Map of Walker Lake
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Walker Lake is a terminal
lake (lake with no outlet) that is fed by the Walker River with its headwaters
in the Sierra Nevada (California). It is
a remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan that once covered most of the Great Basin. Since
the early 1950’s, the Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT) fishery was maintained
only through stocking. Fresh water has a
total dissolved solid (TDS) of less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L),
while TDS in Walker Lake now exceeds 21,000 mg/L. LCT no longer occurs in Walker Lake due to this
extremely high TDS (alkalinity and salt) and even tui chub, the primary forage
of LCT in Walker Lake, are unable to survive.
Walker Lake is nearly 13 miles long and 5 miles
wide, with a maximum depth of about 80 feet.
Under better environmental conditions in Walker Lake, LCT was found to
live up to nine years and achieve weights greater than 10 pounds. Over time, however, the TDS reached lethal
limits for LCT and no LCT has been reported by
anglers or during sampling surveys since winter of 2010. Walker Lake still has much to offer such as
boating, canoeing/kayaking, wind surfing, and birdwatching. There is a basic campground at the BLM Sportsman’s
Beach Recreation Site and primitive camping is allowed at many access sites
around the lake. Restrooms can be found
at several locations
At Walker Lake State Recreation Area and in all boat harbors and other public areas, boats must be operated at a speed that leaves a flat wake. No boating is allowed within a 100-yard radius of the Rose Creek confluence on the southwest side of the lake. No boating is allowed on the south end of Walker Lake that is buoyed-off by the Hawthorne Army Depot. The lake level is low enough to where boat ramps are considered primitive and not maintained, use of 4-wheel drive is recommended. Launch at your own risk.
Walker Lake is 55 miles south of Fallon along U.S. 95. The lake lies 12 miles north of the town of Hawthorne. Access from the west is on U.S. 95A, 50 miles Southeast of Yerington. Access roads can be sandy, so use caution.