Tag Archives: altitude

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

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′

 

Wishon Reservoir

Lake Wishon – Sierra NF

Western Sierra Nevada Lake
Central Sierra California

lake wishon

East of Fresno, CA
East of Shaver Lake

EB from Fresno, Hwy 168 up to Shaver, w/ another 30+ miles on paved backroads
(Dinkey Creek Rd & then McKinley Grove Rd)
Way, way back, beyond Dinkey

You gotta really wanna BE at places like this. Magical High Sierra mountains – California’s finest. Sheer beauty surrounds this lake w/ granite domes, granite cliffs, granite trails, forests, peaks and plenty hiking, fishing, water and boating. It does take planning (way ahead) to make it out here, cuz the area is only accessible during summer months. Typical of high altitude lakes, snow buries them annually and the roads get closed off to the public (usually NOV-MAY is winter). Some backcountry routes become snowmobiling trails during winter, and the Sierra National Forest has plenty of great snomo action (if snow is deep).

Wishon Lake, California
elevation: 6600′

High Sierra Granite Reservoir with pines trees and rocky, granite shoreline. Not nearly as amazing as its cousin w/ the domes to the north, Courtright, Wishon has less granite & less wind, but more accessible backroads to explore, plus more car camping options. Both lakes are part of the Helms Creek hydro-electric project (dams) that make up the PG&E water infrastructure out in these parts – The Kings River Drainage System.

Backpacker trailheads, Woodchuck, Rancheria & Crown Valley all lead to dead end dirt roads – with nothing but solitude for miles & miles. Some might be passenger car accessible. Winter weather changes dirt road conditions (often).

The Kings River Geological Area is nearby, as well as both the John Muir Wilderness & Dinkey Lakes Wilderness.

Wishon Sierra Nevada

Large Reservoir with 8,000-10,000′ high sierra mountain peaks surrounding. Pine forests, views, fishing, camping, hiking in every direction, secluded dirt roads. Perfect high elevation trailheads, next to John Muir Wilderness. Great for backpackers!

All boating, but no waterski or jet ski.
One public boat ramp. Fishing boat rentals available.

WARNING: Water level changes daily.

 

lake area recreation:

Backpacking
Boating
Campground Camping
Dinkey Lakes Wilderness
Fishing
Hiking
Horse Pack Trips
John Muir Wilderness
Mountain Biking
Primitive Camping
Sierra National Forest
Snowmobiling the Sierras
Spanish Lake 4×4 Route

bridgewishon

Wishon is a summer vacation paradise for trout fishing, hiking, backpacking and back road exploring.

CLOSED FOR WINTER: NOV-APRIL = Snow closes the road for winter. For all you hardcore campers and hikers, you must call ahead to see if roads are open. It is rural forest, well traveled, but snow storms will shut everything down out here (for many months). Although, in some mild winters you can drive as far as Dinkey Creek on pavement. Gates are locked beyond that.

Central Sierra Wishon Lake Camping

LilyPad Campground @ Wishon Lake

Upper Kings Group Campground (by reservation only)

helpful numbers:

High Sierra Rangers Office: 559-855-5355
Pineridge and Kings River Ranger Districts
29688 Auberry Road, Prather, CA 93651

Dinkey Creek Ranger Station
(June thru September)
559-841-3404

Wishon Village RV
66500 McKinley Grove Road, Shaver Lake, CA 93664
559-865-5361

Engineering

Other places nearby


Black Rock Lake
Sierra Forest Road #11S12
Courtright Lake
Dusy Ershim 4×4 Trail

Dinkey Creek Campground
Dorabelle Campground
Gigantea Campground
McKinley Sequoia Grove
Sawmill Campground (dirt road)

Free, primitive or open camping abundant on the dirt backroads in Sierra National Forest. 4 wheel drive is not required for most routes, but a high clearance rig would help. Some gravel roads are graded annually and suitable for passenger cars – during summer months and only for about the first mile or two, off of the main road (pavement). Mud and snow are common on backroads!

Aspens @ Wishon, Western Sierra
nearby towns:
Fresno, CA
Huntington Lake
Lakeshore
Pine Flat
Prather
Shaver Lake

 

Sierra National Forest Map
Sierra National Forest Map
Dinkey Lakes Map
Dinkey Lakes Map
John Muir Wilderness Trail Maps Sierra Nevada Topo Map

Wilderness Wishon California

wish on

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH:
Wishon in Giant Sequoia & Wishon @ Bass Lake

There is another popular camp spot called Wishon Camp – on the Western Divide Highway, much further south in the Sequoia National Forest.

Wishon Campground on the Tule River in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Just up from Springville, CA

And also, the Bass Lake Wishon; there is another WISHON Campground at popular Bass Lake, South of Yosemite NP.

California Locations

La Porte Road
One Eyed Jacks Market & Grill – on La Porte Road. Clipper Mills, CA

Abundant on California Locations

califrepublic

depot desert
Kelso Depot, Mojave National Preserve

train

Subway Cave California
Subway Cave California

ranger

bridge kings
Kings River, California

hiker

kongsberg_town


Laguna Hanson Baja

hammock

Laguna Hanson

aka Laguna Juarez, Baja California Mexico

pinetree

(Laguna is Lagoon or Lake in Spanish)

elevation: 5,500′

Located inside the Sierra Juarez Mountains
Parque Nacional Constitucion de 1857, or
Constitucion de 1857 National Park, Baja California, Mexico

Pine forests in Baja California: Dirt roads access Laguna Hanson, so come prepared to drive many miles with dust & potholes — more than 20+ miles from the paved highway just to reach this prime high elevation destination. Since most of Baja is desert, dirt and coastline, this location is a rare treat for those wishing to travel (off the beaten path). The tallest mountain peak in Baja is nearby with the University Observatory.

observatorio
San Pedro Martir

campBaja Camping in the Mountains

Water levels drop well below normal & what we end up with is a shallow lake with huge boulders emerged. Kinda surreal looking. Tall pines & dense forest surrrounding lake. Wide open & flat areas perfect for biking, stargazing and group camping.

grazerland

4x4This Baja National Park campground is more like dispersed, or open camping around lake shore. Very popular place in the summer months & if you want seclusion camp away from the lake, deep in the forest. The best quiet spots are located in the north east vicinity.

