All posts by DanaMite

Gen-X Camp diva DanaMite, founder of Total Escape. California, off the Beaten Path [est. 1996]

San Rafael Wilderness

Sierra Madre Mountains
Cachuma Lake to Cuyama Valley

Sierra Madre Mountains

197,380 acres
Central Coast Foothills
Los Padres National Forest

NFSlogoNorth of Santa Barbara, CA
East of Santa Maria, CA
South of New Cuyama, CA
West of Ventucopa, CA

San Rafael Wilderness is otherwise known as the Santa Barbara backcountry. The Sierra Madre mountains and San Rafael mountains make up the this chunk of wilderness, a vast open space near the coast – which extends from Lake Cachuma to the Cuyama River Valley. This is the southern ridge line along Highway 166, with few pine trees, mostly oaks, leading west to Santa Maria River.

hikerFigueroa Mountain and Lake Cachuma are to the south near Santa Barbara. Vineyards and wineries skirt the western hills of Santa Maria, cattle grazing, oil fields and agriculture line the northern borders near Cuyama Valley. Dick Smith Wilderness is just to the east a little bit, spanning over toward Hwy 33.

OHV: better known as off-roading and dirt biking is common in the foothills behind Santa Barbara, as well as on the west side of the San Rafael Wilderness, near Miranda Pine and Tepusquet Road. Numerous small campgrounds on dirt roads are positioned around the perimeter, but no OHV trails lead into the wilderness areas.

McPherson Peak – 5749′ elevation
Peak Mountain – 5843′DSCN5759
Timber Peak – 4764′
Miranda Pine Mountain – 4120′
Wheat Peak – 2436′

trailheads –

  • via Figueroa Road #8N09
  • Cachuma Saddle
  • Davy Brown
  • McPherson Peak, on Sierra Madre Ridge
  • Painted Rock, on Sierra Madre Ridge
  • Santa Barbara Canyon, off Hwy 166

developed campgrounds surrounding the wilderness

  • Davy Brown Campground
  • Nira Campground
  • Cachuma Campground
  • Figueroa Campground
  • Manzana Schoolhouse
  • Colson Canyon (OHV) #11N04
  • Brookshire Springs
  • Miranda Pine #11N03
  • Horseshoe Springs
  • Lazy Campground
  • Wagon Flat Campground
  • Barrel Springs #10N06
  • Alesandro Campground

back road access –

  • Figueroa Mountain Road #8N09
  • Tepusquet Road, off Hwy 166
  • Miranda Pine Road #11N03
  • Sierra Madre Ridge Road #32S13
  • Cottonwood Canyon Rd @ Hwy 166
  • Santa Barbara Canyon Rd, off Hwy 166

indian rock art

Native American petroglyphs can be found in this remote region of Central California, but may require topographic skills, detective work, trekking and at least a full day of physical action.

PigPen Trailhead

Access to ”Painted Rock” on Sierra Madre ridge is hike/bike in only. The dirt road that access these trailheads are rough road and not maintained. High clearance may be needed. This day trip is an all-day adventure and you might want to consider bringing the mountain bike. Just stay on the road, as rangers will ticket for riding in the designated Wilderness Areas.

from the west – If you plan to visit the rock art from the west side, take Cottonwood Canyon (small sign) turn off of Hwy 166. Pay attention to private property signs, cuz the locals are serious about their lands. Keep on driving up the mountain. Above Bates Canyon Campground up on the ridge, turn left, east on dirt road #32S13 – proceed several miles to the dirt parking area at the pig pen w/ locked gated and signed trailhead.

from the east – dirt road hike is about 10 miles (one way) and it starts at the Santa Barbara Canyon trailhead @ locked gated. Rural back road access requires a good topo map. Find Cuyama River @ Hwy 166, take the route on west side of bridge. East of New Cuyama, CA

nearby towns –

Rock Creek California

rockycreek

Rock Creek, CA

Due the nature of gravity, erosion and heavy rocks, creek beds tend to be rocky ravines near mountains – which collect rocks as they slide downhill. Creeks work as water drainage off the mountains. Inside California we have plenty of mountain ranges and plenty of movement, as the Pacific plate plows into North America, tectonically speaking.

How many Rock Creeks are inside the golden state of California? Heck, I dunno. Let’s try to find them all.

winterlodge

Probably the best known, is the one near Mammoth Lakes, CA

Eastern Sierra

Small Beach at Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek @ Mammoth

Rock Creek Road, Eastern Sierra
Inyo National Forest
Road #4S12
ROCK CREEK LAKE
NFS CAMPGROUND (9600′ elev w/ 66 sites)
GROUP CAMPGROUND (reservations required)
RESORTS
CABIN RENTALS
Road #6S05
WILDERNESS TRAILHEADS – Mosquito Flat, Little Lakes Valley Trailhead, Mono Pass, Morgan Pass, John Muir Trail (JMT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

US395

US 395 @ Rock Creek exit is Toms Place, CA

rockcreeklakeresort

fallflames
Eastern Sierra Rock Creek Rd
ruggedwalls
Rock Creek Canyon, Eastern Sierra

driftwood

Western Sierra

Off Road Gold Country, Sierra foothills

Rock Creek, Western Sierra4x4
Eldorado National Forest
HIKING & HORSEBACK
OHV TRAILS
4×4 CAMPS
Georgetown, CA
RUBICON TRAIL @ LOON LAKE

RockCreekOHV

 

driftwood

Western Sierra

How can we forget creek camping & trail access south of Shaver?

bald mtn
Jeepers on granite @ Bald Mountain, above Shaver Lake, CA

Shaver Lake, Sierra National Forest

Rock Creek Rd, Southern Sierra
Dinkey Creek Area
Sierra National Forest
PRIMITIVE, DISPERSED CAMPING
4×4 TRAILS
BALD MOUNTAIN elev 7832′
DINKEY DOME elev 7697′
DUSY IRSHIM TRAIL
Shaver Lake, CA

driftwood

Northern Sierra

Feather River Canyon

Rock Creek, Highway 70
North fork Feather Riverhiker

Large feeder creek from the north side of highway (California SR 70), in Plumas National Forest. Located in the popular railroad canyon known as the Feather River Canyon. Right here Rock Creek even has a reservoir.

Sugar Loaf Mountain elev 3553′ with Tobin Ridge line each side of Rock Creek as it descends the mountain tops. The junction where the creek meets the big river is just south of Bucks Creek Power Station @ STORRIE, CA. The overall location is half way in between OROVILLE, CA and QUINCY, CA

driftwood

But wait, we have California Campgrounds named Rock Creek too.

camp

Mammoth Reservoir
Mammoth Pool Reservoir

Rock Creek Campground – Mammoth Pool Reservoir, south of Yosemite National Park, behind Bass Lake, CA Sierra National Forest (18 camp sites)

Rock Creek Campground – US Hwy 101 NorCal Redwood forests, north of Leggett, CA. Camp located on the Eel River, in the Standish Hickey State Recreation Area. (36 camp sites)

Also the is a small ROCK LAKE located inside Lakes Basin Recreation Area, northern Gold Country @ Yuba River headwaters. Hike-in access only.

Rock Front OHV

Similarly named ROCK FRONT RANCH is 4×4 trails & 4WD camping area. Cool windcaves, super steep terrain, and wildflowers. Off Highway 166, east of the city of Santa Maria US 101 – on the Central Coast of Cali.

Rock Front Los Padres
Rock Front Ranch in Los Padres NF

dirtbikes

 

California Parks List

California Parks and Recreation

State Parks, State Forests, State Recreation Area, National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests – What is the Difference?

public lands

Forest, Park, Reserve, Monument, Recreation Area, BLM, Nature Preserve… arghh!

