studied by the U. S. Forest Service for the effectiveness of the stream restoration effectiveness, particularly total and fine sediment load reductions with a final report due in 2012. [8]

North American beaver (Castor canadensis) inhabit multiple reaches of Trout Creek and Cold Creek. [9] [10] Beaver were re-introduced to the Tahoe Basin by the CDFG and the U. S. Forest Service between 1934 and 1949 in order to prevent stream degradation and to promote wetland restoration. The presence of beaver dams has also been shown to either increase the number of fish, their size, or both, in a study of brook, rainbow and brown trout in Sagehen Creek, which flows into the Little Truckee River at an altitude of 5,800 feet (1,800 m) and is a stream typical of the eastern slope of the northern Sierra Nevada. [11] Not only have aspen and cottonwood survived ongoing beaver colonization but a recent study of ten Tahoe streams, including Trout Creek and Cold Creek, utilizing aerial multispectral videography has shown that deciduous, thick herbaceous, and thin herbaceous vegetation are more highly concentrated near beaver dams, whereas coniferous trees are decreased. [10] Benefits of beaver dams include removal of sediment and excessive pollutants travelling downstream, which improves lake clarity, which was shown to worsen recently when beaver dams were removed in nearby Taylor Creek and Ward Creek. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Martis Creek

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Meeks Creek

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Griff Creek

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Trout Creek (Truckee River tributary)

Trout Creek is a small tributary of the Truckee River draining about 5.1 square miles (13 km2) along the eastern crest of the Sierra Nevada. It originates east of Donner Ridge and north of Donner Lake in the Tahoe–Donner Golf Course and flows through the town of Truckee, California, to its confluence with the Truckee River in Nevada County, California, just west of Highway 267.

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Taylor Creek (Lake Tahoe)

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Blackwood Creek (California)

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Independence Lake (California)

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Environmental impacts of beavers

The beaver is a keystone species, increasing biodiversity in its territory through creation of ponds and wetlands. As wetlands are formed and riparian habitats enlarged, aquatic plants colonize newly available watery habitat. Insect, invertebrate, fish, mammal, and bird diversities are also expanded. Effects of beaver recolonization on native and non-native species in streams where they have been historically absent, particularly dryland streams, is not well-researched.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Trout Creek
  2. 1 2 3 Barbara Lekisch (1988). Tahoe Place Names: the Origin and History of Names in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Lafayette, California: Great West Books. p. 142. ISBN   9780944220016 . Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  3. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Cold Creek
  4. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Heavenly Valley Creek
  5. WRIR (Report). Retrieved 2012-12-28.
  6. "Cold Creek Watershed Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration Plan". United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-08-03. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  7. Christina Tague, Scott Valentine, Matthew Kotchen (2008). "Effect of geomorphic channel restoration on streamflow and groundwater in a snowmelt-dominated watershed" (PDF). Water Resources Research. 44 (10): 1–10. Bibcode:2008WRR....4410415T. doi: 10.1029/2007wr006418 . Retrieved 2010-11-13.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  8. Nicole Beck. "Quantification and Characterization of Trout Creek Restoration Effectiveness". U. S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  9. Dan Keenan (December 2008). South Lake Tahoe Monitoring Project (PDF) (Report). Sierra Nevada Alliance. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  10. 1 2 Michael Benson Ayers (October 1997). Aerial Multispectral Videography for Vegetation Mapping and Assessment of Beaver Distribution within Selected Riparian Areas of the Lake Tahoe Basin (Thesis). University of Nevada at Reno. p. 71. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  11. Gard R (1961). "Effects of beaver on trout in Sagehen Creek, California". Journal of Wildlife Management. 25 (3): 221–242. doi:10.2307/3797848. JSTOR   3797848.
  12. Sarah Muskopf (October 2007). The Effect of Beaver (Castor canadensis) Dam Removal on Total Phosphorus Concentration in Taylor Creek and Wetland, South Lake Tahoe, California (Thesis). Humboldt State University, Natural Resources. hdl:2148/264.