Category Archives: Trailheads

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

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  

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

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

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

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

Frazier Park Camping

Mount Pinos Camping & Frazier Park Campgrounds

Hiking Pinos Signs
Frazier Park and neighboring towns, like freeway-close Lebec and Gorman, is where the Los Angeles hills meet the Kern County mountains. Mojave Desert meets to Coastal Range. EXIT I-5 @ Tejon Pass (elev 4144′)

Wildflower hills, seasonal creeks, forested peaks, high desert canyons. Bike trails, hike trails, off road routes. High elevation backpacking, hang gliding, mountain biking and camping in every direction.

MTB SOCAL
Mountain Bikers love the trails at Mount Pinos.

High desert washes, oak creeks, pinyon pine forests, mountain meadows and numerous peaks – Frazier Peak, Reyes Peak, Alamo Mountain, Mount Pinos, Mount Abel (Cerro Noroeste) and north facing San Emigdio ridge.

Mt. Pinos District:

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Aliso Park, Cuyama 3200′ 11 oak pit no Aliso Cyn Rd. (#10N04)
Ballinger OHV Camp 3000′ 20 pinyon vault no Rd# 9N10, Cuyama Valley
Camp-O Alto 8286′ 12 jefferey pit no ridge, Cerro Noroeste
Caballo Campground 5850′ 5 oaks pit no Rd# 9N27, Cerro Noroeste
Cherry Creek 4×4 5200′ 2 oak no spring 4WD trail, Cuddy Valley
Chuchapate Campground 6000′ 30 pines vault piped Rd# 8N04, closed winter
Chula Vista Walk-In Camp 8300′ 12 pines vault no walk-in camps & RV lot
Cottonwood Campground 4600′ 2 ctnwd no creek 4WD only trail, fish
Dome Springs Camp 4800′ 4 oak pit no Rd# 8N40, Lockwood
Dutchman Camp 6800′ 8 pines no no Rd# 7N01, 4WD trails
Half Moon Campground 4700′ 10 pines pit no Rd #7N03, May-Oct
Kings Campground 4250′ 7 pinyon vault no OHV & Piru Creek
Marian Campground 6600′ 5 pine pit no closed in winter
McGill Campground 7500′ 50+ pine vault seasonal mountain biking
Mount Pinos Campground 7800′ 19 pine vault seasonal closed winter
Nettle Springs Camp 4400′ 9 pinyon vault no Rd# 8N06, Apache Cyn
Ozena Campground 3660′ 12 cottnwd vault no Lockwood Rd
Pine Springs Camp 5800′ 12 pinyon pit no Road #7N03
Pleito Campsite 5000′ 2 mixed no no dirt rd access, dispersed
Rancho Nuevo 3550′ 2 mixed no no river crossing
Reyes Creek 4000′ 30 oaks vault yes creek camping
Reyes Peak Pine Mt 5200′ 6 pines none no ridge camping
Salt Creek 4×4 3000′ 2 mixed no no 4WD only
Sunset Campground 4300′ 2 cottonwd no no Lockwood / Piru Creek
Thorn Meadows 5000′ 5 pine pit no Rd# 7N03C, horse corral
Tinta Campground 3600′ 3 pinyon pit no river crossing
Toad Springs Camp 5700′ 5 pinyon pit no Rd# 9N09, Quatal Cyn
Twin Pines Camp 6600′ 5 pine vault no Dry weather only
Valle Vista Camp 4800′ 7 mixed pit no condors, new toilet

See Mount Pinos Recreation Campgrounds only

Group Camping Sites in Los Padres Forest

Maps of Los Padres NF –nettle spring camp

Los Padres mountain towns –

DSCN0043

Toad Springs Campground atop Quatal Canyon. Small camps located in Los Padres NF have no fees, and often no toilets – so bring the shovel.

Many dirt roads are gated seasonally for wet weather or snow. Call rangers to find out which routes are open before you plan your weekend. Or have a plan B and C camp site ready if route is closed. Flashfloods, thunderstorms, and erosion means you may all-of-a-sudden need to use your 4WD. This is the mountains after all. UNpredictable weather is common.

frazier park camping

Primitive Camping in Quatal Wash, next to the OHV Route and the Chumash Wilderness

PeaktoPeak
Peak-to-Peak Hike: the toughest climb you’ll do, this decade.


