Lower Carpenter Valley

Please note: The Land Trust’s newest acquisition, Lower Carpenter Valley, is available for public access this summer of 2018 via docent-led hikes only while our stewardship team implements our comprehensive management plan for this special property 

Truckee Donner Land Trust and its partners, The Nature Conservancy, and the Northern Sierra Partnership are pleased to announce the newest property in the Land Trust portfolio, Lower Carpenter Valley, 1,320 acres just north of Truckee’s Town boundary and the Tahoe Donner subdivision. The Valley contains a variety of habitat types and is a top priority for biodiversity conservation in the Sierra Nevada. The entire Valley, thanks to conservation-minded private landowners to the west and the previous owners, provides an extremely large, complex mixture of high quality Sierran habitat.  

If the Land Trust and its partners had not acquired the 600 acres in the lower meadow mere eight miles from downtown Truckee, it might have been subdivided into seven estate parcels.  The impacts from development would be devastating to the meadow and rich habitat the lower meadow provides.


Lower Carpenter Valley includes wet meadow, fresh water emergent wetland, riverine, and fen habitat types, as well as red fir, lodgepole pine, and mixed-conifer forest. It supports wildlife species including black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, and various bird species and is summer range for the Loyalton-Truckee deer herd.  Several special-status species are likely found in Carpenter Valley including willow flycatcher, wolverine, mountain yellow-legged frog, and Pacific fisher.

Given its size, healthy geomorphic condition, and hydrologic regime, Carpenter Valley retains a large quantity of runoff from the Sierra Crest.  During the summer, the meadow feeds Prosser Creek with clean, cold water, that in turn sustains high quality aquatic habitat in Prosser Creek and the Truckee River. It is, in short, an example of how a subalpine Sierra meadow should work. Federal and state officials have identified the North Fork of Prosser Creek that bisects the meadow as ideal for the recovery of native Lahontan cutthroat trout.


The Land Trust’s newest acquisition, Lower Carpenter Valley, is available for public access this summer of 2018 via docent-led hikes only while our stewardship team implements our comprehensive management plan for this special property. (Please note: Because of the sensitive nature of the environment, dogs are not allowed in Carpenter Valley, but are welcomed on every other Land Trust property.) But, we can’t wait to show off it off, so we have arranged opportunities to visit the valley this summer with one of our trained and certified docents starting in late May, just as soon as we forecast the access road to be drivable.

A visit to Lower Carpenter Valley is accessible to all hikers. Each group will travel 5 miles round trip along a level fire road. This hike will focus on scenery and history, not speed, so budget three hours, 9 to noon, for the outing. Expect periodic stops for your Land Trust docent to point out the more interesting historic and natural features of the valley. Carpenter Valley is a hot spot for biodiversity and the wildflowers are constantly changing during the course of the summer.

Register for one of our Carpenter Valley tours, May through October 2018


Summer access only: Find Carpenter Valley road, the only turn North off Alder Creek Drive between the Tahoe Donner subdivision and Highway 89. This Forest Service dirt road is gated in the winter but drive-able in the summer. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended in early season when there are traces of snow on the road. Follow Carpenter Valley Road 2.25 miles from Alder Creek to a locked gate with Truckee Donner Land Trust signage. Please park in one of the pull-offs.


Clarifying ownership: Part of Carpenter Valley remains in private ownership. The Land Trust owns approximately 63% of the meadow that comprises the Valley’s floor that is the conservation prize.  A lateral moraine neatly divides Land Trust and private ownership. (Please see map this page.)  For good relations with the Land Trust’s neighbors, it is important to respect their right to privacy and not trespass onto property to the west.  Signs mark the property boundaries.

Conservation Easement: Lower Carpenter Valley is a hotbed of biodiversity and your Land Trust is implementing a conservation easement that will allow us to protect it. No dogs or horses, please. Access during the summer of 2017 via Docent Hikes Only


Crabtree Canyon

Part of the Lower Carpenter Valley acquisition, Crabtree Ridge/Crabtree Canyon was protected by a conservation easement and transitioned to Tahoe Donner Association’s land portfolio in April 2016. Tahoe Donner has winter cross country skiing trails (trail pass required at Tahoe Donner Cross County) and summer hiking and mountain biking trails accessible through Euer Valley.

Independence Lake Preserve

Approximately 3 miles as the crow flies North of Carpenter Valley over Carpenter Peak, it’s on the Land Trust’s to do list to link Lower Carpenter Valley to Independence Lake via trail. Stay tuned!

Banner Photo Above by Sam Okamoto Photography