Don’t let all the park and forest names confuse you. It is all California and it is your public land! No bikes on trails, No gathering wood, No dogs here, No camping there; Now what?

Below is our overview graph for all California parks and forests – the basic concepts & the rules broken down for anyone to understand. Permits may be needed in certain areas. Only the government officials understand the true nature of all the ridiculous red tape.

CA Wilderness Areas California Wilderness Back country lands very protected from roads and human impact. Off limits to vehicles & mountain bikes. Only accessible by backpacking, hiking or horseback. Endangered species; Hard to reach terrains in the High Sierra. Overnight visits may require a wilderness permit.
CA National Parks California
National Parks – NPS: National Park Service
Federal lands are national parks, preserves & monuments; highly regarded as some of the most scenic in world & protected.  Very popular places and crowds often in summer. Limited use areas for camping & recreation. No mountain biking on trails. No dogs on trails. Try off-season. Drive thru entrance fees.
NM: California
National Monument
Located within the National Park System & more specific to a region. Historic buildings, geological features and deserts ruins qualify. Some National Monuments become National Parks. Many locations have entrance fees.
NRA: National Recreation Area Located within the National Park System & somewhat specific to a waterways, coastlines, lakes and reservoirs. Some locations have entrance fees.
NSA:
National Scenic Area National Seashore
Located within the National Park System & is basically scenic area worth preserving. Usually no entrance fees.
California National Parks
California USFS:
CA National Forests
USDA Forest Service
Areas of forest lands throughout state; some surround the National Parks. 18 national forests make up 20 million acres of federal land. Multiple use areas: snow skiing, mining, grazing, off-roading. OHV & SVRA Tons of small campgrounds, recreation & primitive spots for real seclusion. Best bet for finding a spot away from the crowds. Get a free fire permit & camp on back roads. No entrance fees, some parking or day use fees; SoCal requires an Adventure Pass.
California State Parks
California SP:
California State Parks
California Department of Parks & Recreation manages more than 260 parks. These smaller parks are located near cities with historical parks, as well as remote wild state land & coastal beaches. Entrance fees, day use, picnic and some have campgrounds. State Parks charge fees for day use, parking and overnight camping.
California SF: California State Forest California Demonstration Forests, areas to be protected. Redwoods & Sequoia Groves; fragile eco-systems. Handle with care. May charge entrance fee or day use fee.
California SRA:
State Recreation Areas
California Department of Parks and Recreation. Lakes, Reservoirs, Rivers. Many have boat rentals and active marina. Recreation lakes charge entrance, day use, parking or boat launch fees.
California OHV & SVRA: Off Hwy Vehicle Area and State Vehicle Recreation Areas Off Roading folks and dirt bikes can have their fun wheelin. Lands set aside for OHV use; dune buggies, quads & 4×4 enthusiasts. Most in desert regions; forest lands. Developed campgrounds large enough to accommodate RVs and trailers. Fees may apply in these off-road areas for day use or camping.
California County Parks Desert hot springs, oak foothills and campgrounds, local hills w/ hikes, parks close to urban regions. Back roads & rural land protected from freeways & development. May require parking or entrance fees. Find these listed on the California A-Z town pages
City Parks in California Urban Parks & Recreation, inside the city limits. Usually no entrance fees. Find these on California A-Z town pages
blm camps
BLM: public lands Bureau of Land Management All public lands that do not fall into the above categories. Little to no fees for day use, recreation or overnight camping. Plenty of desert & off roading areas. Some forest lands, certain lakes. Small campgrounds or open camping allowed. Fees may apply in developed campgrounds. Camp overnight almost anywhere out here for free, with a ranger issued camp fire permit.

califrepublic

 

Sequoia – which one?
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Forest
Giant Sequoia National Monument

Imagine that the Southern Sierra mountains is home to 3 different public parks named Sequoia. Yep, it’s true. Sequoia National Park, Sequoia National Forest, and Giant Sequoia National Monument. Other parks that have Sequoia groves are – Mountain Home State Forest, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, as well as Yosemite National Park.

As far as the Coastal Redwoods, most are included under State Parks. Find these parks on the Central Coast Big Sur and Santa Cruz mountains, plus Marin County, and all along the north coast US Hwy 101 from Mendocino to the Oregon border. Numerous redwoods parks are located along rivers.

we break it all down here on
Big, Tall, Old Trees

The super scenic Big Sur coastline is home to Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park and to the similarly named Pfieffer Big Sur State Park. Leave it to park personnel, state officials or the non-locals to create such a confusing naming system within our most-visited state.

hiker

Park Maps & Topos  topo maps

National Forest Atlas
National Forest Maps
National Park Maps
State Park Maps
BLM Maps

Lava Blue Lake
Lava Rock @ Blue Lake in Modoc County
holcombcamp
Holcomb Valley Camp, Big Bear Lake, CA
Wilderness with Horses Sierra Ski Maps Camping California Wilderness Rangers Snow Ski Topo Maps Mountain Biking Maps
Wilderness Hikes Wilderness Hiking Maps Wilderness Topo Maps Sierra Fishing Maps Sierra Topo Maps California Hiking Maps
holeinthegroundsign
Lassen Camping near a creek in Northern California

California Outdoor Recreation:
All parks, forests, preserves, monuments, public lands, lakes, rivers, wilderness, historical sites and museums can be found listed separately on our super duper local A-Z town pages

fout springs
Fout Springs, near Stonyford, Northern California

dirtbikes

Canyon Creek Campground

Tucked way back in the granite high elevations, near Donner Pass is a wilderness water flow called Canyon Creek. Connecting small lakes and big reservoir, this creek is part of the Nevada District water supply. The Sierra Nevada region is Tahoe National Forest and the terrain is abundant rock.

Campground is perched on the edge of rock overlooking the impressive whitewater; sounds of crashing water at certain campsites is deafening. Half of the campsites are located in a forest loop and the rest are out in the open, with much granite and fewer trees, perfect for star watchers.

Canyon Creek California

 

creekcanyon

Lake Faucherie is a mile up the creek and Sawmill Lake is a mile down stream, so it’s a great fishing location, as well as hiking, kayaking and canoeing destination. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is also routed close by. A hiking trailhead at the north end of Sawmill Lake leads to a loop hike of small lakes.

Tahoe Rd 843

roughest roads in the region

 

Campground loop is paved, but the 12+ mile access road is NOT.
Twenty plus miles of paved & gravel backroads in boulder-hopping bliss, leads to granite lined lakes and forested campsites. Two different driving routes into this canyon:

  • One is the longer way Road 18 – paved access off of Gold Country Highway 20, which becomes an 8 mile long, rocky, rough, one-lane road around Bowman Lake.
  • The other is slightly shorter, county road #843 that comes in the back way from Jackson Meadow Reservoir (off Hwy 89, N of Truckee).

Both of these primitive roads join at Jackson Creek Campground, a favorite among off-roaders.

Canyon Creek Campground is another few miles up Road ##843-037, a rugged canyon route towards Lake Faucherie, where the road comes to a dead end.

Don’t let the old maps fool you: these National Forest Roads are labeled as gravel roads, but boulders and rock slides are quite common. 4×4 would be nice, but high clearance is recommended.

Minimal signs designate trails, roads and lake access; What signs that do exist are old, faded and broken. No warning signage reading ‘high clearance’ or ‘4WD recommended’ – so obviously Tahoe NF won’t be installing new signs anytime soon.fish

  • backpacking

  • camping

  • canoeing

  • fishing

  • hiking

  • kayaking

  • stargazing

Grassy Picnic Faucherie Lake

Faucherie, Sawmill and Bowman Lakes are all along this waterway called Canyon Creek.

