Ward Creek (Lake Tahoe)

Last updated
Ward Creek
Wards Creek [1] [2]
Ward Creek mouth Lake Tahoe.jpg
The mouth of Ward Creek on Lake Tahoe
Relief map of California.png
Red pog.svg
Location of the mouth of Ward Creek in California
Native namedagásliʔ [3]
Country United States
State California
Region Placer County
Cities Pine Land, Timberland
Physical characteristics
SourceBetween Ward Peak and Twin Peaks [4] in the Granite Chief Wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  coordinates 39°07′10″N120°14′20″W / 39.11944°N 120.23889°W / 39.11944; -120.23889 [2]
  elevation7,940 ft (2,420 m) [5]
Mouth Lake Tahoe
Tahoe Pines
39°07′45″N120°09′18″W / 39.12917°N 120.15500°W / 39.12917; -120.15500 Coordinates: 39°07′45″N120°09′18″W / 39.12917°N 120.15500°W / 39.12917; -120.15500 [2]
6,234 ft (1,900 m) [2]
Beaver lodge on a side creek of Ward Creek, tributary to Lake Tahoe Ward Creek, side creek Lodge entry, 6-22-14 Guzzi.jpg
Beaver lodge on a side creek of Ward Creek, tributary to Lake Tahoe

Ward Creek is a 6.1-mile (9.8 km) eastward-flowing stream in Placer County, California, USA. [5] The creek flows into Lake Tahoe 2.7 miles (4.3 km) south of Tahoe City, California, and has undergone extensive restoration to reduce sediment and surface run-off to maintain the purity of Lake Tahoe.



Ward Creek and Ward Peak [6] are named for homesteader Ward Rush, whose claim was made on April 1, 1874. [1] In the early 1980s the McClatchy family donated lands on the south side of the creek to California State Parks. [7]


Ward Creek, the fourth largest stream (by area and discharge) of the 63 Tahoe Basin watersheds contributes 6% of the stream runoff flowing into Lake Tahoe. The creek was a major source of sediment related to erosion from subdivisions and logging roads in the watershed. [8] The Ward Creek watershed drains an area of 6,200 acres (2,500 ha) and has a North Fork beginning on the south slope of Ward Peak and a South Fork originating on the north side of Twin Peaks. The Ward Creek watershed is just north of the Blackwood Creek watershed, and just south of Alpine Meadows Ski Resort which is on the north side of Ward Peak and Scott Peak. The creek mainstem is paralleled by Ward Creek Boulevard/Road.


From 2006 to 2013 Ward Creek Park was restored by California State Parks, the California Tahoe Conservancy and other partners to reduce erosion which deposites sediment in Lake Tahoe, removal of fire-prone crowded trees and removal of a diversion dam. [9]

Beaver dams on Ward Creek reduce sediment and nutrient (such as phosphorus) loads that would otherwise flow to Lake Tahoe. [10] Recent evidence has shown that beaver (Castor canadensis) are native to the Sierra Nevada. [11] [12] Their dams do not appear to pose barriers to trout passage. [13]


Ward Creek Park is a California State Park whose 180 acres (73  ha ) is bordered by Ward Creek on the north and Highway 89 on the east. [9] The area along the creek is protected by the California State Parks system. The Park has an extensive trail system that ties in with the bike path along Highway 89 and connects with USFS trails to Stanford Rock (which lies midway between Twin Peaks and the mouth of Ward Creek) and the Tahoe Rim Trail.

See also

Related Research Articles

Kings Beach, California census-designated place in California, United States

Kings Beach is a census-designated place (CDP) in Placer County, California, United States on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. The population was 3,796 at the 2010 census, down from 4,037 at the 2000 census.

Lake Tahoe lake in California and Nevada, United States

Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada of the United States. Lying at 6,225 ft (1,897 m), it straddles the state line between California and Nevada, west of Carson City. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, and at 122,160,280 acre⋅ft (150.7 km3) trails only the five Great Lakes as the largest by volume in the United States. Its depth is 1,645 ft (501 m), making it the second deepest in the United States after Crater Lake in Oregon.