No motorhomes allowed: the road is steep, long, all dirt and narrow in certain spots.

baja maps
Baja Maps from NatGeo
  • bouldering (rock climbing)
  • camping
  • dirt bike trails
  • hiking trails
  • horseback trails
  • hunting
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • off-roading
  • sightseeing


No services at lake. Minimal camping facilities. Self sufficient campers a must. 

checkBRING EVERYTHING = ice chest w/ block ice, drinking water, flat tire repair kits, tow strap; extra blankets, medication, first aid kit. There is no store within 30+ miles of here, and the dirt road is very long (both ways) – so it is best to be prepared with all food and beverages.

LOCALS NOTE: An occasional rancher may approach your camp with his farm truck, selling fresh made cheese, beef jerky or other farm produce.

campfireNo pavement, no picnic tables.
Minimal pit toilets, few rangers patrolling and rock fire rings.

CAMPERS TIP: The toilets can be nasty!! Bring a shovel and wipes; walk into the forest for your bathroom break.

See our CAMP POTTY page for pooping in the wild

greatbkrds

 

dirtbikesOHV trails are nearby. OFF ROADING, dirt biking and 4×4 routes are essentially any dirt road that is within this forest; Drive slower, keep your ears peeled and watch out when they pass you, cuz they are most nimble and quicker.

No motorcycles signs are posted, but that doesn’t stop them riding all hours of the night. The mountains near Tecate and Mike’s Sky Ranch both cater to dirt bikers and tours, and are located nearby (sorta).

Park rangers & rules here are a lot more lax that in the “States”.

MAP NOTE: Google Maps has this place listed as Laguna Juarez

openspots4


23S16 – Sequoia NF

Sugarloaf Ridge, Greenhorn Mts
Alta Sierra, Kern River Canyon

sugarloafrd
Sugarloaf Road, above Kern River Canyon

SOUTH SIERRA: This route is located in between the Western Divide Highway and the cedar community of Alta Sierra, CA

Sequoia Camping

Sugarloaf Ridge: Forest Rd# 23S16 – Thompson Camp Spring, The Den @ Sequoia National Forest

Driving north on Sierra Hwy N of Kernville, California; Passing Fairview & the Johnsondale bridge; After the R Ranch @ Johnsondale, take the left fork on the main highway; After you climb in elevation, look for brown signs on right side of road & turn left on Forest Service Rd# 23S16. Primitive camp sites are located throughout this area along Packsaddle Creek. Do not turn left up Sugarloaf Rd. There are no good camp sites up that way (unless you wanna make one).

RV campers are very common at Thompson Camp Spring, as this road is paved up to this point. The paved road is windy & narrows after this point. It is not advised for trailers or long motorhomes past Thompson.

For the more adventurous, Bear Meadow & Packsaddle Mdw are located up the dirt road a bit on #23S64.

Vsugar

Paved Sequoia route# 23S16 continues to climb, which leads to the Speas Meadow, the Greenhorn Mountains & you best have a real good map if you are heading up this way. 20 miles of awesome open meadows, small streams, dense forest, wildflowers, some primitive camp sites & great viewpoints overlooking the Kern Canyon. All passenger car accessible! Elevations between 6000-7000′. Sugarloaf Peak has cross country skiing.

Side route #23S05 will take you to White River Campground w/ 12 spots. The paved road winds west down the mountain to Posey & eventually Glennville on Hwy 155.

Instead, to easily reach Hwy 155 – you’ll need to get on dirt for a few miles. While on 23S16, look for the Panorama Campground (@ 7400′ elevation w/ 10 sites). Take dirt road #24S15 to get back to civilization @ Alta Sierra, California.

NFSlogo

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest MAP

Sequoia Forest Topo Atlas

 

nearby small towns are:

Vbeardrive

kernwildflowers
Kern River Wildflowers (April) w/ Sugarloaf Mountains

Cold Springs Campground

Cold Springs

Mineral King Campground, Sequoia NP

NPSSequoia National Park: Cold Springs Campground in Mineral King Area

A large developed camp ground with bear lockers, a raging creek, some walk in sites, & access to the Sierra Nevada high country trails.  This is the last real campground in the main valley, everything beyond this spot is pure alpine highcountry.

9000′-13,000′ peaks – in the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Car camp, tent camping or bring a backpack and climb to pristine lakes and into the real Wilderness.

Cold Springs Campground, California

on the East Fork of the Kaweah River, closest campground to the hiker trailheads @ Mineral King Valley. Mineral King Road open May-October (depending on snow)

Atop the mighty canyon sits mountain passes, peaks and lakes above 10,000′ elevation. A rocky alpine valley of wonder and water, granite, dark skies and a good night sleep. Black bears and hikers are everywhere, anytime.

This sweet spot river campground has more than 25 camp sites, but there is not a lot to choose from way back here on the dead end back road known as Mineral King in California.  Just up the road a piece from Silver City. Nearest real town is Three Rivers near Sequoia NP south gate, California State Route 198.

Western Sierra /

Sequoia South Camping –

37 camp sites in Mineral King @ 7500′ elevation
vault toilets, river and piped water, bear boxes
first come, first served camping

Max Camper Length: 0
(RV, motorhomes, camper trailers are not allowed)

Rangers Office: 559-565-3768

Cold Springs Campground has several campsites right on a river with other sites set up a steep forested hills. There are good number of walk-in camp sites at the end of this campground, ideal for backpackers arriving late at night. The actual walk is more like a hike, so be prepared to carry your stuff a mile down a steep forested trail. You will be rewarded with a great camp spot, near the river, away from the parking lot and noise of the car campers above. Tar Gap hiking trail leads out of Coldsprings campground and straight into the back country.

Coldsprings Camp & Atwell Mill are the only options for local tent camping.
Strapping on a backpack and heading for the high country is what most visitors do, as this is an ideal high country trailhead accessible from the western reaches of the Sierra Nevada range.