Snag Lake California

Snag Lake California

 

Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Snag Lake

A free lake camp in between Truckee & Quincy, CA

This is one of many small lakes situated within the Lakes Basin Recreation Area , in the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains. Just north of Downieville & Historic Gold Country. Snag Lake is nothing special compared to the rest of the scenic lakes close by, but it is worth a mention due to a few fun facts.

Sierra Nevada Lake

One thing this small lake campground does have is convenience, located right on the Gold Lake Highway – next to Goose Lake, plus hiking distance to the largest of the lakes, Gold Lake. The second feature is the campground is small, 16 primitive sites, picnic tables & one vault toilet. The third thing is that this is a FREE campground; no charge.

campsite snag lake

Snag Lake Campground

• Elevation: 6600′
• Number of Sites: 16
• Vehicle Accessibility: Small RVs
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: No
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: June – October
• Trailheads: Gold Lake

Boulder Hopping

dirt drive (no pavement)

No motorized boats allowed. No paved boat ramps. Kayaks & canoes can hand launch from several spots. The dirt driveway is easily missed, especially at night. The old wooden, forest service sign is not reflective. The vault toilet is close to the highway and the camp sites are along the lake edge. No pavement anywhere!

Upon arrival, camper trailers will want to get out and select the best route to a camp site. The small boulders, dead trees, root and rock obstacles are abundant on the dirt road entry, all around the campground, and at each camp site. High clearance vehicles would fair best at this camp, but some passenger cars may be able to manage the rocky entrance. Get out and look at the road, before scraping across the biggest rock. Slowly, carefully, maybe… and preferably an arrival before dark.

LOCALS TIP: The wind tends to pick up at night around these lakes, so brace your tent well and position your vehicle appropriately.

NFS lake camping lake fishin hiking lakes lakes

fishing lake?

rainbow trout

Obviously with a name like SNAG, you can imagine that the fishing here is not the best, since roots and old tree stumps make up a good portion of the shoreline. Luckily there are a dozen alpine lakes within a 20 mile radius to choose from for another fishing spot. Some lakes are hike-in only, some require 4×4 to reach and others have cabin resorts.

towns nearby –

sierra snow

SEASONAL SNOW CLOSURES

snowmobile
Gold Lake Hwy (or Gold Lake Road) closes in the winter months (NOV-APRIL) due to snow and the region is used as a winter recreation area. Cross-country skiing and snow-mobiling are both popular activities.

driftwood

Lassen – Snag Lake

ANOTHER SNAG LAKE in NorCal, can be found by foot, hiking into the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness. Backpacking the lake loop is approx 17 miles RT and includes 3 lakes – Snag Lake, Widow Lake, and Jakey Lake. Trailhead is located at Juniper Lake, at the north shore.

read more about this hike

hiker

SIERRA LAKES

4×4 lakes
backpacking lake
camping lakes
canoeing lake
fishing lakes
hiking lake
kayaking lakes
waterfalls

California Aspens

AspenGroves

Aspen Groves are easy to recognize with their thick stands. White trunks with dark knots, slender, with oval shaped leaves. Growing in a network of roots, which are found lining creeks, alpine lakes, or spilling out from higher elevations, along  scenic canyons.

The unique round leaves which can turn spectacular colors in the fall season. The fluttering and flapping of the oval-shaped, thick, green leaf is a sure sign of summer. When breezes get cooler, Autumn is only a few weeks away and as quick as the cold comes in, what a short and special show they put on.

California Fall Colors

aspensplit

Aspen trees can be found at higher mountain elevations in California, usually above 4000′ – all the way up to about 10,000′ or higher, depending on the mountain range and local water flows. Groves have an extensive root systems underground, so they often withstand wildfires and can come back after the rest of the forest is gone.

Beavers build dams in creeks around aspen trees, fishermen and campers love to camp next to aspens, and lovers carve their initials into their white bark. These trees do indeed take a beating, from all angles, winter weather included… so stop from cutting them!

carvings

fishing creeks mountain biking stargaze Picnic Camp Hiking horseback back roads mountains

  • BIKE
  • CAMP
  • FISH
  • HIKE
  • KAYAK
  • PICNIC

summer and autumn

These deciduous trees are naked half the year, typically from November to April, as winter buries them in snow and ice. Time is of the essence, limited to Summer and Autumn – to enjoy their shade and the beauty of the groves. Scenic meadows and fishing creeks are just an added bonus for searching out the aspen.

Aspens can be found in hidden canyons, primarily along the Eastern Sierra US Hwy 395 and surrounding mountain lakes. Some Sierra Passes have decent displays of color as well – like Carson Pass Hwy 88 and Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Hwy 120.

Below is a list of Total Escape’s favorite aspen areas of California

ASPENDELL
BAKER CREEK (4×4)
BIG PINE CANYON – NORTH FORK TRAIL

BISHOP CREEK
BLUE LAKES, CARSON PASS
BLUE LAKE, MODOC

CONVICT LAKE, US 395
COTTONWOOD CREEK @ ANCIENT BRISTLECONES
COYOTE FLAT (4×4)

CROCKER @ LAKE DAVIS
CROWLEY LAKE, US 395

DUNDERBERG MEADOW

EAGLE LAKE @ ASPEN CAMP

GREEN CREEK ROAD, US 395
HASKINS VALLEY @ BUCKS LAKE
HILTON CREEK, US 395
HOPE VALLEY
JUNE LAKE LOOP

LAKE SABRINA
LAKE TAHOE
LAUREL LAKES ROAD, US 395
LEE VINING CANYON
LUNDY LAKE, US 395

MAMMOTH LAKES, US 395

MCCLOUD CREEK @ ALGOMA
MCGEE CREEK, US 395

MODOC NF @ BLUE LAKE
NORTH LAKE, ASPENDELL @ BISHOP

ONION VALLEY @ INDEPENDENCE
PARKER LAKE RD @ JUNE LAKE LOOP
PINE CREEK ROAD, BISHOP

QUAKING ASPEN CAMP, GIANT SEQUOIA

RED’S MEADOW, MAMMOTH
ROCK CREEK ROAD @ US HWY 395

TOM’S PLACE, US 395
TWIN LAKES @ BRIDGEPORT
VIRGINIA LAKES, US 395

WISHON RESERVOIR

aspentips
Aspen Tips @ Eagle Lake California

 

aspenwall
Green Creek Camping

Autumn Camping in California

 

amigoaspens
Laurel Lake Road @ 9000′ – Eastern Sierra, California

Silver Lake @ June

June Lake Loop

Silver Lake @ June Lake Loop

(Mono Co)

7700′ elev. Hwy 158, Backside of June Lake Loop, north of Mammoth.

Prime hiking and fishing destination of the Eastern Sierra, California. With impressive Carson Peak (10,909′) towering as a granite backdrop for the lake, every day out here is super scenic. Unless, of course, blizzard white-out conditions occur – which is possible during winter.

fishOctober-November, Autumn colors – at this particular location – tend to be fantastic, with aspen groves encompassing the lake, nearby streams and steep canyons.

fish: Reverse Creek, Rush Creek, Silver Lake, Grant Lake, Gem Lake, Gull Lake, June Lake

golden glow june

Winter weather & deep snow can close the paved highway loop, so know road conditions and weather forecast before you go. This beautiful Silver Lake is within walking distance of two lodges – Whispering Pines & Double Eagle Resort, so if rain or snow is predicted make your reservations.

  • aspen groves
  • autumn colors
  • backpacking
  • camping
  • canoeing
  • fishing lake
  • hiking trails
  • horseback trails
  • kayaking
  • mountaineering
  • picnic grounds
  • RV camp

Rental Boats

Ansel Adams Wildernesshiker
Inyo National Forest
June Lake, CA

This gorgeous, 80 acre alpine lake is a popular campground for fishing, picnicking, hiking, summer and autumn camping. Accommodates tent camping and RVs. Boat ramp, grocery store, coin-op laundry – all nearby. Camp closes for snow annually.

Silver Lake Campground NFS campground

• Elevation: 7600′
• Number of Sites: 28
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 20′
• Campsites Reservation: Yes
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Toilets: Flush
• Water: Piped/Potable
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: April – October

NFS
Inyo National Forest
Mono Lake Ranger Station
North US Hwy 395
Lee Vining, CA 93541
760-647-3044

lets go fishing

stars

See all Silver Lakes in California

Mammoth Fishing



Stark Weather Lake

Originally uploaded by danamight

Mammoth Mountain Lakes / Eastern Sierra Fishing

Sure splendor for fishing, most of the time. Lake fishing, stream fishing, river fishing. Fishing the Eastern Sierra area, near Mammoth Lakes, California can be very rewarding. You may have read about places like these in the sports magazines, seen them on a television program, or imagined them in a fishing vacation day dream. Summers can be crowded, so pick a lake and camp carefully. Weather can change quickly, so come prepared. Autumn fishing w/ the golden aspens and less crowds is preferred.

fishing trip

Most of these Eastern Sierra lakes listed below are accessible by car, others by foot. Look at the photos, pick a destination and get a good map of the area, so you can explore everything around too.

Mammoth Lakes Area

Mammoth Area Lakes – Mammoth City

Mammoth Area Creeks –

Mammoth Area Rivers –

  • Owens River (high desert valley)
  • San Joaquin River (high country)

junelake

June Lake Loop
Eastern Sierra, US 395 @ Hwy 158

June Area Lakes –

June Area Creeks –

Mammoth Maps

inyo maps
Inyo National Forest Map

Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps
Devils Postpile Map
Mammoth High Country Map
Mono Divide Trail Map
Mammoth Mono Map NatGeo

other Eastern Sierra maps –

Bishop Pass Trail Maps
Hoover Wilderness Trail Map
John Muir Wilderness Maps
Mono Lake Map
Palisades Trail Maps

 

horseback overnight trips
Abundant Horse Packers in Eastern Sierra, California

Onion Valley Campground

whiteVWcamper

Spectacular Small Campground located inside a granite bowl above 9000′ elevation, on the edge of the granite, near the John Muir Wilderness trails.camp

Inyo National Forest near Independence, CA
Eastern Sierra California

One of the best high elevation trailhead camp for backpackers in the Sierra.

High Sierra Lake Hikes

Onion Valley Campground

Onion Valley CA

  • Elevation: 9,200′
  • Number of Sites: 29
  • Vehicle Accessibility: no RVs
  • Camp Fee: Yes
  • Campsites Reservation: Yes
  • Toilet: Vault
  • Water: Piped
  • Length of Stay: 14 Days
  • Season: June – Sept
  • Trailhead Parking

Inyo National Forest hiker
Mount Whitney Ranger District
760-876-6200

Trailhead parking & camping for these High Sierra destinations –

onionsign

wild mountain onions?

High elevation NFS campground, located in a huge granite valley w/ waterfalls, wildflowers and aspen groves. The setting is breathtaking and the high altitude valley is nothing less than grand.

The views (east to the Owens valley) are from the paved road up, or from the hiking trails leading up outta camp. Gotta hike up (on foot) to see the views! Any visitor that does not hike, will be missing out on the best features of this destination. Plan to spend more than one day at Onion Valley.

ONLY OPEN for summer months! This small, developed campground closes annually.  Big winters and deep snow is the norm w/ elevation this high.

 walk-in camp sites

tent campas well as car camping sites.

  • picnic tables
  • fire rings
  • vault toilets
  • piped water
  • bear boxes

ONION VALLEY ROAD
access via Independence, CA

The paved road is long and very winding; sheer cliffs, steep drop offs, hairpin curves, minimal guard rails. RV motorhomes are not allowed on this route, due to the steepness of the terrain and the narrow roadway. conradkid2001

  • backpacking
  • camp
  • hiking
  • horse pack trips
  • lake fishing
  • mountaineering
  • rock climbing

 

horsepacks hiking Mountains

Rae Lakes Loop Map
Topo Hiking Map

HIKING LAKES in the Sierra

goldentroutlakecanyon
Golden Trout Lake Canyon

Gilbert Lake @ Kearsarge

see Onion Valley photos from –
Onion Valley Autumn 2008
Onion Valley Summer 2002

Blue Lakes California

Blue Lakes
Hwy 88 @ Carson Pass
South of Tahoe

Blue Lake California
ADA Camping (Americans with Disabilities) Handicap accessible camp sites at Blue Lakes, near Hope Valley, CA

Blue Lake Campgrounds

highest lake campgrounds in the vicinity

Eldorado National Forest in Amador Ranger District; a forest south of Lake Tahoe in the central portion of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This set of scenic, alpine lakes sits in between both Eldorado, Toiyabe National Forests and the Mokelumne Wilderness. But please take note that the Blue Lake facilities are owned and operated by utility company PG&E

No Reservations.
most camp sites are available first-come, first-serve

RV limitations: 30 feet

69 miles east of Jackson, CA on Highway 88 and then another 12 miles south on Blue Lakes Road. This area is close to Hope Valley, south of Lake Tahoe, CA

Blue Lakes consist of several developed campgrounds. Blue Lakes Rd# 13 is a well signed, paved road off Hwy 88, just east of Carson Pass (8560′ elev). The route is closed during winter snow, while it serves as a winter recreation area. The main paved road becomes dirt near the campgrounds. A dirt road continues past the lakes and south to Deer Creek and meets w/ Hwy 4 near Ebbett’s Pass.blue lakes eldorado

RV campers, fishing folks, hikers, kayakers and disabled travelers like this lake camp area due to the easy access, paved parking and campground amenities. Handicapped camp sites are also prime lake front locations.

Group Campgrounds are reservable. Picnic Areas, Group Sites and campfire rings. Piped water, bear boxes and vault toilets. No RV hookups, no dump station, no showers. Unimproved boat ramps are available at Upper and Lower Blue Lakes.

Lower Blue Lake Campground
elev. 8055′
camp sites: 16

Blue Lake Dam
camp sites: 25

Middle Creek Campground
camp sites: 5

Upper Blue Lake Campground
elev. 8136′
camp sites: 32

Overflow Camp
camp sites: 34

hikesBackpackers and day hikers: Sierra trailheads out here lead south into the Mokelumne Wilderness Area. The infamous Pacific Crest Trail also passes thru this high elevation region: PCT access @ Carson Pass, Upper Lake & Tamarack Lake

recreation –PCT

  • backpacking
  • boating (non-motorized)
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • horseback
  • kayaking

local topographic maps:

nearby townsLower Blue Lake

 

Tahoe Back Roads

driftwood

another blue lake?

Yep, there is more than one Blue Lake in California.

Blue Lake Modoc
Blue Lake Modoc NF

Modoc Blue Lake

BLUE LAKE CAMPGROUND
NorCal region of the South Warner Wilderness in Modoc National Forest. That’s way out near Alturas, CA. Northeast California, real seclusion. Paved Road #64 is Jess Valley, which leads up to forested Blue Lake Campground, elevation 6051′

Wild Blue Lake
Wildlife viewing @ Blue Lake Modoc

Donner Blue Lake

DONNER PASS – Sierra Nevada
Interstate 80

BLUE LAKE CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass, near Truckee, CA; a PGE Campground w/ 4×4 access and hike-in only. First come, first serve. No tables or restrooms, elevation 5900′

 

Blue Lake Modoc

Modoc Blue Lake
Blue Lake in Modoc National Forest
Hiking Lake
Hiking Lake w/ Loop Trail in far Northern California

Blue Lake
Modoc National Forest

When you really wanna get away from it all, take a week off and head up to Modoc – the top northeast corner of California, where the volcanic mountains line the Great Basin.  The population is minimal, cattle are abundant and the campers few. Even in mid summer, this ideal lake campground rarely fills up.

camp

Jess Valley Road leads east off US 395 @ Likely, CA – 16 miles back to this hidden gem.

Headwaters to the Pit River.

NFS Campground is shady, well managed, and spread out on the eastern slope w/ numerous paved loops. Tent campers, cross country cyclists, truck campers w/ canoes, SUV families, motorhomes with kayaks and kids.

modoc map
Modoc Map

Blue Lake Campground NFS
• Elevation: 6,050′
• Number of Sites: 48
• Vehicle Accessibility: 32′ RV
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Campsite Reservation: No
• Water: Piped
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May –October
• Trailhead: Lake Loop
• Boat Ramp: Yes

Group Camp Facilities (by reservation only)
Modoc NF Warner Ranger District
@ 530-279-6116

Lava Blue Lake
Lava Rock @ Blue Lake Loop, in Modoc County, CA

Blue Lake National Recreation Trail

hikerRight next to camp: A pretty much perfect LAKE LOOP (1.5 mi) hiking trail is worth a serious stroll; footbridge, wildflowers, fishing spots, minimal hills, lava rocks, and awesome scenery. Plenty of wildlife can be seen, including butterflies and bald eagles. Trail is shaded by tall white fir and ponderosa pine trees. Trailhead is located at the Day Use parking lot, w/ paved boat ramp, dock, and picnic area.

stars canoe  fish

  • back roads
  • boating
  • camping
  • canoeing
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • picnicking
  • swimming
  • stargazing
  • wildflowers
  • wildlife

Wild Blue Lake

NOTE: not every CAMPSITE has a LAKE VIEW

Certain campsites are adjacent to the lake; some are set facing a meadow (Autumn w/ aspen groves), or the alpine forest w/ deer grazing. Perhaps an inner circle (interior) campsite, for those who like to be close to bathrooms and piped water. Large families will love the abundance of camp settings and accommodations.

Paved Loop
Plenty of Vault Toilets
Piped Water
Recycles & Trash Service

Large Campsites
Large Campsites can accommodate Motorhomes
  • no paved camp stall
  • no hook-ups
  • no dump station
  • no cell phone signalcamptruck

popular lake camp for motorhomes

When driving a large RV back in here, be courteous of other campers. Nothing sucks more than driving a long distance to the boonies, to arrive at camp just before dark and annoying everyone else already there.

Those needing to drive the campground loops (more than twice) looking for the biggest, levelest, best camp site – and burning $10 in gasoline doing so, should consider walking in.RV

Park that beast (near boat ramp area, before the camp entrance). Get out and walk the hills and loops, BREATHE & relax – prior to a choosing camp site.

Unhitch any tow vehicles; use that to scout out your perfect spot, if you cannot hike it. Trailers and large motorhomes will find this place ideal, but getting the right camp, can make all the difference.

Trail around Campground

Paved Trail around CampgroundThe wildfire: BLUE FIRE burned this region in 2001, but it is lush and green again (2019). Northern California gets some real weather. Rain and snow, more than half the year. The campground closes annually due to snow.

Kayaking is best done in the morning, cuz wind picks up in the afternoon. Canoes can launch at boat ramp, or at shoreline from trails near campsite.

Hiking trails can be found all around lake and campground. Wilderness access can be found at South Warner trailheads within a short drive from the lake.

Cyclists also love this camp, as it is located near a major highway and is a perfect place to really relax, soak in the scenery and get some quiet-nights sleep.

Modoc National ForestNFSlogo
225 West 8th Street
Alturas, CA 96101
530-233-5811

 

south warner sign

South Warner Wilderness is close by, driving distance; accessible by graded dirt roads. Signage is decent.

Modoc Forest Road #64 is a through-route, across the lower South Warners – 40
miles connecting to east side of the mountain, at Eagleville, CA.

Dirt Roads are suitable for trucks w/ trailers. SUVs and rugged passenger cars are okay. Motorhomes are not advised on this route.  Washboard conditions are typical. Winter closure on this route is common.

south warner mountains map

MODOC RD 64

Several miles away from Blue Lake, 2 rustic trailhead campgrounds are located back this way – East Creek Campground & Patterson Campground. Less than 10 camp sites each, equipped  w/ horse stalls, vault toilets and maybe piped water. Trailhead parking for backpackers. No RVs!

Autumn colors w/ aspen groves. Open, large meadows and mature forests w/ wildfire scars. Cattle can be found grazing all around, many cattle crossing.

Minimal primitive camping options, along road sides. Campfire permits required. No camping within one mile of a developed campground.

Cow Country
Modoc is Cow Country
Road64
Day Trippin – Out exploring Modoc Road 64 (and cutting firewood)

nearby towns –

see also –
Mill Creek Falls Campground

South Warner Wilderness

Warner Mountains
Modoc Country
Northeast California

Road 64

Wide open spaces, mountains, rivers and ranch lands. The very last of the unexplored high country of California. Rural and rustic regions are full of forested mountain ranges with sage brush meadows lying below. Valleys are high elevation deserts with a base terrain sitting above 4000′; Peaks @ 8000′ above sea level.

South Warner Wilderness

70,000 acres
80 miles N of Susanville, CA
Modoc National Forest
NFS

South Warner Wilderness is in the southern portion of the Warner Mountains, a north south positioned range, located in the top corner of the golden state. Surprise Valley lies to the east, bordering the Nevada state line and Alturas w/ US Hwy 395 on the west side.

California SR 299
Hwy 299, the only paved thoroughfare cuts right through the middle of the Warner Mountains. Paved Parker Creek Road #56 climbs up Parker Creek from Alturas, accessing camping, hiking, dirt back roads and wilderness trailheads. Warner Mountains State Game Refuge is north of the wilderness area.

One dirt route skirts the wilderness boundary – West Warner Road #5, which leads from Parker Creek due south to Jess Valley Rd #64. Blue Lake Road, Patterson Mill and Road #39N15 are nearest to East Creek. Winter driving tips from NFS.

butterfly

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • creeks
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • horseback riding
  • hot springs
  • lakes
  • waterfalls
  • wildflowers
  • wildlife

South Warner Lakes & Reservoirs lake

  • Clear Lake
  • Patterson Lake
  • Porter Reservoir (elev 6682′)
  • West Valley Reservoir (elev 4761′)
  • Blue Lake
  • Sworinger Reservoir (elev 5868′)

South Warner Trailheads hikes

  • Summit North Trailhead (Road #31)
  • Pine Creek Trailhead (Road #5)
  • Mill Creek Trailhead (Road #40N24)
  • Clear Lake Trailhead (Road #5)
  • Summit South Trailhead (Road #64)

mill creek falls modoc

South Warner Campgrounds camp

All these campgrounds listed can be accessed by a vehicle, most by narrow back roads (some dirt). If you prefer to drive on paved roads only, then you’ll need to choose Blue Lake or Mill Creek Falls. Deep snow closes forest roads and campgrounds are generally only open a few months per year, from May to October.

South Warner Mountain Peaks

  • Squaw Peak (elev 8646′)
  • Warren Peak (elev 9710′)
  • Dusenbury Peak (elev 9710′)
  • Eagle Peak (elev 9892′)
  • Cole Peak (elev 8970′)
  • Emerson Peak (elev 8989′)
  • Hat Mountain (elev 8737′)
  • Red Rock Mountain (elev 8518′)

south warner mountains map

Wilderness permits can be obtained at local ranger station: NFS
Modoc National Forest
225 West 8th Street
Alturas, CA 96101
530-233-5811

Blue Lake Modoc
Blue Lake Modoc

nearby towns –

Silver Lake @ Carson

silkysilver

Silver Lake @ Carson Pass

(Alpine Co)

7250′ elev.
on Highway 88 near Carson Pass, California
El Dorado National Forest
near Kirkwood Ski Resort & the Bear River

Large, granite, alpine lake in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains. Abundant trout fishing, swimming, camping, boating, hiking, floating, kayaking, picnic sites, and high altitude backpacking trailheads. Shoreline fishing is just as good as by boat. Fishing boats can be rented at Kit Carson Lodge.

granitesilver

The high altitude location makes this a winter wonderland half the year w/ snow ski resorts nearby! It is an awesome summertime family vacation destination as well. Fishing is excellent through Autumn months. Campgrounds close up shop in October, generally when the snow starts. High Sierra – Deep snow pack means they will not reopen until May (at the earliest).

Carson is major Sierra Pass highway, but it closes for big snows, so always check CalTrans before you make the drive up the mountain. Carson Pass is California State Route 88, which connects the Gold Country (on the western slopes) to the South Lake Tahoe region (on the eastern border), near Nevada.

Check Current Highway Conditions for HWY 88
roads.dot.ca.gov
Cal Trans 800-427-7623

Silver Lake Day Use Areas

fishing lakes picnic grounds fishing lakes boat ramp

These areas listed below are operated by El Dorado Irrigation District and they do charge a day-use fee for many of the amenities provided. Boat Launch fee? Yep. Parking fee? Maybe. Picnic stop! How much? Eat fast!

  • Ferguson Point is located on the north shore of Silver Lake: 10 picnic tables & vault toilets.
  • Sandy Cove is on NW shore of Silver Lake: Wheel-chair access to lake edge, 5 picnic tables, piped water & vault toilets.
  • Oyster Creek Rest Area, up along Highway 88, 1 mile NE of Silver Lake: 10 picnic tables & vault toilets.

kaysresortsign

Historic Memories: Camp Minkalo, Camp Silverado & Kays Silver Lake Resort are all closed now.

Many small businesses come and go in the rural mountains of California. Throughout the decades, some do survive, but many change hands, change names, or have a difficult time ‘making it all work’ in the off-season. Always call ahead (real phone w/ real person) before you make a big drive to a remote location.

National Forest Campgrounds in this lake vicinity:

East Silver Lake Campground – 62 sites
West Silver Lake Campground – 42 sites
Kirkwood Lake Campground – 12 sites

campground RV campground

Silver Lake Campground NFS

• Elevation: 7200′
• Number of Sites: 62
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 30′
• Campsite Reservations: Yes
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Toilet: Vault
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: June – October
• Trailheads: Hidden Lake, Sandy Cove

NFS
El Dorado National Forest
Amador Ranger District
26820 Silver Drive
Pioneer, CA 95666
209-295-4251

silver from highway

Older lodges, resorts, camps and cabins at Silver Lake were mainly built in the 1920s, while the oldest resort dates back to the mid 1800s. Wow, how cool is that! Much history in this mountain region w/ Kit Carson Emigrant Trail, all stories totally worth exploring.

Kit Carson Lodge
Rustic Silver Lake Cabins & Restaurant
kitcarsonlodge.com
209-258-8500

Historic Plasse’s Resort
One of the Oldest Camps in the USA
plassesresort.com
209-258-8814

Gold Miners

See all Silver Lakes in California

Mill Creek Falls Modoc

mill creek falls

Mill Creek Falls
Modoc National Forest

Just found another MILL CREEK in Northern California; a waterfall on the west side of the South Warner Wilderness. Located at the headwaters to the Pit River; about 6 miles east of Likely, CA

A small developed campground on a wooded slope; with new bathrooms, shady camp sites, a paved loop, and a short hike to the falls.Hiking trailhead leads into the wilderness area for fishing, hiking, lakes and backcountry access.

Open less than half the year, due to winter snow. Campground access off US Hwy 395, via Jess Valley Road #64

Mill Creek Falls Campground NFS

• Elevation: 5,680′
• Number of Sites: 20
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Piped Water: Yes
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: June – October
• Trailheads: South Warner Wilderness, Clear Lake

millcreek modoc

NFSlogo

Modoc National Forest
Warner Mountain Ranger District
530-279-6116

mill creek falls modoc

paved camp loop

Modoc Blue Lake Campground is also located off  Jess Valley Road.

south warner sign

Parking area for day use hikers and overnight backpackers. Hiking trail to waterfall is a short, half mile hike.

Clear Lake is further upstream, above the falls. If you want to find swimming holes, below the falls – then head down river from camp.

elevation 5680

see more MILL CREEKS in California