National Forest Campground
Latitude: 39.436863
Longitude: -120.579564

Canyon Creek Campground

• Elevation: 6600′
• Number of Sites: 20
• Toilet: Vault
• Vehicle Access: High Clearance Vehicle, no trailers
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: No
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: June – October
• Trailheads: Faucherie & Sawmill Lakes
• Managing agency: Nevada Irrigation District
530-265-5302

Small Site

Canyon Creek Campground is an excellent campground for staying away from the crowds, which seem to focus more around Bowman Lake & Jackson Meadows Reservoir.

check

All campsites at this campground have steel bear boxes – for proper food storage in black bear country.

granite camp

Prefer camping outside of developed campgrounds? then the primitive camp sites that line Canyon Creek will be a welcomed surprise. Most are clearly marked with small signs and some may require 4×4 to access. When fire restrictions are tight, campfires are only allowed in the developed campgrounds.

granite loop
Two paved loops at this small campground.

pinetree

Pandemic

califrepublic

Friday the 13th –
and all hell is breaking loose.

24 years ago, this web site began – with high hopes of being useful. Created to get you outside more often, finding new places and discovering life, out in nature. Staying fit and exercising, outdoors.

Never before would I have imagined that statewide events, fairs and festivals would be canceled or postponed, due to a global health threat. Nationwide we prepare for the worldwide pandemic. Weeks away, around the corner, how bad can it get?

desert_road

Here we are with the driest, warmest February on record, enjoying summer-like weather in winter, and expecting snow over the weekend. Almost on lock-down in California?

Staying put. Stay home, stay indoors.
Avoiding crowds, stores and public places.

And for those of us who aren’t so good at staying home, we have this vast online resource for traveling California – off the beaten path, and away from the masses.

58 counties
58 Counties in Calif

No baseball?

Travel industry at a standstill and hotels slashing rates. Dropping stock market, over-valued everything, uncertainty everywhere. Huge music festivals postponed, political rallies cancelled, cruise ship quarantined, fear is in the air.

plenty of space for everyone

butterfly

Spring Break = Outdoors

They want you – for your own safety – indoors, online, controlled and monitored. Wait, what?  Do we really need to stay inside 24/7 – stir crazy, checking news and social media hourly.

Turn off the television and the computer and go outside. Plant a garden, read a book, go for a long walk or a day hike. Find a new waterfall, dust off the old mountain bike or bring a picnic to the nearest open space.

Keep other people at a safe distance away, and be firm, but not rude. Think first before you travel – how many stops, enough gasoline, snacks and beverages, any public spaces.

poppy desert
California Poppy Park
desert camp
Desert Camping is best in Spring.

@ HOME, for how long?home

Choose the outdoors, over the indoors. Solo and safe. Secluded, distant, remote. Total Escape specializes in these types of locations.

Lupine on Pozo Rd

even more suggestions:

baldrockroad

California Yuba

Yuba River

Yuba California

Yuba county, city and river are located in the upper Sierra Nevada, north Gold Country. Only a few small towns around here, but lotsa National Forest land and gorgeous granite rock. Yuba City is well known for its orchards, agriculture and diverse population. Yuba River is a recreation hot spot most of the year – spanning from the foothill canyons up to higher elevation alpine lakes. Camping, kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, swimming holes & waterfalls.

Yuba River Downieville

California Yuba County

Yuba River, Sierra Nevada 

towns near the Yuba River:
Yuba City, California
Marysville, CA
North San Juan
Nevada City, California
Downieville, California
Sierra City, California
Truckee, California
Washington, CA
North Bloomfield
Bassetts

mountains

SUMMER = River Recreation

Most of us want to dunk ourselves in a cool mountain stream when the temperatures get beyond 100 degrees, which is summer months in Central California. Big rivers, like the Yuba are popular spots for all kinds of outdoor recreation and they really draw the crowds. Find your own piece of solitude by getting a good topo map of the region and exploring well away from the main road.

pinetree

This Yuba River gold country region of the Sierra Nevada mountains, is only about an hour drive up the hill from Sacramento; obviously, the further you drive the better it gets. Tons of one lane and dirt roads to explore. Fishing and camping almost everywhere.

Tahoe National Forest

California’s Yuba River headwaters start high in the mountains of the North Sierra. Northern Gold Rush Country.

NORTH FORK of the YUBA

Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Sierra Buttes
Gold Lake
Bassetts
Sierra City, CA
Downieville, CA

New Bullards Bar Reservoir
Nevada City, CA

Loganville
Loganville Campground
Indian Valley Campground
Indian Valley Campground, Tahoe National Forest

Several NFS Campgrounds, line the North Yuba River right along the Highway 49, between Bassetts and North San Juan, CA

  • Wild Plum Campground
  • Loganville Campground
  • Union Flat Campground
  • Cannon Point Campground
  • Ramshorn Campground
  • Rock Rest Campground
  • Indian Valley Campground
  • Fiddle Creek Campground

fish

MIDDLE FORK of the YUBA

This water comes from the rugged and remote Henness Pass area. The long, dirt, historic route Road 293 which connects  Reno, NV to the old mining camps along Highway 49 @ Camptonville, south of Downieville.

The Oregon covered bridge and the Bridgeport covered bridge run along this fork of the river. There is another State Park down @ Bridgeport; although bridge may be in reconstruction 2020.

A nice place to dip into the this fork of the river – is right off main Highway 49 on Moonshine Road, a secondary road that leads over to Bullards Bar Lake. Minimal parking spots and a steep hike down to the river; and you may have the whole place to yourself (on a weekday morning.)

Bridgeport Sign

middle yuba

hiker

SOUTH FORK of the YUBA

Donner Pass in the Truckee region, North side of Interstate 80. Snowmelt becomes creeks, around alpine lakes like Spaulding, Bowman, which all flow west. Graniteville & Washington, CA

edwards crossing
Edwards Crossing  from 1898

A very popular State Park for South Yuba is located along Hwy 49, north of Nevada City, CA. Many backpacking trails, mountain biking trails and day hiking trails, plus several old bridges (crossings), built before 1900 still exist and in use. Bureau of Land Management has the quietest and cheapest developed campground around these parts, accessible only by dirt road (North Bloomfield Road).

South Yuba River Map

yuba river map
Northern Gold Country: Yuba River Recreation Map

camp

NFS

Few National Forest Campgrounds are located on the South Fork. Many scenic, small lakes exist up in these higher altitudes, where the best camping is. Granite peaks, numerous creeks, forests and gravel roads.

bowmanbig
Big Bowman Lake

BEAR RIVER, Lake Faucherie, Sawmill Lake and Bowman Lake are all part of this Yuba watershed, along with about a dozen other lakes. Rugged granite gravel rock rocks will lead deep into these areas. 4WD or high clearance vehicle may be needed to reach these destinations.

The whole region gets buried DEEP feet in snow, so access is usually limited to summer and autumn only.

snow

faucherie

Mountain Biking Sequoia

Bald Mountain Lookout

Mountain Biking Kern & Biking Camps in Sequoia

Mountain biking has become a popular sport especially in California. We’ve got so much great terrain, so close to home (the urban sprawl), that this outdoor hobby is bound to get you back in shape, fast. Start slow to avoid burnout and injury. The weather is awesome, just go. Plan a camping weekend & bring your bike!

Remington

KERN RIVER AREA

Parks & Forests in Sequoia region of the Sierra Nevada –

Big Meadow Kern

SEQUOIA PARK BIKING

Obvious (but humorous) information on bike riding or mountain biking in Sequoia NP. Upon doing research for this page, noticed a heck of a lotta folks typing in the phrase

Sequoia National Park Bike Trail

I laugh…. but plenty people are searching for bike trails near Sequoia groves, inside the most protected of lands, the National Parks.