Mineral King trailheads lead out to – 
alpine fishing lakes
mountain peaks
Great Western Divide
Kings Kern Divide
Kern Canyon Wilderness
South Sierra Wilderness
Golden Trout Wilderness
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon NP
Sequoia National Forest
Mountain Home State Forest
Giant Sequoia National Monument
John Muir Wilderness
ROAD CONDITIONS:

East of Three Rivers, CA on Highway 198 – Mineral King Road peels off to the right, south east to a vast 30 mile long canyon. This mostly paved route closes for winter months when snow is present and rock slides are common. There is a few miles of unpaved, graded 2 lane road, but the majority is paved. Late spring (May) is typically the opening season for this road. RVs, buses, and trailers are not allowed on this narrow, winding road!

MineralKing

BIG TREES NOTE: Although this gorgeous, secluded canyon is located within Sequoia National Park, there are no Sequoia redwood trees in this particular canyon. And you might need to drive an hour up the other mountain to reach them. Just a consideration. If you have your heart set on the seeing the big trees, go do that on another trip. Mineral King is a journey and after your drive that road you will understand a few times.

HIKER PARKING: The NPS rangers station is walking distance from Cold Springs Campground. A beautiful meadow walk to the east of the campground. Bears are known to frequent the area, so locking all food in the provided metal bear lockers is a must.

Badgers are a problem too. Them critters eat radiator hoses – no joke! A good roll of chicken wire could be needed if you plan to leave your car unattended for any length of time.

View Mineral King Camping in a larger map

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

Map 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.


California Mountain Maps

The Mountains of California

Camping El Dorado NF, on the Consumnes River
Camping El Dorado NF, on the Consumnes River

If you know you wanna head up in elevation, higher altitudes – to the pine forests of California, but have no clue where to start, this page may be very helpful in determining your ultimate destination. We have hundreds of pages on adventures & locations throughout the golden state. We sell all California maps for outdoor recreation, hiking topos to off road routes.

Wanna camp under the stars this weekend – and avoid the crowds too? You will need a good back road map to find this awesome camp site, guaranteed. Need a hammock spot, small swimming hole & total seclusion? Or how about a large family camp w/ Sequoia grove nearby? Total Escape has something for every ones budget & lifestyle. See below for an extensive breakdown of California mountain regions.

#1
SoCal mountains have tighter restrictions on campfires, larger number of people camping in a smaller amount of space, minimal primitive camping options in the forests, more fees to access these lands.

#2
The Sierra Nevada mountains are the prime outdoor destination for many in the Central California region. High elevations w/ granite slabs to lower country reservoirs & riverside oak flats. Folks come from all over the world to visit parks and lakes within this mountain range. Indeed, 4 National Parks call the Sierras home: Lassen, Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP – not to mention the 10 National Forest and 15+ Wilderness Areas.

#3
You want big water? Cabins next to a prime fishing river or camping near lakes, creeks with dense forests, then you will have to drive to the mid Sierra or even NorCal to find ’em.

Wilderness maps

California Mountain Regions Defined –
find the details on specific region for California mountains

saabaru_forest
Mountain Home Sequoias

epic finds

Find little known parks, camps and forests within our vast California BACK ROADS data base. Below is a small sampling of our picturesque mountain pages, where you can find the best seclusion: hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking trails, rivers, creeks and peaks.

NFSlogo

Sierra Buttes
The Sierra Buttes, Northern Sierra near Gold Lake

sierra National Forest map

Outdoor Recreation Maps of California:

inyohighroad
Inyo high roads, of the Eastern Sierra


Wilderness Lakes

Lake Genevieve
Lake Genevieve, hike-in only access. Way up behind Convict Lake @ Mammoth Lakes, CA

calif lakes / secluded lakes / loop hike around lake / best lake in california / lake elevation / geology lakes / alpine lakes

hike-in lakes

Wilderness lakes are as pure as it gets. No cattle, no roads nearby. Snow melt, cool days, good fishing, great mountain scenery, granite, fresh air & clean water. You have to really wanna reach them. You must physically WORK to get to these remote alpine wonderlands – hike, bike, or horseback.

Heart Lake
Heart Lake, near Onion Valley & Kearsarge Pass

Some lakes are accessible via a day hike, with miles of forest trails or granite switchbacks in between. Waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife will keep you entertained, as you enjoy your trek. No rush, no pressure; Go slow and take it all in. Remember, it’s not a race!

Most people prefer to backpack in to these locations and stay a while. Why not? These puppies are ACCESSIBLE only a few months outta the whole year. May as well enjoy them while you can. The rest of the time they are frozen solid or buried with serious snow. Wilderness areas do not allow dogs nor mountain bikes on trails, so plan accordingly.

camp, fish, hike, horseback, swim

California is lucky to have hundreds of lakes within protected wilderness areas. Almost all are gorgeous and have very limited access. While we haven’t yet been able to hike every Wilderness in Cali, we will leave you with the visuals and links, plus a way to buy the specific topo maps.

California Wilderness Lakes

Ansel Adams Wilderness

Bucks Lake Wilderness

Carson Iceberg Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness

Granite Chief Wilderness

Emigrant Wilderness

Hoover Wilderness

John Muir Wilderness

Lassen National Park

Mokelumne Wilderness

Monarch Wilderness (Kings Cyn)

Jennie Lakes Wilderness

Thousand Lakes Wilderness

Trinity Alps Wilderness

Yosemite National Park

wild California

 

HIGH ALTITUDE LAKES:
4000′ elevation to 14,000′ elevation

snowflake

SEASONAL deep SNOW makes many of these beautiful lakes inaccessible for more than half the year. Call ahead to local rangers to make sure your desired destination is indeed open for traffic. Certain locations may require snow shoes, snowmobile or a 4WD to access.

Forget the hike!

If you are seeking a remote mountain lake that you can drive to, you will need to search for one that has the fewest people. A high clearance vehicle will help you exit the tourist traps, via plenty of the back roads. Some dirt roads are acessible with just a passenger car or AWD wagon. Talk to the ‘field ranger’ for up-todate road conditions and closures.campfires Make sure to get a campfire permit, before you camp outside of developed campgrounds. Always steer clear of crowded, holiday weekends.

