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Mt. Watson

Monday, June 10, 2024

Other Names

Dollar Creek, Tahoe National Forest, Mount Pluto, Watson Lake, Watson Creek, Burton Creek, Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

Last Known StatusOpen

This part of the Tahoe National Forest offers about seven miles of moderately challenging forest service roads that are open to all vehicle types. There are no single track trails that are open to motorized use but is still a good spot to get a quick and easy day ride in.

There are some short hiking trails that offer some really nice lake views and a good spot to access the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile hiking trail that loops around Lake Tahoe.

Camping is permitted at Watson Lake which has six designated primitive tent sites and a vault toilet. There is no fee charged but no services so plan ahead. Trailers are not recommended.

Trail Map... Nearby ATV Trails...


Permit RequiredYesCA OHMVR stickers required
Dates OpenJune 10 - November 15CA OHMVR red sticker vehicles permitted year round
Other ATV Stickers AcceptedYesResidents of any state not listed must purchase a Nonresident OHV Use Permit. (AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, IA, ID, IN, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI, WY)
Spark ArrestorYesA spark arresting exhaust silencer or end cap is required for all vehicles.
Noise LimitYes (96 dB)CA OHMVR noise limits apply (1985/older limit 101 dB, 1986/newer limit 96 dB)
Whip FlagsNot Required
Maximum Vehicle WidthNo Restriction
Allow Dirt Bikes, Trail Bikes and Motorcycles Motorcycles & Dirt BikesPermittedCA OHMVR stickers required
Allow All Terrain Vehicles / Quads / Four Wheelers ATVsPermittedCA OHMVR stickers required
Allow Utility Terrain Vehicles, Side by Sides (SXS), RZR UTV & SXSPermittedCA OHMVR stickers required
Allow 4x4 Jeeps, SUVs and 4 x 4 Trucks with License Plates SUVs & Jeeps (registered)Permitted
Dune Buggy & Sand Rail
4x4 (unregistered)
PermittedCA OHMVR stickers required
2 Stroke EnginesNo RestrictionCA OHMVR restrictions apply
MX Helmet RequiredYeshelmets required by state law
Camping / Overnight RV Parking CampingSome Areas(camp in developed sites only)
Campfire Restrictions CampfiresSome Areas(permitted in developed campsites only)
Night RidingUnknown
Trail BlazingProhibitedstay on the trail
Rule Enforcement


AreaMotorized Trails
LandNational Forest


CommentNo fee charged for camping but stay is limited to 7 days.


Our RatingRatingGood
Recommended StayHalf Day
Comments(Scroll Down For Rider Reviews & Comments)


Nearest CityTahoe City, CA
AddressMount Watson Road, Tahoe City, CA 96145
Go Back To California List
Trail MapGo To Trail Map
From: Truckee, CA
1) Take I-80 to Exit 188B
2) Turn right (south) onto Hwy 267, continue 8.5 miles
3) Turn right (west) onto Mt. Waston Road, continue about 6 miles
4) Turn left (east) onto Forest Service Road 16N50, continue about .5 miles toward trailhead.


Contact InfoLake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
35 College Drive
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(530) 543-2600



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Miles Of Trail7
Climate TypeForest
Elevation7200 to 7600 ft.
Trail MaintenanceMarked, Not Rated, Lightly Maintained
Loose DirtThis trail has no loose dirt.None
Hard PackThe trail has mostly hard pack terrain.Mostly
SandThis trail has little sandy areas.Little
MudThe trail has little mud after it rains.Little
DustThe trail has little dust on typical days.Little
RocksThis trail has little rocks.Little
TreesThe trail has almost all trees.All
Steep HillsThis trail has no steep hills.None
Water CrossingsThe trail has no water crossings.None
Small JumpsThis trail has no small jumps.None
Large JumpsThis trail has no large jumps.None
BermsThe trail has few berms.Few
Sand/Gravel PitsThis national forest has no sand or gravel pits.None
Single TrackThis national forest has no single track trails.None
RoadsThis national forest has mostly roads.Mostly
ShadeThis national forest has almost all shaded areas.All
HazardsThis trail has few hazards.Few(hazards assumed marked but use caution)
Easy Terrain NoviceThis trail has mostly beginner terrain.Mostly
Moderate Terrain AmateurThis trail has some intermediate level terrain.Some
Difficult Terrain ExpertThis trail has no expert terrain.None



Gasoline GasolineTahoe City, CA
Diesel DieselTahoe City, CA
Potable Water Water1-5 Miles (S)Tahoe State Recreation Area (530) 583-3074
RV Hookups RV Hookup20-30 Miles (S)Sugar Pine Point State Park (530) 525-7982 or (530) 525-3345
RV Dump Station RV Disposal20-30 Miles (S)Sugar Pine Point State Park (530) 525-7982 or (530) 525-3345
Primitive Camping CampgroundOn SiteMt. Watson Campground (530) 543-2600
Convenience Store Conv StoreTahoe City, CA
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