NPSFirstly, most National Parks in California do not allow bikes on hiking trails. The Sierra Nevada has NO National Parks that allow mountain biking on their trails. (official words are: Biking is allowed on the main roads in the parks but is prohibited on park trails.)

Yuk. Who wants to ride on asphalt in the wild?

Yosemite & Lake Almanor both have nice paved bike paths. But you may want dirt trails for biking. Be it mellow mountain biking on forest roads, or the hard core Downie-droppers.

California Wilderness Areas are the same rules, but even tighter. So that brings us to Sequoia National Forest. Yes, indeed California National Forests allow mountain bikes on most trails, in most cases. The popular trails might even get small brown signs showing bikes that are allowed.

Second, there are no bike rentals inside Sequoia National Park (or Kings), so you must bring yours in, or better yet ride in. I dare you. Although you cannot take said bike on a dirt trail, so you’ll need to stick to pavement only. The main highway (Hwy 198) has got to be one of the curviest, narrow, fern lined ridge routes of the region. You would be a fool to ride this area, as a senior citizen w/ a 40 foot motorhome or a speeding SUV may take you out on a curve. Seriously! You better be in great shape if you plan to descend into Kings Cyn. That route is just as dangerous if not more so. These 2 National Parks – Sequoia & kings, both get a lotta traffic. Year round.

Thirdly – here is the biggest tip of the whole topic. In between Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks is a slice of Sequoia National Forest land. (Meaning you can ride bikes or mountain bikes here) Most call it Big Meadows Road # 14S11 & there is plenty camping all down this road – 12 miles with spur roads in every direction. A nice chunk of forest with rocks, meadows, camps & dirt roads. Granite & great scenery. What more could you ask for? More forest roads than single track trails tho and please watch for equestrian traffic. The dead end of this road leads out to 2 Wilderness areas, so be prepared to navigate with a good map in hand. No bikes are allowed in the Wilderness, remember?

Maps for biking in the Sequoia –

For Sequoia/Redwood Parks with less people and more open biking trails, try these –

Wanna see some great riders & bikes in action?
California Mountain Bike Races

Bear Meadow
Camp Site at Bear Meadow, Sequoia National Forest  

Stanislaus Campgrounds

Stanislaus Camping / Sonora Pass Camping

dardanelleNFS
NFS Dardanelle Campground along Sonora Pass Highway

camp

Sierra Nevada  Campgrounds inside the Stanislaus National Forest

Hwy 4, Stanislaus National Forest Camping

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Big Meadow Campground 6200′ 30 pines flush piped Hi Sierra; no RV hookups
Bloomfield Campground 7800′ 20 pines vault pump Mokelumne River fishing
Board’s Crossing Camp 3800′ 5 pines vault creek Stanislaus River fishing
Hermit Valley Campground 7100′ 8 pines vault creek June-Oct
Lake Alpine Campground 7300′ 25 pines flush piped June-Oct
Mosquito Lakes Camp 8260′ 8 pines vault lake Sierra river fishing
Pacific Valley Campground 7600′ 9 pines vault no meadow, June-Oct
Sand Flat Campground 5900′ 6 pines vault creek 4WD camp, June-Oct
Silvertip Campground 7300′ 23 pines flush piped June-Oct
Silver Valley Campground 7400′ 21 pines flush piped June-Oct
Stanislaus River Campground 6200′ 25 pines vault pump Sierra river fishing

Hwy 120, Groveland Yosemite Camping

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Lost Claim Campground 3100′ 10 pines vault pump May-Sep
Lumsden Campground 1500′ 11 mixed vault creek Tuolumne River fishing
Lumsden Bridge Camp 1500′ 9 mixed vault creek Tuolumne River fishing
South Fork Campground 1500′ 8 vault creek Tuolumne River fishing

Hwy 108, Sonora Pass Camping Stanislaus

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Crandall OHV Camp 5000′ disp no no May-Oct
Dardanelle RV Park & Cabins 5700′ park pines flush piped 209-965-4355
Boulder Flat Campground 5600′ 20 pines vault piped Stanislaus River
Cascade Creek Campground 6000′ 12 pines vault creek May-Oct
Deadman Campground 6200′ 17 pines vault piped Stanislaus River fishing
Herring Creek Campground 7350′ 7 pines pit creek May-Oct
Mill Creek Campground 6200′ 19 pines vault creek May-Oct
Niagara Creek Campground 6600′ 10 pines vault creek May-Oct
Niagara Creek OHV Camp 6600′ 10 pines vault creek 4×4 camps, May-Oct
Sand Bar Flat Campground 3000′ 10 pines vault piped Stanislaus River fishing
Trout Creek Campground 5400′ disp. chem creek equestrian, May-Oct

GOLD COUNTRY CALIFORNIA Hwy 49

pinetree

see also
Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Calaveras Big Trees

butterfly

nearby towns –

hiker

maps of this Sierra Nevada region –

6N06 – Stanislaus NF

graded road

Forest Rd #6N06 – County Line Road, Fence Creek, Stanislaus National Forest

Central Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
N of Hwy 108; W of Sonora Pass

On the very edge of wilderness
Stanislaus National Forest
County Line Road
Fence Creek Campground (NFS)

Graded dirt road near Clarks Fork junction @ SR 108. Dirt road travels up into forest, hiking trails and meadows; South side of the volcanic Dardanelles @ Tuolumne Co. & Alpine Co. boundary

Carson Iceberg Map

County Line Trailhead
Wheats Meadow Trailhead
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Area
The Dardanelles (9524′ elev)

Clark Fork, Middle Stanislaus River

Topo Maps of this Region:

Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Map USDA
Carson, Emigrant, Mokelumne Map NatGeo
Sierra Nevada Topo Map

hiker

  • backpacker access
  • day hiking
  • horse camping
  • primitive camping
  • trailhead camping

winter road closure, annually
check with local rangers on road access and conditions.

Rd# 6N06, climbs to mountain scenery at upper elevations, well of the main highway. Route is a 2-lane wide road at times, narrower and private towards the end of roads; several dirt roads, overgrown 2 tracks w/ many camp sites to choose from. Dispersed primitive camping requires a camp fire permit.

6N06rd

OHV off-roaders will only find dead ends on dirt route 6N06. NO motorized access in nearby wilderness. Wheelers should try south of Highway 108 @ Niagra Campgrounds; Niagra Off Road #5N01 for all the noise-makers, gear heads, dirt bikes, and toy boxes. Niagra Creek, Niagra OHV, Niagra 4×4.

dirtbikes

nearest towns:

Dardanelle
Pinecrest Lake
Twain Harte

volcano mdws

7N01 – Stanislaus NF

Spicer Meadow Reservoir & more lakes: Paved Forest Rd #7N01

Spicer, Utica & Union Reservoirs, Central Sierra, Stanislaus National Forest

summit lake

Stanislaus National Forest
North Fork of the Stanislaus River
Highland Creek
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Area
Spicer Meadow Reservoir (6418′ elev)
Union Reservoir (6850′ elev)
Utica Reservoir

Spicer Meadow Reservoir can also be found on various publications, listed as Spicer Meadows, Spicer Mdws, Spicer Lake and Spicer Reservoir.

tent camping

Ebbett’s Pass is California State Route (SR 4) Highway 4, which cuts thru the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountains (east-west). Wilderness peaks and rivers surround this whole region. Deep snow pack is common, so much of this region is off-limits half the year (or more). Always check with local rangers by phone before venturing out, as winter conditions can keep these roads closed late into the year.