Juniper Lake Table
Juniper Lake – Lassen NPS

California LAKE LIST

The lake list above samples most of the lakes in California. For secluded locations and rare finds (accessible by vehicle), see the list below and follow links for more info.

fernlake
Fern Lake – hike in access, June Lake Loop Hwy 158

More California regions with pristine lakes, but not dubbed Wilderness:

turtleandfriend
Turtle and Friend, Junction City, CA
Sunrise Lakes
Sunrise Lakes, Yosemite Loop Hike


All Lake Campgrounds

davisatsunset

California Lakes A-Z

alphabetically listed; cross reference by lake or campground name. reservations may be accepted for certain locations; follow links.

Developed Lake Campgrounds
inside California

lake campgrounds

lakes mountains foothills camp  boating fishing hiking State Parks NFS

Most of the lake campgrounds listed below are traditional style campgrounds with easy access: paved driveways, toilets, tables, maybe piped water. Various agencies manage these park campsites and additional links are provided.

Some of the campgrounds may be more primitive than others, with long dirt road access, gravel driveways, and minimal facilities. This list includes a wide range of lakes, from reservable group camps, to private RV resorts to back road beauties. Even a few campgrounds without fees!

Higher elevation locations close-up for the seasonal winter snow, which can last from NOV-MAY (or later, depending on snowmelt).

  • no motor boats?
  • no RVs?
  • wilderness lake fishing?
  • trailhead access?

Each lake camp is different, so know what is available at the location before you get out there. Many spots do not have a boat ramp. Some lakes do not allow swimming. Some might be 4×4 access only, w/ hairy granite rock road, 12 miles long. If you require a general store within walking distance, then get the maps out, follow links and make sure.

ACORN CAMPGROUND
New Hogan Lake, Valley Springs, Stockton CA

ALMANOR CAMPGROUND
Lake Almanor, Westwood, Chester, California

ANTELOPE LAKE – Plumas NF, Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

Anthony Chabot Park
Lake Chabot Campground

East Bay San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda, CA

ANTLERS RV CAMPGROUND
Lake Shasta, Lakehead, O’Brien CA, Interstate 5

ASPEN GROUP CAMP
Jackson Meadow Reservoir, Tahoe NF, Truckee, California

ASPEN GROVE CAMPGROUND NFS
Eagle Lake, Lassen NF, Susanville, California

ASPEN HOLLOW GROUP CAMP NFS
Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Park, Hume Lake

AUBURN SRA BOAT-IN CAMPING State Park
Auburn State Recreation Area, Gold Country
Folsom Lake, American Arm, Auburn, CA

lakes

BAILEY COVE CAMPGROUND
Lake Shasta, California

BASS LAKE – Sierra National Forest, South of Yosemite NP NFS

BEAR RIVER GROUP CAMP
Lower Bear Reservoir, Eldorado National Forest

BENBOW LAKE STATE RECREATION AREA State Park
Mendocino Benbow Lake, NorCal Redwoods US 101

BERGER CAMPGROUND NFS
Packer Lake @ Lakes Basin Recreation Area, Yuba River, North Gold Country California; Sierra City, Downieville CA

BIG COVE CAMPGROUND
Frenchman Lake, Feather River, Plumas NF, Portola CA

BIG SILVER GROUP CAMP
Union Valley Reservoir, US Hwy 50, Placerville, Gold Country

BLACK BUTTE LAKE – North Sac Valley, NorCal

BLACK OAK CAMPGROUNDNFS
Stumpy Meadows Reservoir, Eldorado NF
East of Georgetown, CA

BLACKROCK RESERVOIR
North fork of Kings River, Sierra NF
Western Sierra Nevada

BLUE LAKES, South of Lake Tahoe
PGE Campgrounds @ Carson Pass, Hwy 88

  • Blue Lake Dam
  • Lower Blue Lake Campground
  • Middle Creek Campground
  • Upper Blue Lake Campground

BLUE LAKE DISPERSED CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
PGE Campground, first come
4×4 roads and hike-in access only jeep30 hike

BOCA RESERVOIR – Tahoe NF, Truckee, California NFS

BOULDER GULCH CAMPGROUND NFS
Kern Canyon, Lake Isabella, California

BOWMAN LAKE (5665′ elev)
Tahoe National Forest, N of Donner Pass

  • BOWMAN LAKE CAMPGROUND

BRANNAN ISLAND STATE RECREATION AREA State Park
Sacramento River @ California Delta, Lodi CA

Indian Rock Beach, Bucks Lake California

BUCKS LAKE – North Sierra, Plumas National Forest

BURNEY FALLS STATE PARK CAMPGROUND State Park
Lake Britton SRA, Burney, California

BUSHAY CAMPGROUND
Lake Mendocino, California

coolsprings

BUTT VALLEY Reservoir – PG&E Campgrounds
West of Lake Almanor

BUTTE LAKE – Lassen Volcanic National Park NPS

  • BUTTE LAKE CAMPGROUND
  • BUTTE LAKE GROUP CAMP
  • BUTTE LAKE STOCK CORRALhorses

lakes

CARR LAKE CAMPGROUND
North of Donner Pass, Tahoe NF
hike-in camp sites

Castaic Lake RV Park
North Los Angeles County, Castiac, CA Interstate 5

CHEKAKA CAMPGROUND
Lake Mendocino, Wine Country California, US Hwy 101

CHERRY LAKE (wildfire 2013)
West of Yosemite NP

  • CHERRY VALLEY CAMPGROUND

CHILCOOT CAMPGROUND
South of Frenchman Lake, East Plumas NF, Feather River, Portola CA

Chowchilla Recreation Area
Eastman Lake, Central Valley, Fresno CA

CHRISTIE CAMPGROUND
Eagle Lake, south shore; Plumas NF, Susanville, California

CLEAR LAKE SP – Wine Country, California State Park

CODORNIZ RECREATION AREA
Eastman Lake, San Joaquin Valley, Central Valley

COLLEGE CAMPGROUND NFS
Huntington Lake, Western Sierra Nevada

CONVICT LAKE CAMPGROUND NFS
Eastern Sierra, US Hwy 395, Mammoth Lakes

COTTONWOOD SPRINGS CAMPGROUND
Frenchman Lake, Feather River, North Sierra Nevada

COURTRIGHT RESERVOIR hikesNFS
Le Conte Divide, John Muir Wilderness
Sierra NF, Western Sierra Nevada

CROWLEY LAKE
Eastern Sierra, South of Mammoth Lakes

CRYSTAL LAKE
Angeles National Forest, Azusa, CA

lakes

DE VALLE LAKE SRA
Central Valley Reservoir

D.L. BLISS SP State Park
DL BLISS CAMPGROUND
DL Bliss State Park, Lake Tahoe, California

DINKEY CREEK
Dinkey Creek CA; near Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Area
Sierra NF, south of Shaver Lake CA

DONNER STATE PARK State Park
Donner Lake, Sierra Nevada, Donner Pass
, Tahoe NF, Truckee, CA

  • Donner Memorial State Park Campground

lakes

EAGLE LAKE – Lassen NF, Susanville, California

EASTMAN LAKE – California Central Valley, Fresno CA

CAMP EDISON @ SHAVER
EDISON CAMPGROUND
California Edison Campground
@ Shaver Lake, CA, Western Sierra

ELLERY CREEK
McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake, California

EMERALD BAY SP State Park
South Lake Tahoe California

lakes

FALLEN LEAF CAMPGROUND 
South Lake Tahoe California

FASHODA CAMPGROUND NFS
Union Valley Reservoir, Mid-Sierra, ElDorado NF

FAUCHERIE GROUP CAMP
Faucherie Lake, Donner Pass Area, Tahoe NF,  Truckee, California

FAWN CAMPGROUND
Trinity Alps Highway 3, NorCal, Trinity Lake CA

FIR COVE CAMPGROUND NFS
Ruth Lake, Mad River CA @ Hwy 36, Six River NF

FISH LAKE CAMPGROUND
Hwy 96, Six River National Forest, Orleans CA

Florence Lake Picnic

FLORENCE LAKE
Sierra National Forest

  • JACKASS MEADOW CAMPGROUND

FOLSOM LAKE SRA State Park
Folsom State Recreation Area, Sacramento CA

FORKS CAMPGROUND
Bass Lake, Sierra NF, South Yosemite

FREMONT CAMPGROUND
near Lake CachumaSanta Barbara Camping

FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR – American River

  • LEWIS CAMPGROUND

FRENCHMAN LAKE – Plumas NF, Feather River, Portola CA

FULLER LAKE
Donner Pass, Tahoe NF
No more Campground; Day Use Only
see – RUCKER LAKE for camping

lakes

GLORY HOLE RECREATION AREA
GLORY HOLE CAMPGROUND

New Melones Reservoir
Angels Camp, California Gold Country

GOLD LAKE, CALIFORNIA
Lakes Basin Recaretion Area, Northern Sierra

GREEN VALLEY CAMPGROUND NFS
Green Valley Lake, Big Bear Lake Area, San Bernardino NF

GRIZZLY CAMPGROUND
Lake Davis, Plumas National Forest, Portola CA

lakes

LAKE HAVASU
Colorado River @ California – Arizona border

HAYWARD FLAT
Trinity Lake, NorCal Highway 3, Weaverville CA

LAKE HEMET
Idyllwild, CA – RV Camping, Southern California

HETCH HETCHY RESERVOIR
NPS Campground, West of Yosemite NP

HIGHLANDS LAKES
Ebbetts Pass Hwy 4, Sierra Nevada

HORSE CREEK
Lake Kaweah, South Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers CA

HUME LAKE – Kings Canyon & Sequoia NP, Hume Lake

HUNGRY GULCH CAMPGROUND NFS
Lake Isabella, Kern River, Kernville CA

HUNTINGTON LAKE – Western Sierra Nevada NFS

HUTCHINS CAMPGROUND
Bucks Lake, CA, Plumas National Forest

Bucks Lake Campgrounds

lakes

ICE HOUSE CAMPGROUNDNFS
Ice House Reservoir, US Hwy 50, El Dorado NF

INDEPENDENCE LAKE 6949′
N of Donner Pass; N of Truckee, CA

  • INDEPENDENCE LAKE CAMPGROUND

ISLAND PARK CAMPGROUND
Pine Flat Reservoir, Kings River, Sierra NF

JACKSON FLAT GROUP CAMPNFS
Jackson Lake, Angeles NF, Wrightwood CA

jacksoncreek
Jackson Creek Campground, Bowman Lake. N Donner Pass, Interstate 80

JACKSON MEADOWS Reservoir – Tahoe NF, Truckee

  • ASPEN GROUP CAMP
  • EAST MEADOW CAMPGROUND
  • FINDLEY CAMPGROUND
  • FIR TOP CAMPGROUND
  • JACKSON POINT
  • PASS CREEK CAMP
  • WOODCAMP

JUANITA LAKE GROUP CAMP
near Butte Valley Wildlife Area, Klamath NF, Weed CA

JUNE LAKE CAMPGROUND NFS
June Lake Loop, Hwy 158, June Lake, CA Eastern Sierra

JUNIPER LAKE – Lassen Volcanic NP NPS

  • JUNIPER LAKE GROUP CAMP
  • JUNIPER LAKE STOCK CORRAL
    Equestrian Camping

Lassen Lakes

KASPIAN CAMPGROUND
hiking trail to Barker Peak @ Lake Tahoe CA

LAKE KAWEAH
just outside Sequoia NP, Three Rivers, CA

KIDD LAKE GROUP CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass @ Soda Springs, CA
kayak, canoe, hike-in camp sites

KINGS BEACH SRA
State Recreation Area Lake Tahoe CA

lakes

LAKE ALMANOR – Northern Sierra Nevada

LAKE BERRYESSA – Wine Country California

  • OAK SHORES CAMPGROUND

LAKE BRITTON  Burney Falls Park State Park

LAKE CACHUMA – Santa Barbara Mountains NFS

LAKE DAVIS – Plumas National Forest, Portola, CA bike

LAKE EDISON – Sierra NF, John Muir Wilderness hikes

LAKE ISABELLA – Kern River, South Sierra Nevada NFS

LAKE MENDOCINO – North Wine Country CA, US Hwy 101

LAKE MOJAVE
Lake Mohave National Recreation Area
Colorado River 4×4 Camping, AZ, CA, NV

LAKE OROVILLE SRA State Park
Oroville Lake State Recreation Area
Loafer Creek, Equestrian Camp, Feather River Oroville CA

LAKE PERRIS SRA State Park
Inland Empire, Southern California

LAKE PILLSBURY
Mendocino NF, N of Ukiah, CA

  • Fuller Grove Campground (currently closed)
  • Oak Flat Creek Campground (currently closed)
  • Poigie Point Campground (currently closed)
  • Sunset Campground (currently closed)
  • Trout Creek Campground (currently closed)

LAKE SONOMA – Wine Country California, Geyserville

LAKE SPAULDING
PG&E Campground, Donner Pass, Interstate 80

tahoe emerald bay
The Gem of the Sierra Nevada – Lake Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE – Sierra Nevada Mountains State Park NFS

LAKE VALLEY Reservoir 
Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

  • LODGEPOLE CAMPGROUND

LAKES BASIN CAMPGROUND NFS
Lakes Basin Recreation Area, North Gold Country

LAKESHORE EAST
Shasta Lake, Northern California

LAKESIDE CAMPGROUND NFS
Prosser Reservoir, OHV Camping, Truckee, California

LEWIS CAMPGROUND
French Meadows Reservoir, American River, W of Lake Tahoe

LIBERTY GLEN CAMPGROUND
Lake Sonoma, Wine Country California

Lake Davis Trails
Lake Davis Trails – hike, bike, horseback

LIGHTNING TREE CAMPGROUND NFS
Lake Davis, Plumas National Forest, Susanville, California

LINDSEY LAKE CAMPGROUND
North of i80 Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

LODGEPOLE CAMPGROUND
Lake Valley Reservoir 
i80 Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

LOGGER FLAT CAMPGROUND
near Hume Lake, near Sequoia & Kings National Parks NPS

LONE ROCK NFS
Antelope Lake, Plumas NF, Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

LONG POINT NFS
Antelope Lake, Plumas NF, Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

LOON LAKE CAMPGROUND NFS
ElDorado NF High Country, Georgetown, CA

LOON LAKE CHALET NFS
ElDorado NF High Country, Georgetown, CA

LOS ALAMOS CAMPGROUND
Pyramid Lake, North Los Angeles, Interstate 5
(no campgrounds on the lakeshore)

LOWER TWIN LAKES NFS
Twin Lakes CA, BRIDGEPORT, Eastern Sierra

LUNDY LAKE CAMPGROUND
Eastern Sierra, East of Yosemite NP

LUPINE CAMPGROUNDNFS
Bass Lake, Sierra NF, South Yosemite

lakes

MAMMOTH POOL RESERVOIR Sierra NF, South of Yosemite NP

MANZANITA LAKE – Lassen Volcanic NP NPS

MARY SMITH CAMPGROUND
Lewiston Lake, Trinity River, Lewiston CA

MEADOW LAKE CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
PGE Campground, high clearance vehicles only

MEEKS BAY CAMPGROUND
Lake Tahoe California, west shore

LAKE MENDOCINO
Lake Campground Mendocino, Ukiah CA, US Hwy 101

MERRILL CAMPGROUND
Eagle Lake Recreation Area, Susanville CA

MESA CAMPGROUND
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, Cajon Pass L.A.

MILLERTON LAKE SRA State Park
Millerton Lake Campground, Fresno CA

MODESTO RESERVOIR REGIONAL PARK
Western Sierra Foothills, Modesto, Merced, Central Valley

MONO LAKE, CALIFORNIA
Eastern Sierra, US Hwy 395 @ Lee Vining, CA

lakes

NELSON POINT
Shasta Lake, Northern California

NEVADA BEACH CAMPGROUND
Lake Tahoe, south shore @ Nevada state line, US Hwy 50

bullards bar California
Bullards Bar, Sierra Nevada Mountains
Dark Day Campground, Bullards Bar

NEW BULLARDS BAR RESERVOIR
Hwy 49, North Gold Country

NEW HOGAN LAKE – Valley Springs, Gold Country

NEW MELONES Reservoir – Angels Camp, Gold Country

NORTH FORK CAMPGROUND
Bass Lake, Sierra National Forest, Yosemite South

NORTH SHORE
Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino National Forest

lakes

OAK KNOLL CAMPGROUND
New Hogan Reservoir, San Andreas, Gold Country

OAK SHORES
Lake Berryessa, RV Camping in Wine Country

OH RIDGE
June Lake, California, Eastern Sierra

June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra
June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra

lakes

PACKER LAKE
North Sierra Nevada, Lakes Basin Recreation Area

  • Berger Campground
  • Packsaddle Campground

PAHA CAMPGROUND
Twin Lakes, Bridgeport CA, Eastern Sierra

PARADISE COVE
Lake Isabella, Kern River California

LAKE PILLSBURY
Mendocino National Forest, N of Ukiah, CA

PINECREST LAKE
Sonora Pass, Hwy 108, Stanislaus National Forest

PINE FLAT RESERVOIR Kings River, Sierra NF

PINE POINT
Shasta Lake, Shasta National Forest

PIONEER POINT
Lake Isabella, Kern River, South Sierra

PROSSER Reservoir –  Truckee Camping w/ OHV Trails

PYRAMID LAKE – North Los Angeles, Interstate 5
(no campground on the lakeshore)

ROUND VALLEY Reservoir
North Sierra @ Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

  • ROUND VALLEY CAMPGROUND

RUCKER LAKE CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

RUTH LAKE –  Mad River, Six River NF NFS

  • FIR COVE CAMPGROUND

lakes

SAGE HILL
Lake Cachuma, Santa Barbara Mountains

SALTON SEA SRA State Park
Salton Sea State Recreation Area, Imperial Valley Desert

SAN LUIS RESERVOIR SRA State Park
Central California, Interstate 5 @ Hwy 152

SARDINE LAKE
Lakes Basin Recreation Area, North Gold Country

SHASTA LAKE – Northern California NFS

SILVER LAKE @ BUCKS
Plumas NF w/ dirt road, Bucks Lake Wilderness & PCT

SILVER LAKE @ CARSON
Carson Pass – Hwy 88, El Dorado NF, Markleeville CA

SILVER LAKE @ JUNE NFS
June Lake Loop – Hwy 158, Eastern Sierra

SILVER LAKE @ LASSEN
Lassn NF, E of Lassen Volcanic National Park

SILVERWOOD LAKE SRA State Park
Cajon Pass, San Bernardino NF, Southern California

SNAG LAKE
North Sierra Nevada, Lakes Basin Recreation Area

SNAKE LAKE CAMPGROUND
Plumas NF, in between Bucks Lake and Quincy, CA

SOUTH SHORE CAMPGROUND
Lower Bear River Reservoir, El Dorado National Forest

SPAULDING LAKE CAMPGROUND
i80 (freeway close) Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

STONY GORGE Reservoir – North Valley

LAKE SUCCESS
Tule River, Porterville, CA

SUGAR PINE POINT SP State Park
Lake Tahoe California, west shore

SUGAR PINE ReservoirNFS
American River, Tahoe National Forest
NE of Foresthill, CA

  • Giant Gap Campground
  • Shirttail Creek Campground
  • Forbes Group Campground

SUGARLOAF RIDGE SP State Park
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Santa Rosa, Wine Country

SUMMIT LAKE – Lassen Volcanic National Park NPS

SUNSET CAMPGROUND NFS
Union Valley Reservoir, El Dorado NF, US Hwy 50

SWEETWATER CAMPGROUND NFS
Mammoth Pool Reservoir, Sierra NF, North Fork CA

Mammoth Pool Reservoir

lakes

TAHOE SRA Campground State Park
Tahoe State Recreation Area, Lake Tahoe California

TANNERY GULCH NFS
Trinity Lake, Shasta Trinity NF

TRIMMER CAMPGROUND NFS
Pine Flat Reservoir, Kings River, Sierra National Forest

Trinity KOA Kampground
Trinity Lake, Hwy 3, Northern California

TRINITY LAKE – Shasta Trinity NF, Weaverville CA NFS

TROUT CREEK CAMPGROUND
Lake Pillsbury, Mendocino National Forest

TRUMBULL LAKE
Virginia Lakes, US Hwy 395, Eastern Sierra

TURLOCK LAKE SRA State Park
Turlock Lake State Recreation Area, Central Valley

TUTTLETOWN RECREATION AREA
New Melones Reservoir, Angels Camp, Gold Country

TWIN LAKES – Eastern Sierra, Bridgeport CA NFS

%

California Elevations

conradkid
High Sierra hiking @ 12,000 feet above sea level

elevation

high altitude towns    well above sea level

The majority of California cities are located near sea level, with low lying farmlands and populated coastlines common throughout world geography. California has super diversity w/ the population, as well as the elevation and the terrain. Vast rugged deserts bordering Nevada, from high deserts (8000′ @ Bodie ghost town) to low deserts (below sea level for Mecca) near the Salton Sea. Towering granite peaks with minimal vegetation, to fern canyons and redwood groves at the coast, California has quite the unique landscape.

The beautiful golden state is also home to the highest and lowest point within the lower 48 states; and those points are only about 100 miles apart – Death Valley  (-282′ elev) and  Mount Whitney  (14,494′ elev).

I-80 Donner PassMTN TOWN: upper elevation mountain towns w/ forests and flowing water, are primarily located in the Sierra Nevada range which runs the backbone of California in a north-south direction,  separating the Pacific Ocean from the Great Basin. High altitudes are abundant in California, especially in the Eastern Sierra – but most are only accessible by foot.

Mountain communities in Southern California includes places like Mount Laguna, Palomar, Big Bear, Arrowhead, Idyllwild and Mount Pinos.

The coastal mountain range and the Sierra Nevada  encompasses most of Central California. The rest of the space is dedicated to large cities, farmlands and farming towns – which are most lower elevation. Orchards and vineyards can be found in the foothills (200′-2000′ elevation)

Northern California has more mountains and rivers, generally higher elevations and plenty more space to explore. Secluded forests, rivers, creeks, lakes, and reservoirs can be found above 2000′ elevation, north of Sacramento. The bigger mountains in the far north part of the state are part of the Cacade Range, which is volcanic in nature. (Mt. Lassen & Mt. Shasta). More water, more trees and more land – NorCal is very different than the lower half of the golden state.

hwy33overlook
North of Ojai, CA – Highway 33 winds up to Los Padres NF

California Elevation Breakdown

  • Alpine lakes, streams, forests, mountain peaks, granite scenery is abundant above 6000′ elev.
  • Pine forests, junipers, sage chaparral, manzanita, joshua trees can be found between 3000-6000′
  • Hot Springs, creek canyons and cottonwoods are usually discovered above 2000′ elev.
  • Oak hills, ghost pines, creek beds, river canyons  and most agriculture range from 1000-3000′
  • Under 1000′ elevation is the majority of the populated cities and towns within California; coastline, urban areas, foothills, farmland and a few reservoirs
Mecca Hills
Mecca Hills, below sea level

GoogleMaps – groundbreaking tool for trip planning and checking out trailheads, camps and dirt roads from overhead

USGS Viewer – topographic overlays for altitude estimates, and various imagery

California Elevations Map

shaverMS

snowflakeSnow is always a factor in mid to high altitude towns with road conditions being unpredictable with each mountain range and each micro-climate. Winter months range from late October to May, so be warned. Above 3000′ elevation usually gets some snow. Serious snow above 5000′. Some High Sierra Passesdon’t open until JULY (Yosemite Hwy 120 & Sonora Hwy 108). Carry tire chains or have 4×4 to travel safely on snowy roads. Guard rails are seldom around every curve.

list of California towns
by elevation

 

Rainbow Lodge California

bishopbelow
Above Owens Valley (US 395) at sunset, as seen from the Sierra side (8000′ elev)

28E201 – Inyo NF

trailsdown

Road #28E201 – Inyo National Forest
also known as Inyo Road #4S86

Laurel Lakes Road
Inyo National Forest
Eastern Sierra, California

Southeast of Mammoth Lakes, CA
West of Crowley Lake, CA

Steep, rocky, gravel road, way up above (and behind) Convict Lake. 4WD may be needed during wet or snowy weather. High clearance is always advised. Locked GATE at the bottom means the NFS rangers have closed the route (seasonally) for deep snow, rock slides, avalanches, or other erosion hazards.