Merced River body of water in California

The Merced River, in the central part of the U.S. state of California, is a 145-mile (233 km)-long tributary of the San Joaquin River flowing from the Sierra Nevada into the San Joaquin Valley. It is most well known for its swift and steep course through the southern part of Yosemite National Park, where it is the primary watercourse flowing through Yosemite Valley. The river's character changes dramatically once it reaches the plains of the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, where it becomes a slow-moving meandering stream.

Truckee River stream in US states of California and Nevada

The Truckee River is a river in the U.S. states of California and Nevada. The river flows northeasterly and is 121 miles (195 km) long. The Truckee is the sole outlet of Lake Tahoe and drains part of the high Sierra Nevada, emptying into Pyramid Lake in the Great Basin. Its waters are an important source of irrigation along its valley and adjacent valleys.

Carson River river in Nevada, USA

The Carson River is a northwestern Nevada river that empties into the Carson Sink, an endorheic basin. The main stem of the river is 131 miles (211 km) long although addition of the East Fork makes the total length 205 miles (330 km), traversing five counties: Alpine County in California and Douglas, Storey, Lyon, and Churchill Counties in Nevada, as well as the Consolidated Municipality of Carson City, Nevada. The river is named for Kit Carson, who guided John C. Frémont's expedition westward up the Carson Valley and across Carson Pass in winter, 1844.

Kern River river in California, USA

The Kern River, originally Rio de San Felipe, later La Porciuncula, is a river in the U.S. state of California, approximately 165 miles (270 km) long. It drains an area of the southern Sierra Nevada mountains northeast of Bakersfield. Fed by snowmelt near Mount Whitney, the river passes through scenic canyons in the mountains and is a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking. It is the southernmost major river system in the Sierra Nevada, and is the only major river in the Sierra that drains in a southerly direction.

Owens River river in the United States of America in California

The Owens River is a river in eastern California in the United States, approximately 183 miles (295 km) long. It drains into and through the Owens Valley, an arid basin between the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada and the western faces of the Inyo and White Mountains. The river terminates at the endorheic Owens Lake south of Lone Pine, at the bottom of a 2,600 sq mi (6,700 km2) watershed.

Pescadero Creek river in the United States of America

Pescadero Creek is a major stream in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties in California. At 26.6 miles (42.8 km), it is the longest stream in San Mateo County and flows all year from springs in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Its source is at 1,880 feet (570 m) above sea level on the western edge of Castle Rock State Park, with additional headwaters in Portola Redwoods State Park, and its course traverses Pescadero Creek County Park and San Mateo County Memorial Park before entering Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve at Pescadero State Beach and thence to the Pacific Ocean 14.4 miles (23 km) south of Half Moon Bay.

Beaver in the Sierra Nevada

The North American beaver had a historic range that overlapped the Sierra Nevada in California. Before the European colonization of the Americas, beaver were distributed from the arctic tundra to the deserts of northern Mexico. The California Golden beaver subspecies was prevalent in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds, including their tributaries in the Sierra Nevada. Recent evidence indicates that beaver were native to the High Sierra until their extirpation in the nineteenth century.

Martis Creek river in the United States of America

Martis Creek is a northward-flowing stream originating on Sawtooth Ridge, west of the peak of Mount Pluto in Placer County, California, United States. After crossing into Nevada County, California, it is tributary to the Truckee River on the eastern side of Truckee.

Meeks Creek tributary of Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County, California

Meeks Creek is a western tributary of Lake Tahoe which has its source on Rubicon Lake, 1.2 miles (1.9 km) northeast of Phipps Peak in Desolation Wilderness, trends northwest through Stony Ridge Lake, Shadow Lake, Crag Lake, and Lake Genevieve 3.5 miles (5.6 km), continues northeast 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to Meeks Bay on Lake Tahoe. At its mouth is the tiny town of Meeks Bay, California, in El Dorado County, California, United States.