Topo Maps of this Region:

Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Map USDA
Carson, Emigrant, Mokelumne Map NatGeo
Sierra Nevada Topo Map

Wilderness Maps

N of Arnold, California; Continue up SR 4. Passing Calaveras Big Trees State Park & Camp Connell; After Big Meadow Campground, take the paved right turn for Spicer Meadow; This is forest road 7N01. Meandering thru a forest and descending in elevation, road will dead end at Spicer Reservoir.

7N01, the main paved mountain road, is located on the south side of the highway. The highway turn off reads ‘Spicer Reservoir’. Suitable for travel w/ RVs and trucks with boat trailers. Quite curvy, scenic and about 7 miles long. There are developed campgrounds in the vicinity.

The dirt side roads off the pavement can be narrow, muddy, rocky and overgrown, so be cautious when exploring. Choosing a dispersed camp site should be done during daylight hours, and will require a campfire permit ahead of time. Use an existing camp site whenever possible, instead of creating new ones.

freespice

Several man-made reservoirs attract outdoor seekers, mountain bikers, campers, canoes and fishermen. Kayakers tend to love Union and Utica, but power boats and sail boats prefer Spicer Lake.

hiker

Volcanic features mix with Sierra granite in this part of the forest, and geologic formations make for interesting hikes. Mountain biking is common around these lakes, as well as day hiking and backpacking.

Spicer Lake

NFSlogo

NFS Campgrounds in the region:

  • Stanislaus River Campground
  • Spicer Campground
  • Spicer Group Camp

Campgrounds only open June-September. Some campsites at the campground are wheelchair accessible. Boat ramp located near campgrounds.

camp

outdoor recreation:
backpacking
boating
bouldering
camping
canoeing
fishing
floating
granite
hiking
kayaking
mountain biking
lakes
sailing
swimming
trails
wildflowers

wildflower

Left fork turn off, Dirt Road #7N05 leads out to Utica & Union Reservoirs. Granite rock, alpines lakes w/ forests surrounding. No motorized boats allowed on those two lakes. Very popular among the stand up paddlers (SUP), all kayaks and canoes.

canoeNo developed campgrounds back that way either. No flush toilets, nor paved roads. No flat RV spots; only primitive style camping. These 2 scenic lakes get crowded during summer weekends, so opt for a mid-week stay if possible.

Another dirt road treks steeply up the hill from Union Reservoir to Lake Alpine (at the highway). That primitive truck trail is actually a (somewhat designated, but not well-signed) 4×4 route and suitable for high clearance vehicles only.

car camping lakes

Spur Road #7N29Y is another small dirt road which leads a couple miles into the forest, over to overgrown trailheads and primitive camping options. Ideal for accessing all the lakes (on foot) from this prime location. A camp fire permit is required. No water, no bathrooms, no facilities, no garbage services.

Pack it in, pack it out.

  • Elephant Rock Lake
  • Summit Lake (7068′ elev)

elephant rock

Closest small towns are:

ARNOLD
BEAR VALLEY
LAKE ALPINE, CA

lake camps

7N01 – Los Padres NF
There is another USFS Road in California named 7N01, but that one is a 4×4 OHV access route @ Dutchman Campground, located in South Central California; the southern part of Los Padres National Forest. We have mention of it on the page for Frazier Park Camping.

4x4

Remington Hot Springs

lower kern river
hike-in hot springs

Remington Kern River

Remington Kern River

This place was the alternate choice to Miracle Hot Springs, but since that one is now closed – this is the main attraction out here, along the lower stretch of the Kern River.

USFS Forest Hobo Campground is about a mile away and it may be closed due to landslide repairs. There is also plenty primitive style camping options if you so choose.

Remington is by far, one of the nicest primitive hot tubs in the whole region and easy to access. If you can find it, the rewards are great!! Can be crowded on weekends. If the dirt parking lot is totally full, come back later or wait it out. You can find travelers, mountain bikers, dirt bikers, hikers, backpackers, campers, off-roaders, RVers, burners, desert rats, military boys, local kids, LA couples,  techno DJs from Russia – a wide variety of people soaking at this not-so-secret spot.

These unique hand-crafted stone tubs are located on the Lower Kern, overlooking the big river and the fish. 3 volunteer built cement & river rock hot spring pools sit adjacent to the Kern River. There is also another small cooler tub on the trail perched above the thick brush.

This prime recreation spot is located a few miles west of Hobo Campground (old Miracle Hot Springs) is sometimes busy: dirt parking lot, minimal sign & the tubs are not viewable from the road. From parking area you must hike down a steep grassy trail for about a mile.

Bring towels, beverages & everything you will need from the vehicle, as turning around to go back & get everything half way down will prove to be a challenging trail up. Boulders & oaks on steep hillsides. A few campsites down along main trail. Wildflowers here are wonderful in Spring (April-May). Please pick up litter & keep this place beautiful.

West of Kernville & Lake Isabella, CA
along Kern River in the Lower Kern Canyon Gorge, Southern Sierra Nevada mountainsSequoia Kern Hot Springs

Remington primitive hot springs are located inside the lower Kern Canyon, southwestern part of Sequoia National Forest. Take Highway 178 east to the 4 lane portion, look for Borel Road right turn which climbs a steep hill up to Old Kern Canyon Road. At this stop sign you will see a sign for Remington Trail (3.5 miles) pointing to the right.

NFS

Remington Trailhead (signed) & dirt parking lot across from trail, is located on Old Kern Canyon Rd, which runs parallel to the 4-laner  Hwy. 178 on the opposite side of the Kern River. The well known Kern Canyon Road is also labeled as “Cort 214” on GoogleMaps.

Remington Ridge Trail #32E51 – Mountain bike, hike and horseback trail

Breckenridge Road #28S06, access via Havilah, CA. Breckenridge has pine forest at higher elevation, and is the tallest mountain to the south of Kern River.

lower Kern hikes

clothing optional is the norm

Ardell’s Tip: Remington is one of the few spots in California that you can fish a major river from inside a hot tub.

Best Naked Fishing
click on the photo for more

lodging in nearby townsRiver Path

camp

Minimal camping spots with very little privacy at the main dirt parking lot at Remington Hot Springs. The best tent camping is located down on the trails, so you may choose to hike-in to the secluded oaks to the sandy beach camps below. No facilities at Remington, no tables, no toilets, no electricity, so come very prepared to “rough it”.

Primitive Camping in California

USFS Sandy Flat Campground and Hobo Campground are a few miles away (to the east), on the same Kern Cyn Road; Breckenridge Campground is on a tall pine forested ridge just to the south, but requires a long drive around the mountain, or a super rugged 4WD vehicle for a steep dirt road.

Folks seeking more seclusion can choose to primitive camp along the narrow paved road leading to the west. Motorhome campers like the option of road side boondocking with great views; several level pullouts can accommodate most any camper. 4×4 camping is closer to Lake Isabella @ Keyesville or BLM River Camping. Primitive camp spots on numerous dirt roads are located in this Lower Kern River area, but you will need to check with Sequoia National Forest ranger for gate closures, fire permit & fire current restrictions.


View Remington Hot Springs in a larger map

Dirt Cheap Camping

Rustic Camping California

Budget Outdoor Adventures

Campfire Nights

Camping is so inexpensive for the sheer entertainment factor. Reconnecting with nature can be so rewarding and good for your health. Sleeping outside doesn’t need to cost anything really. Stargazing, campfires, and listening to the wildlife are all still free.

Outdoor Gear – these purchases will be the most expensive part of your trip, but you’ll be able to use this same gear for decades of travel exploring the outdoors.

