The Pine Forest Range, in northern Nevada’s arid Great Basin, is a rare and exceptional area of abundant streams and clear, cold subalpine lakes, amidst the sagebrush steppes of the lower elevations. Just north of the Black Rock Desert and east of Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, this mountain range features four distinct subalpine lakes stocked with trout for anglers. Off-highway vehicle trails take visitors between the lakes while also traversing pristine meadows, rocky outcroppings, and scenic vistas. Notable wildlife in the area include antelope, mule deer, bighorn sheep, pika, chuckar, and mountain lions in addition to many raptorial and songbird species.
Nestled in a cirque and fed by snowmelt and springs, these lakes are not only visually stunning but also possess an excellent trout fishery. The lakes are surrounded by a rare remnant population of white bark and limber pines; stands of quaking aspen and mountain mahogany are also found throughout the area. Fall brings a riot of color found in few other places in northern Nevada.
Primitive campgrounds are found around each of the lakes nestled in groves of quaking aspens with hiking trails leading up into the surrounding pine forests.
The spectacular scenery and vistas, combined with outstanding recreational opportunities, draw thousands of visitors annually. Despite being one of the most highly visited recreational areas in the region, the area still appears pristine. Day hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, hunting, fishing, and camping are all popular in the area. Visitors enjoy a true primitive recreation experience, without trails or facilities. Even during peak visitation periods, solitude is easy to find in the rugged terrain.
From Winnemucca, drive 30 miles north on US Highway 95, and then 50 miles west on State Highway 140. Turn left on Alta Creek Rd. The Blue Lake trailhead and the reservoirs are about 15 miles from Highway 140.
Rules of the Road
Land Manager: BLM - Winnemucca District Office
BLM Winnemucca District Office
5100 East Winnemucca Blvd.
Winnemucca, NV 89445
Motor vehicles are permitted on designated trails only. For local regulations regarding OHV use on county roads, visit the BLM OHV Website https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/OHV.
Always plan ahead and prepare for uncertainty. Travel with warm clothing, first aid, food, water and appropriate tools to fix a problem.
Traveling in groups is always a good idea, as well as informing someone of where you will be going.
- Register Your Vehicle
- Make sure your vehicle is equipped with a spark arrestor
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Trail Users