Red Clover Creek is a northwestward-flowing stream originating on Horton Ridge east of the Sierra Nevada crest in Plumas County, California, United States. It courses 27 miles (43 km) through Dotta Canyon and the Red Clover Valley, culminating in Last Chance Creek, which flows in turn, into Indian Creek in the Genesee Valley, and from there to the East Branch North Fork Feather River. The Red Clover Valley sits at an elevation of about 5,400 feet (1,600 m) and is located on the east side of the Sierra Nevada crest, approximately 60 miles (97 km) north of Truckee and 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Quincy. This region of the northern Sierra Nevada is known as the Diamond Mountains.

Griff Creek river in the United States of America

Griff Creek is a southward-flowing stream originating on Martis Peak in Placer County, California, United States. It culminates in north Lake Tahoe at Kings Beach, California.

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 (Truckee River tributary) river in California, United States of America

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.

Mill Creek (Mono Lake) stream in Mono County, California, USA, tributary to Mono Lake

Mill Creek is a 14.5-mile-long (23.3 km) perennial stream that flows east from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range into Mono Lake, in Mono County, California. It courses through Lundy Canyon and Lundy Lake, before passing through Mono City, California on its way to Mono Lake.

Taylor Creek (Lake Tahoe) river in the United States of America

Taylor Creek is a 2.2-mile-long (3.5 km) northward-flowing stream originating in the Fallen Leaf Lake and culminating at Baldwin Beach at Lake Tahoe, about 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Camp Richardson in El Dorado County, California.

Blackwood Creek (California) river in California, United States of America

Blackwood Creek is a 8-mile-long (13 km) eastward-flowing stream originating on the southwest flank of Ellis Peak in the Sierra Nevada. The creek flows into Lake Tahoe 4.2 miles (6.8 km) south of Tahoe City, California, between the unincorporated communities of Idlewild and Tahoe Pines in Placer County, California, United States.

Incline Creek river in the United States of America

Incline Creek is a 5.2-mile (8.4 km) southward-flowing stream originating in the Carson Range, Sierra Nevada in the northeast Lake Tahoe Basin in Washoe County in western Nevada. Incline Creek flows through the Diamond Peak Ski Area on the way to Incline Village where it empties into Lake Tahoe.

North Canyon Creek is a 6.8-mile-long (10.9 km) southwestward-flowing stream originating on Snow Valley Peak in the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada. Most of the stream is in Carson City, Nevada, United States. It is a tributary stream of Lake Tahoe culminating at Glenbrook in Douglas County on Tahoe's Nevada shore.


  1. 1 2 Barbara Lekisch (1988). Tahoe Place Names: the Origin and History of Names in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Lafayette, California: Great West Books. p. 147. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  2. 1 2 3 4 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Ward Creek
  3. "The Washo Project Online Dictionary" . Retrieved 2012-05-27.
  4. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Twin Peaks
  5. 1 2 U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed July 16, 2013
  6. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Ward Peak
  7. Kathryn Reed (2013-09-17). "Restoration brings out charm of Ward Creek Park". Lake Tahoe News. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  8. Robert L. Leonard, Louis A. Kaplan, John F. Elder, Robert N. Coats and Charles R. Goldman (September 1979). "Nutrient Transport in Surface Runoff from a Subalpine Watershed, Lake Tahoe Basin, California". Ecological Monographs. 49 (3): 281–310. doi:10.2307/1942486. JSTOR   1942486.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  9. 1 2 California State Parks Completes Major Environmental Renovation of Ward Creek Unit (PDF) (Report). California State Parks. 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  10. Muskopf, Sarah (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. p. 23. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  11. James, C. D., Lanman, R. B. (Spring 2012). "Novel physical evidence that beaver historically were native to the Sierra Nevada". California Fish and Game. 98 (2): 129–132. Retrieved 2014-06-17.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  12. R. B. Lanman, H. Perryman, B. Dolman, Charles D. James (Spring 2012). "The historical range of beaver in the Sierra Nevada: a review of the evidence". California Fish and Game. 98 (2): 65–80. Retrieved 2014-06-17.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  13. Ryan L. Lokteff, Brett B. Roper, Joseph M. Wheaton (2013). "Do Beaver Dams Impede the Movement of Trout?" (PDF). Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 142: 1114–1125. doi:10.1080/00028487.2013.797497 . Retrieved 2014-06-28.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)