Trails & Plazas
Partnering with a diverse group of local and regional
stakeholders and other interested parties, LADWP
created three public access trails and viewing areas as
part of the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Program. The
trails—Boulder Creek Trailhead, Plaza Trailhead and
Dirty Socks Trailhead—allow viewing access to over
120 bird species and other wildlife.
The trailheads feature a land art installation designed by Perry Cardoza of Nuvis Landscape Architecture and engineered by CDM Smith. The land art installation includes a central plaza, surrounding paths, and natural art and architectural elements.
The Owens Lake Trails could not have happened without the cooperation and support of community stakeholders, other interested parties and our partners, including the California State Lands Commission, Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, the Paiute-Shoshone Tribes, and the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society.
The Plaza Trailhead’s most noticeable feature is the Plover Wing Plaza, inspired by the Snowy Plover, a bird that appears in the Owens Lake area during spring and summer. The curved columns of the structure are patterned after the bird’s curved wing while in flight. The eye-catching plaza serves as a gathering place for visitors and a starting point for hikers and explorers. Because the Snowy Plover is known to nest in gravel on the ground, the Plaza’s designers placed a large boulder in the center of smaller rocks in the middle of the plaza to resemble a nest. The designers also created 14 mound-like structures to resemble whitecaps, rolling white water formations on the surface of a big active lake. These small structures help in dust control by keeping particles from being gathered up by wind. The rocks used for the whitecaps also help to provide habitat for reptiles, insects, and mammals. Around the plaza are gravel paths and roads that lead visitors to marshes, habitat islands, reflecting ponds, and local fauna. The entire project creates public access opportunities for bird watchers, artists, scientists, and researchers as well as casual observers and visitors.
Boulder Creek Trailhead
The Boulder Creek trailhead are distinguished by round, metal shade structures with benches that resemble a cross section of the L.A. Aqueduct. The Boulder Creek trailhead can be accessed from Highway 395, where there is also an information kiosk. The trail measures 0.58 miles and meanders through managed vegetation designed to mitigate dust on the once barren playa by mimicking native alkali meadow. There are birds visible in the nearby mudflats and a large shallow flooding pond to the south.
Dirty Socks Trailhead
The Dirty Socks Trailhead can be accessed from Highway 190 via the Dirty Socks T1A-2 access route. The trail is about 0.36 miles in length and features a viewpoint overlooking managed vegetation. Dirty Socks took on its name because a nearby natural spring with a high sulfur content offers an aroma that may remind some of dirty socks. There is also a parking area there as well as another information kiosk.
Public Safety and Access Guidelines
LADWP wants you to enjoy your visit to the Owens Lake Trails. To ensure a safe and pleasurable experience, we ask that you follow these public access guidelines:
- Please drive only on maintenance berm roads and park only in designated parking areas. Maintenance berm roads are not paved, may be narrow, and are used by heavy construction vehicles.
- Please don’t stop or exit your vehicle on a maintenance berm road unless you are in a designated parking area.
- Please slow down and yield to construction vehicles and heavy equipment.
- Please do not drive on muddy surfaces or in unauthorized areas. You will be responsible if your vehicle gets stuck and needs to be extricated.
- Do not enter areas where construction or maintenance is taking place.
- Please walk only on designated walkways and paths. - Please do not consume water from any part of the lake. It is not safe for consumption.
- Make sure to bring ample amounts of drinking water with you.
- Do not enter any irrigated or flooded areas.
- Please deposit all trash into designated waste bins.
- Please do not drive in excess of 25 mph for safety reasons and to prevent the circulation of dust.
- Keep dogs and other pets leashed at all times.
- Please do not start any fires.
Please call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. Be aware that cell phone reception might not be available in all areas of Owens Lake. Camping is prohibited at Owens Lake. For questions on public access or safety call (760) 876-4109.