Coyote Canyon

A whole weekend for under $100, seriously?

camping expense chart below for approximate cost per person for 2-day weekend

gasoline $50 depending on destination & your gas mileage
firewood $10 cheaper when bought in larger quantities
(bring hand saw for free wood in forest)
campgrounds $20 find cheap BLM campground, or hit up the primitive camp areas
to avoid all campground cost
food $20 can’t count this expense
(you would eat groceries at home anyway)

Free Firewood

Camping Free

Year Round Camping

Year Round Adventures

CampingCalifornia is an outdoor recreation paradise, with near perfect weather, diverse terrain and breathtaking scenery around every corner. Many folks gravitate to the west coast specifically to be outdoors more.

Soaking in the sunshine, every day, every week. Reconnecting with nature and choosing to live a more healthy lifestyle, eat well and learning to relax often. Camping can be a real vacation – without the high cost of travel.

Summer isn’t the only time to go camping in California

Avoid crowds
Try getting out there before Memorial Day or after Labor Day!

Desert camping is popular during winter months, while mountain destinations are preferred in summer. Find a secluded small campground or even try roughing it w/ primitive car camping. Motorhome campers who like to boondock, will enjoy the extensive back roads section of Total Escape. If you own a 4WD vehicle, you can reach the most secluded 4×4 camps, lookout towers and some historic cabins.

season description recommended
Summer hot in deserts & country foothills,
smoggy in cities; coastlines can be foggy
mountains & coast
Autumn great camping all around,
early winter storms in mountains
coast, deserts, country
Winter snow in mountains & very cold,
windy on coast as seasonal storms move in
deserts (possibly)
Spring snow melt in mountains may be late,
storms can last into late springtime
deserts & country

Picnic Tables

annual timelines to consider

  • summer – busiest time for traffic and travel; many travelers, families, tourists; National Parks and coastal towns are  crowded; hottest in desert areas, cities and in the mountain oak foothills
  • autumn – meteor showers, fall colors, fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking; fire restrictions higher, firewood collecting, less families out and about, cuz kids are back in school
  • winter – prime time for desert camping, off roading, ghost towns, museums and meteor showers; coldest months w/ winter storms; snow is possible down to 1000′ elevation
  • spring – wildflowers, birdwatching, rainy season, lakes, rivers, creeks flowing well; rafting & kayaking; snow storms tapering off w/ snowmobiling in mountains; snow camping

SEASONAL RATINGS on LOCAL TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

perfect okay iffy no way
Coastal Desert Country Mountain City
winter winter winter winter winter
spring spring spring spring spring
summer summer summer summer summer
autumn autumn autumn autumn autumn

watermelon snacks

New Bullards Bar Reservoir

Bullards Bar California

Bullards Bar Boat-in Camps

BULLARDS BAR Dark Day is a lakeside walk-in campground on a small reservoir, located deep in the Gold Country foothills. Flush toilets and hiking trails, kayak rentals and fishing.

West of Highway 49. Huge dam for hydro-electric power. Minimal roadways along the lake and steep canyons make for optimum hiking and boating. Floating and fishing. Relaxing in the mountains, with fresh water!

On most maps the official name of this lake may read New Bullards Bar Reservoir, or Lake Bullards Bar, but locals just call it simply – Bullards Bar!

Sierra Nevada Foothills. Yuba River, California.

Northern Gold Country, California

Near Camptonville, West off Hwy 49
in between Oroville and Nevada City, CA

Located not far from historic Downieville, Bullard’s Bar is an excellent base camp location for exploring the upper reaches of the Gold Country region. Old mining locations, museums, a covered bridge, various parks, Yuba River, Sierra Buttes, Lakes Basin. Grass Valley & Nevada City are also nearby. Mountain bike trails, river rafting and hiking all around.

New Bullards Bar

lake surface area: 969,600 acrespaddle sports

lake elevation: 2000′ above sea level

lake county: Yuba County California

roads around lake: Marysville Road (south of lake and east side w/ Hwy 49), Moonshine Road (south of lake), Oregon Hill Road (west side), Pendola Road (north side), and Forest Route #47 (dirt road on north side)

nearest towns:

Bullards Bar
Shade @ the marina, just when you needed it most

Yuba River Recreation

camping

Lake water can be beautiful TEAL colored (greenish blue) – due to heavy minerals in the local red dirt soil and dense forest above. This water comes down from Lakes Basin Recreation Area, the Sierra Buttes, and the Yuba Pass on Hwy 49. Northern Gold Country, California.

Bullards Bar Lake – Emerald Cove Marina
New Bullards Bar Reservoir
877-692-3201

boating boating gasoline marina

New Bullards Bar Reservoir

boat in camping

One of the few lakes in the Sierra Nevada that offer boat in camping at developed camp sites, and also to allow boaters primitive camping along the shoreline. No drinking water is available. No pit toilets, so a portable chemical toilet is always required. Plus, pack out all garbage.

No charge for DAY USE areas: parking or boat launch ramps

NOTE: Dark Day & Schoolhouse Campgrounds are the only car camping & RV accessible camping on this lake. These both have flush toilets and drinking water piped in. Hiking trails & boat launch nearby. Wheelchair accessible campsites are available.

CAMPS OPEN: APRIL – OCTOBER
Campgrounds @ BullardsBar are usually open from April to October annually and all are closed for winter months.

camping walkin camps hiking camping boating camping RV camping mountains

Bullards Bar Campgrounds

camp information 530-692-3200

  • GardenPoint: 17 boat-in sites
  • Madrone Cove: 10 boat-in sites
  • Shoreline Camp: 2 boat-in sites
  • Dark Day Walk-In Camp: 30 sites
  • Schoolhouse Campground: 56 sites
  • Hornswoggle Group Camp

Frenchy Point Campground USDA

Located 5 miles northwest of Dark Day Boat Ramp on the west side of the reservoir. Boat in only access. It is used as an over flow campground. There are campsites, but no bathrooms. Portable chemical toilet required. More info call Emerald Cove Marina at (530) 692-3200

National ForestsBullards Bar Lake located on the Yuba River, bordering
between Tahoe National Forest & 
Plumas National Forest

 

bullards bar California

lake recreation 

  • boat in camps
  • canoe
  • fish
  • houseboat rentals
  • kayak
  • picnic sites
  • sail
  • watercraft rentals

land recreation

  • backpack
  • campgrounds
  • hike
  • mountain bike
  • walk-in camps

bikingbullardsdam

also in the area


View Larger Map

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Bullards_Bar_Reservoir
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Bullards_Bar_Dam

Boat Parade of Lights

tree boat parade

Parade of Lights
Holiday Boat Parade

Christmas Boat Parades in California

 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA:

San Diego Parade of Lights
San Diego Bay
San Diego, CA
619-224-2240
www.sdparadeoflights.org

OceansideParade of Lights
Oceanside CA
Oceanside Yacht Club
www.oceansideyc.net/event-calendar/

Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights
Dana Point, CA
949-923-2255
www.danapointharbor.com

Cruise of Lights Boat Parade
Huntington Beach, CA
www.cruiseoflights.org

Christmas Boat Parade & Fireworks
Newport Beach, CA
100 years running!
www.christmasboatparade.com

sailing xmas tree

Naples Christmas Boat Parade
Belmont Shores @ Naples Canals
South Long Beach, CA
www.naplesca.com

Long Beach Parade of 1000 Lights
Downtown Shoreline Marina
Shoreline Yacht Club
Long Beach, CA
www.shorelineyachtclub.com/event

LA Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade
Long Beach Area
San Pedro, CA
310-549-8111
www.portoflosangeles.org/community/calendar

Redondo Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Redondo Beach King Harbor @ Los Angeles
Redondo Beach, CA
King Harbor Yacht Club
310-376-2459
www.khyc.org

Marina Del Rey Holiday Boat Parade
West Los Angeles California
Marina del Rey, CA
www.mdrboatparade.org

Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade
West Los Angeles
Venice Beach, CA
310-809-8100
www.venicechristmasboatparade.com

Oxnard Parade of Lights
Marine Emporium Landing
Oxnard, CA
805-985-5828
www.marineemporiumlanding.com

Ventura Parade of Lights Boat Parade & Fireworks
Ventura Harbor Village
Ventura, CA
805-477-0470
www.venturaharborvillage.com

Santa Barbara Parade of Lights
Santa Barbara, CA
805-963-0611
www.santabarbaraca.gov

 

pine

 

CENTRAL COAST CALIFORNIA:

Morro Bay Christmas Boat Parade
Morro Bay Embarcadero
Morro Bay, CA
805-772-4467
www.morrobay.org/events2/holiday-happenings

 

botaparade

 

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA:

Bethel Island Lighted Boat Parade
San Joaquin Boat Parade @ the California Delta
Bethel Island, CA
San Joaquin Yacht Club
925-684-9985
www.sjyc.org

Fisherman’s Wharf Lights & Sights Boat Parade
Pier 39, Aquatic Park
San Francisco, CA
415-673-3530
www.visitfishermanswharf.com

Oakland Lighted Yacht Parade
Alemeda Estuary
Oakland, CA
925-413-3845
www.lightedyachtparade.com

Petaluma Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
Petaluma River Turning Basin
Petaluma, CA
707-769-0429
www.visitpetaluma.com

Santa Cruz Harbor Boat Parade
Santa Cruz Harbor
Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz Yacht Club
831-425-0690
www.scyc.org

Sausalito Lighted Yacht Parade
Sausalito Yacht Club
Sausalito, CA
415.332-7400
www.sausalitoyachtclub.org

Delta Reflections Lighted Boat Parade
McCloud Lake @ Downtown Waterfront
Stockton, CA
Marine West Yacht Club
209-477-7653
www.mwyc.org

Your Public Lands

west coast public land

Access to wild land, open spaces, parks, forests, lakes, mountain peaks, public land – USDA National Forests, National Parks, State Parks, BLM. There is more public land available in the west half of the U.S., than anywhere else in the nation. This is one of the top reasons people relocate to the West Coast.

California’s Public Lands for Recreation

Federal lands, government managed parks, USDA National Forests, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuge, BLM, State Parks, State Forests, County Parks, Regional Open Spaces

Sierra Rivers

State Park / National Park / National Forest / BLM / SHP / SVRA / OHV
what’s the difference?
a simple explanation of your public lands & what you can expect to do on them

National Forest Campground
NPS

California National Parks – most National Parks are so crowded you can’t even enjoy the experience in the summer time. Try the off-season times for your best stay. Neighboring National Forests are a much better bet for abundant space, privacy & less taxing on the wallet for fees. These popular (NPS) parks are subject to federal budget cuts and closures.

NF boundary

NFS

California National Forests – protected wilderness areas throughout state are surrounded by National Forests (NFS), and most National Parks (NPS) are surrounded by National Forests. Tons of small campgrounds & primitive spots for real seclusion. Get a free fire permit & camp almost anywhere you want. Use that SUV exploring the many dirt backroads & find that perfect camp spot (for free).

California State Parks

California State Parks – local California parks with a lot to offer the day hikers, picnicking family, tent camper or RV camper. From warm dry deserts soaking in a hot springs to the foggy coastal redwoods, these state run parks encompass a large section of California terrain. These parks are subject to state budget cuts and closures.

BLMBLM: Bureau of Land Management – mostly desert regions on the east side of California. A few coastal redwoods, some river canyons in the Sierra Nevada, many off road areas (OHV) in various mountain ranges. These federal lands are open spaces, generally a free for all on recreation.  Allowable = off roading, target shooting, open camping, campfires, bonfires. Geared toward OHV use, RVs and hunting.

Fire Safe Spot

All California Parks & Forests

hikes

California Lakes List

lake

California Topo Maps

topo maps

rangers

California Terrain & Destinations

  • Coastal California – Southern California beach camping is crowded & sparse, because of developed cities. Central Coast & Northern California offer many more choices in this category.
  • California Mountains – pine forest, mixed oaks & a variety of vegetation. Water sources such as lakes, stream & waterfalls make this choice the perfect camping spots. Granite peaks, high elevations wilderness areas throughout state & surrounded National Parks. Plenty backpacking options & dirt road primitive spots for the ultimate in privacy.
  • Countryside in California – coastal hills or mountain foothills. These rolling hillsides offer small creeks, oak trees & plenty of wide open spaces. Lakes & Reservoirs are located within these regions. Most campgrounds are fairly close driving distance to towns or cities. Wine country or gold country, California has it.
  • California Deserts – perfect for every season except summer, these vast spaces will humble just about anyone. Primitive camping galore & designated areas for real off-roading.
  • City CA / Urban Villages – not the best for really getting away from crowds, but can be an excellent opportunity to visit a city without spending big bucks on lodging. Or could just be a perfect one-nighter for getting familiar with camping. Most campsites are located in the foothill area behind suburbs, in county parks or even coastal.
  • California A to Z: Small Towns – 700 and counting; extensive list of destinations, focusing primarily on the back roads and outdoor recreation hubs
  • California by County – Find every county on Cali, and which towns are located inside of them

Yosemite Lake View Camp Sites

Salmon River California


salmon river
Photo Credit Erik Meldrum

Salmon River
Forks of the Salmon

NORTHERN CALIF

One of the most remote & biologically intact watersheds left inside California. The headwaters of the Salmon River flow from the Trinity Alps, Marble Mountains, and the Russian Wilderness Areas. 850,000 acres of Wilderness surrounding the Salmon River watershed.

You gotta know how to read a map if you wanna find this hidden gem. For those who love seclusion! This NorCal river region is a prime destination for true nature lovers: campers, hikers, fishermen, river rafters, river kayakers, mountain bikers, backpackers, birdwatchers and horse enthusiasts. Summer is the busiest time and of course, the best weather. The remainder of the year, you’ll basically have the place all to yourself. Winters can be wet and sloppy, so don’t get stuck in the mud. Cell phone reception is minimal in these densely forested backwoods.

Rafting, river beaches, kayak spots. Campground camping, RV camping, tent camping, primitive and wilderness too.

A significant part of the Klamath River’s watershed is in the Karuk Tribe’s Ancestral Territory. Karuk Indians have carefully managed their lands through an integrated continuum with the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem functions for thousands of years. Salmon, or “Ama” in the Karuk language, was a major source of food and spiritual renewal.

Forests & Parks along Salmon River:

Creekside Camping

California Creek Camping

California Camping CreeksClear cool stream waters flow from snow melt at 10,000′ elevation, down to these pristine camps at under 4000′ on both sides of the Sierra. The further you drive up the mountain, the better it gets. Where the Eastern Sierra side tends to be more dramatic desert like with sage brush, the western range is much more lush with ferns & dense trees.

Everyone dreams of it. The perfect camp, along the creek. Maybe a waterfall or two, a shady hammock spot & plenty of trees, a flat tent spot, maybe a view. A big, sturdy, rock fire ring (without a bunch of broken glass in it).

This dreamy camp isn’t only in your imagination, nor is it at the local county campground a few miles from home. This kinda beauty & rare finds are out there, deep in the back woods, the mountains. You gotta know where to look & what to bring in order to have a good, easy, relaxing time.

These secluded sites really are around in your favorite forest, way back there. Best of all, they are free.

forest mapsHaving the opportunity to camp in your very own private, secluded spot, along dirt roads, outside of the annoying rules and fees of a developed campground is a privilege. Use these lands wisely and be a responsible camper. Camp eco-wise! Respecting the land, knowing some basics and following fire safety precautions is all mandatory. A topographic hiking map or a National Forest map is optional, but highly recommended.

