Photo of Crooked Lake, Nevada County, CA

Crooked Lake Fishing

Grouse Ridge - Nevada County

Photo of Crooked Lake at Grouse Ridge, Nevada County, CA

Crooked Lake

Crooked Lake is tucked in among the rocks away from the main trail in the Grouse Ridge area north of Interstate 80 in northern California. While many of Crooked Lake's neighbors are shallow ponds, Crooked Lake is large enough and deep enough to support good size rainbow and brook trout.

Even though Grouse Ridge is a popular destination for people enjoying the outdoors, most don't wander off trail. The trek to Crooked Lake involves a little cross-country travel, but nothing difficult. You will most likely have the lake to yourself.

Getting to Crooked Lake

To get to Crooked Lake from Highway 80 west of Donner Summit, take the Highway 20 exit and follow it west 4 miles until you come to the Bowman Lake turnoff. Follow this paved road 8.2 miles to the turnoff to Carr Lake. Travel on a slow, bumpy dirt road for 3 miles to trailhead parking at Carr Lake. 4-wheel drive is not necessary unless patches of spring snow are still on the road. (34 minutes travel time from Hwy 20 to Carr Lake.)

In My Creel

  • 1/6 oz. Brown Trout Thomas Buoyant
  • Super Duper
  • Rooster Tail
  • salmon eggs
  • Berkley Power Bait
  • Mike's Glitter Mallows

I tried a variety of lures and baits while fishing at Crooked Lake.

Photo of Island Lake at Grouse Ridge, Nevada County, CA

Island Lake

The hike to Crooked Lake is 2.5 miles. During the hike you will climb about 200 feet and lose about 200 feet. Begin at the Carr Lake trailhead and hike 1 mile past Feeley Lake to the trail junction near Island Lake. Turn left there and hike 1 mile, past Island Lake and past a small pond. Then turn right off the trail and head for Crooked Lake.

Using a USGS map you can easily identify your destination. It is the largest of the cluster of lakes called Crooked Lakes. Hike cross country downhill about a third of a mile to the lake. There are no maintained trails to Crooked Lake, but use-trails can be picked up and followed. The map shows many other little lakes in the vicinity but all the ones I explored were shallow and filled with water plants. Not so good for fishing. Maybe frogs.

Accommodations and Supplies

Lodging is available at nearby Cisco Grove, Soda Springs, or Norden. You also could go over Donner Pass to Truckee or Tahoe City. Campsites can be found at Carr Lake, Lake Spaulding, Rucker Lake, and Lindsey Lake. The best backpacking campsite at Crooked Lake is on the eastern side, on a bench overlooking the lake. You might also consider camping at Island Lake since it is so close. There are nice sites all around the lake.

California's Best Camping logo

To find the very best campgrounds in the area and all across California, visit California's Best Camping.

Photo of Crooked Lake at Grouse Ridge, Nevada County, CA

Crooked Lake

For complete information about campgrounds, lodging, and recreation around the Donner Summit area, see Around Donner Summit.

logo saying Around Donner Summit

A good selection of fishing supplies, camping gear, and food can be purchased in Nyack, only a few miles west on Interstate 80 from the Highway 20 junction. The store is open 24 hours a day. A gas station and Burger King are located there also. If you are coming up Highway 49/20, stop in Grass Valley at the new Reel Anglers Fly Shop at 760 South Auburn St.

Recommended Books for Fishing Grouse Ridge


The entire Grouse Ridge area is sprinkled with lakes. Once you enter the region you can fish your way from lake to lake for days without repeating yourself. Other destinations listed in this guide that could easily be reached from Crooked Lake are shown below.

Staying on the right route while moving from lake to lake can be tricky in the Grouse Ridge area, especially if you strike out cross country. Carry good maps and a compass or a reliable GPS.

Photo of Feeley Lake at Grouse Ridge, Nevada County, CA

Feeley Lake

Nearby Featured Trips in Nevada County: