Curtz Lake Trail

The BLM and Alpine County Trails Association have recently improved and expanded the trails at Curtz Lake, an ecologically interesting place just off Highway 89, between Woodfords and Markleeville in Alpine County, California.

Curtz Lake area map

Curtz lake is a seasonal lake with a small watershed and no outlet, so in years with little snow and rain, the lake hardly fills at all and dries up completely in spring or early summer. In years with heavy winter snowfall, it becomes much deeper, and may hold some water all through the summer and fall. This past winter (2015-16) had near-normal precipitation, so there was a near-medium amount of water in June.

Curtz Lake

Curtz Lake has two basins, so when water levels are low, it looks like two smaller lakes. This is the larger, deeper, northeast basin. Lots of emergent vegetation.

Curtz Lake

This is the smaller, shallower, southwest basin of Curtz Lake.

Curtz Lake trail

It takes a lot of work to make a trail this easy to walk through rocky terrain, dense with trees that have low branches.


A milkvetch or locoweed (Astragalus sp.)

Raymond Peak fron the Curtz Lake trail

A distant view of the very rugged Raymond Peak (10,014 ft).

Curtz Lake trail

Hawkins Peak (10,024 ft) from the trail. The elevation here is about 6,300 feet.


Anderson’s larkspur (Delphinium andersonii)

Curtz Lake trail

There are numerous interpretive signs along the trail — all very well designed and informative.

Curtz Lake trail

Curtz Lake trail

Looking northeast toward the Pine Nut Mountains of Douglas County, Nevada.

Curtz Lake was named for Captain Peter Curtz, a long-time resident of this area from the late 1850s into the early 20th century. He was a prosperous miner, a District Attorney, a Supervisor, and school board member in Alpine County (1).

Seems to me a person with these accomplishments should have a larger, more permanent lake to bear his name, but natural lakes are in limited supply in Alpine County. He would no doubt be pleased with the attention his pond has received lately.

(1) Alpine County Historical Society. 2005. Alpine County, California: Bear Valley, Kirkwood, and Markleeville (Images of America Series).

Copyright © 2016 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
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