The historic distribution of the Paiute cutthroat trout is limited to 14.7 kilometers (9.1 miles) of habitat in Silver King Creek from Llewellyn Falls downstream to Silver King Canyon as well as the accessible reaches of three small named tributaries: Tamarack Creek, Tamarack Lake Creek, and the lower reaches of Coyote Valley Creek downstream of barrier falls. This watershed is entirely within the boundaries of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest . Currently, Paiute cutthroat trout are not found within its historic range.
The present distribution of Paiute cutthroat trout consists of a population in Silver King Creek above Llewellyn Falls and tributary populations in Fly Valley, Four Mile Canyon Creek, Coyote Valley, and Corral Valley creeks, and four self-sustaining, pure populations outside the native drainage in the North Fork of Cottonwood and Cabin creeks (Inyo National Forest), and Stairway and Sharktooth creeks (Sierra National Forest).
Paiute cutthroat trout life history and habitat requirements appear to be similar to those reported for other western stream-dwelling salmonids. All life stages require cool, well-oxygenated waters. Adult fish prefer stream pool habitat in low gradient meadows with undercut or overhanging banks and abundant riparian vegetation. Pools are important rearing habitat for juveniles and act as refuge areas during winter. During the winter months, trout move into pools to avoid physical damage from ice scouring and to conserve energy. As with other salmonids, suitable winter habitat may be more restrictive than summer habitat.