Immediately Northwest of Independence Lake lies pristine Cold Stream Meadow. Vegetated with native grasses, wildflowers, large red fir, lodgepole pine, and aspen, the meadow provides excellent habitat for migrating songbirds and mammals (including the recently spotted wolverine). This 1,200-acre area had been proposed for vacation homes but was conserved by the Land Trust and its partner The Trust for Public Land in 2009.
More than two miles of the popular Mt. Lola Trail cross this property. The property's signature feature, Cold Stream Creek, flows from the slopes of 9,148-foot high Mt. Lola, named for Lola Montez. Born Eliza Gilbert, Ms. Montez was actually Irish, assuming her Spanish name to reflect her style of dance and flashy demeanor. Tales of Mt Lola’s namesake are legendary. She was a gold-rush era courtesan, world traveler and entertainer, well-known for her fierce temper and tenacity.
What to Do There
Cold Stream Meadow is a wildflower lover’s dream and is open to hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. After a steady, nearly 3-mile climb through forest and along the Cold Stream Creek Canyon, the trail reaches the meadow. There is a remarkable array of wildflowers throughout the half-mile long meadow, accompanied by birds and butterflies.
Continuing on to the Mt. Lola summit: Another steady and steeper climb begins through mixed coniferous forest at the upper end of the meadow. Don’t miss the beautiful waterfall just off the trail! The waterfall is about a mile from the upper end of the meadow on the right side of the trail. The trail reaches the open Northeast shoulder of Mt. Lola and follows it to the summit. As you approach the summit, you may have to cross a patch of snow. The 360-degree views of the Sierra crest, including the Sierra Buttes and Mt. Lassen are worth the effort. From the trailhead to the summit is about 5.5 miles and the total ascent is about 3,200.’ Check some of the Sierra Nevada trail books for a more detailed description as well as the USGS 7.5 minute Independence Lake topo map.
How to Get There
From Interstate 80 in Truckee, drive north on Highway 89 approximately 17 miles to Jackson Meadows Road and turn left. Drive about 1.5 miles to a left turn marked “Independence Lake Road”. Turn left onto this graded dirt road, cross the bridge over the Little Truckee River, and proceed to the first right turn (0.8 mi from Jackson Meadows Rd). This unsigned road is Henness Pass Rd, one of the most-used routes across the Sierra during the mid-1800s. In just over 3 miles, the Mt. Lola trailhead parking area is on the left (watch carefully for the sign because it is partially unreadable).
OTHER LAND TRUST PROPERTIES IN THE AREA
Cold Stream Meadow is one of five properties in the upper Little Truckee River Watershed that has been conserved by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and its conservation partners. Little Truckee River Watershed map.