Creekside Camping CaliforniaCreek water can make an easy refrigerator if the cooler is full. Chill that bottle of wine, keep the watermelon cool .. just don’t forget about it. (cuz that kinda litter maybe a welcomed good surprise for the next camper.) Secure your wet creek valuables. Even a heavy watermelon can float! Put some rocks around items or tye them in a mesh bag, with rope, something to keep them from getting away in the swift water.

There is nothing that beats a good detailed forest map of where you are going. If you are the type of person who can never make a straight B-line for home on Sunday afternoon, and find yourself wandering just for the sake of wandering – then it’s best to have a larger state wide map like this beauty from Benchmark Maps.

California Creekside Camp Sites

Small Campgrounds on a Creek

Primitive Style – Dispersed Camping secluded camp sites

If you are the kinda sport who can really rough it, you may learn to love it. After your first real back woods camping experience, the privacy, serenity and beauty of the land will inspire and relax you so much, that the drawback on the lack of toilet won’t bother you.

Make a new hobby of learning how to stay away from the crowds. The less cars you see at camp, the better. Learn to be immersed within nature and enjoy your space outside. Unwind, next to the creek in the shade, with a chair and read for hours, or bring the sketchbook, or just daydream as butterflies go floating by.

  • Remember to be camp clean, California is black bear country.
  • You’ll need a free camp fire permit; pick up at the local rangers station.
  • Classic camp potty info.  Proper disposal of human waste is important.
  • Use biodegradable soaps when outside.

Streamside Camping Basics

what you need:

capable vehicle – SUV or Truck, high clearance is best. 4×4 is NOT required. AWD wagons should be more cautious when venturing out on the back roads. 2WD is fine for most graded dirt roads, but way out exploring dirt roads, deep mud and snow is quite possible.

destination – Pick a locale. A general area you wanna check out. Not a quickie overnight deal, but an enjoyable lazy multi-day camping trip.

exploration – Narrow down a canyon or river that you have always wanted to explore. The Sierra Nevada & NorCal is the place to concentrate your efforts, as SoCal is near desert climate w/ way too much development.

more maps please – National Forest map or similar backroads Map/Atlas. Large topo maps may be too detailed, but will do okay for finding dirt roads (& backpacker trailheads also).

The more homework you do before hand, the better chances of finding that secret camp spot, especially on holiday weekends. Go ahead & call the forest rangers. Have your decent topo maps handy, along with pen and paper. That’s what they are there for. Have a list of questions on specific areas you want more info on. If you do the prep work well in advance, it makes a more enjoyable camp trip. Cuz you’ll be less worried about finding the ultimate places (before dark, or before the other guy does). With your new profound Wilderness Vision, you will have not only a plan B ready, but a plan C as well.

what to look for:

getting permits – If you really wanna camp like this, all secluded on the dirt back roads without the hordes of other campers nearby…. you’ll need a capable vehicle, a camp fire permit & the understanding of the concept “totally self sufficient campers”. This means bringing your own water, a bucket, a shovel, maybe some firewood, plus packing out all your own garbage, plus any litter left over by the last campers. It’s the least you can do, not having to make reservations. Visit the FireSafe page

it’s on your map – After you have a general area narrowed down, some place you always wanted to go, then it’s time to get your maps out & start reading them. Or at least staring at them – maybe over a meal, whenever you have free time to study it. Look for dirt roads, the further off the paved roads is not necessarily the better. Some of the best camp sites are within a few short miles from the pavement, so get them maps out & start visualizing.

gas up – Make sure you fuel your vehicle before you head into remote areas (like the ones we are mentioning). Maybe even an extra can of gasoline too, just in case.

the blue lines – You’ll know a decent road when you see it. When you start planning at home, you need to concentrate of what dirt roads are along what water sources. And will these streams be flowing at this time of year? Many are seasonal creeks & can dry up in summer. The most likely place to find great water flow is to look for the streams flowing directly into a major river or Lake/ Reservoir.

Are you willing to clean up your camp, before & after, leaving it pristine?
Yes indeed, it is free to camp outside of developed campgrounds.

Finding a Creek & Reading a Map

Chuchupate Campground

Lockwood Valley Campgrounds: Chuchupate

Los Padres National Forest, Mount Pinos Ranger District

chuchupate
Forested campground, paved access; Up behind the Lockwood ranger station
campground  elev.
spots
 veg toilet water comment
Chuchupate 6300′ 29 pines vault no open year round

open year round; campground reservations 805-434-1996

Chuchupate Views

Pinyon w/ jeffrey pines, a high desert feel to this mountain side ideal camp – where the Mojave desert merges with the coastal ranges in Lockwood. Up high near the Tejon Pass @ Gorman. Sage brush slopes w/ forested campground is approx. 6 mi. off Lockwood Valley Rd. via paved road #8N04 (also called, Frazier Mountain  Road).

Adequate for RVs, small creeks around this camp provide
decent vegetation. The sites on the outside back loop are best
for shade & seclusion. Good for a base camp for the weekend
& drive out to see the rest of Los Padres National Forest.
For the mtn. biker, this is a prime spot for hitting up the dirt
back roads on Frazier Mtn. Plenty of hiking and nice views
of the valley around too.

chuchu 21
Small campground w/ fee. On forested slopes of Frazier Mountain.

The easy to reach USFS campground can accommodate motorhomes, RVs, camper trailers up to 26 feet long. Paved access road is narrow and curvy and climbs the hill behind the large ranger station on Lockwood Valley Road.

Mt. Pinos Ranger District
34580 Lockwood Valley Rd
Frazier Park, CA
661-245-3731

  • backpack

  • camp

  • hike

  • horseback

  • mountain bike

  • off-road

  • picnic

  • stargaze

8N01
Paved road #8N04 FRAZIER MTN RD – starts @ Lockwood Valley ranger station

also nearby –

lockwood valley snow
Attention fair weather campers: Snow is possible in this location from DEC-APRIL. Call head for local conditions and know weather forecast before you climb the I-5 (Grapevine).

Cherry Creek

tecuya4x4camps
Tecuya Mountain 4x4camps, Los Padres National Forest

4×4 Camps @ Tecuya:
Cherry Creek Camp

Seeking a dark shady hole to spend the night? Then Cherry Creek canyon is choice for a quick overnighter near Frazier Park and the I-5 Tejon Pass. Steep dirt road access will challenge even the biggest skeptic.

  • free campsite
  • 4WD only access

The 4×4 Camp (signed) turn off is along Cuddy Valley Road, on the north side of the pavement – just a few miles west of Frazier Park, inside Los Padres National Forest.

Oak trees and brush clog the dense hillsides. Owls live in this canyon. Deer and wildlife sightings are common – which makes this an ideal hunters camp for those looking to explore on foot.

The canyon gets narrower as it heads down hill (northward) w/ the single track route becoming a blanket of slick dark mud (in the wet months). Without trees on the worst section, making a self-rescue impossible.4x4

Real 4 wheel drive is needed for this camp! All wheel drive vehciles (SUV & sportwagons) should not attempt this location without a tow strap or winch – AND another 4WD vehicle to help out. Yep, seriously. We know, because we had to rescue someone last time we were here.

Camp Hole
Sparse accommodations w/ minimal sunlight reaching this steep canyon
gilbert trooper
High clearance and articulation is a must.

Other 4×4 camps on this ridge include –

  • Pleito Creek

  • Salt Creek

fog is common in winter
Fog is common on this mountain range

Nearby areas include –

towns nearby –

finished
Afterwards, sun burns off fog, right at Cuddy Valley Rd