Laurel Canyon, US Hwy 395
Laurel Creek
Laurel Lakes

amigoaspens
Laurel Lake Road, Eastern Sierra

Find more INYO BACK ROADS

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • horseback
  • lakes
  • mountaineering

GenevieveLake

Trailhead to Lake Genevieve (pictured above), hike lake loop, snowy peaks.
NOTE: No easy access to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail)

Laurel Mountain (elev 11,818′)
Bloody Mtn. (12,544′)

oldestrocks

gnarlyrocks
CLICK TO ENLARGE

Geologic:

Oldest, exposed rock in the Sierra Nevada mountains range. Buckling granite w/ volcanic rocks. Evidence of glacial activity including, terminal, lateral, and recessional moraines, glacial striations and polish, erratic boulders, and of course the numerous lakes. see more

Volcanic Eastern Sierra
Volcanic hikes in the Eastern Sierra

4S12 – Inyo NF

rockcreekroad

Rock Creek Road

Rock Creek Lake, Eastern Sierra, California

Inyo Forest Road #4S12
also known as Inyo Road 12, and also Rock Creek Rd.

Majestic mountain scenery. Popular paved route that leads from US 395 up to Rock Creek Lake, on the edge of granite wild lands; lake is situated above 9000′ elevation and the hiker trailheads are further up, beyond the lake at over 10,000 feet. Steep canyon, large canyon, rocky granite canyon, high elevation.

Super scenic drive, but open less than half the year, due to deep snow. Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Inyo National Forest

North of Bishop, CA
South of Mammoth, CA
SW of US Highway 395

hikes horse camp bike

backpacking
camping
fishing
hiking
horseback
trailheads
wilderness

A popular and favorite place for summer camping, fishing and hiking. Backpacking, horse trails, high elevation lakes, mountain passes, peaks, wilderness areas. RV campgrounds, tent camping, car camping. Mountain biking in vast canyon, near campgrounds and creek. No bikes in the Wilderness (up and above Rock Creek)

Autumn colors, aspen groves usually best in early October. Snow closure in winter months (Nov-May).

snowyautumn

elevation 7072′ @ Tom’s Place, CA (US Hwy 395)
elevation 9682′ @ Rock Creek Lake
elevation 10,272′ @ Trailhead Parking (end of road)

UP, UP, HIGHER & AROUND LAKE
One lane, paved route gets narrow, but keeps on climbing. Road #6S05 continues up – past Rock Creek Lake and ends at hiking trailheads, paved parking lot and a few picnic spots.

iris meadow
Iris Meadow Campground NFS

12 NFS Campgrounds in this region, starting with one at the highway, several along the way and the campgrounds at Rock Creek Lake.

No campfires are allowed in this canyon – outside of a developed campground. Not much in the way of primitive car camping options either, except for strapping on a backpack and heading into high elevation wilderness.

rockcreeklake

Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek Campgrounds

Inyo National Forest
John Muir Wilderness

Trailheads along Rock Creek Road #4S12

  • Upper Hilton Lakes
  • Tamarack
  • Lakes Valley (Little Lakes)
  • JMT – John Muir Trail

Rock Creek NFS Hiking Trailheads (download PDF)

Eastern Sierra Maps:
Inyo National Forest Map USDA
John Muir Wilderness Maps
Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo
Mono Divide High Country Map

 

rock creek lake
Rock Creek Lake, first snowfall (Autumn)


looking for another place called ROCK CREEK in California? (we are working on that)

7N83 – Stanislaus NF

whitehorse

Forest Road #7N83 – Clark Fork Rd
Paved spur road, off Highway 108, Sonora Pass

Stanislaus National Forest
Clark Creek, flows west to Middle Fork Stanislaus River
Horse camping, Campground Camping, close to trailheads

NFS Campgrounds on this road:
NFS

Clark Fork Campground
Clark Horse Campground
Sand Flat Campground

Clark Canyon is a popular horse camping area in Stanislaus, located in between 9000′ – 10,000′ elevation peaks. This Sierra Nevada area is known for volcanic features and nice meadows. A small set of (hidden) cabins and pay phone along highway will be the best landmark for identifying the Clark turn off.

Hiking trailheads on this road:

Iceberg Meadow Trailhead
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Area

Forest Road #6N06, a dirt road to higher elevations and primitive camps, is also close by. Traversing up above the Fence Creek Campground (NFS).

Topo Maps of this Region:

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

clarkstrails

Closest towns:

Dardanelle, CA
Pinecrest Lake, CA
Twain Harte, CA

Los Angeles Mountains

LA forest / Los Angeles Mountain / LA National Forest

wrightwood

Los Angeles forest & parks –

San Bernardino National Forest
Angeles National Forest
Los Padres National Forest

Santa Monica Mountains NRA
Malibu Creek State Park
Verdugo Mountains Park
Mount San Jacinto State Park

+ numerous Wilderness Areas

Los Angeles Mountains
Maps & Hiking Trails –

Los Angeles mountain towns –
Big Bear, Angelus Oaks, Arrowhead, Forest Falls, Green Valley Lake, Idyllwild, Wrightwood

Tunnel thru Rock

Angeles Crest Highway
Angeles Crest Highway 2

Dinkey Creek

Dinkey Creek, California

dinky what?

Dinkey Creek California
Dinkey Creek really ain’t all that small is it?

Dinkey Creek elevation 5700′

Dinkey is a major feeder creek originating with high altitude lakes in the Wilderness above, flowing down to the Kings River. Dinkey Creek has a seasonal large campground and a general store that is open during the summer months. Campground Reservation are common since this is a well-known destination of the Western Sierra.

in the mountains above Fresno

Located deep in the Sierra National Forest, 15 miles south of Hwy 168 @ Shaver Lake, via a very long, winding, paved road. Not suitable for large motorhomes.

Dinkey Creek Road becomes McKinley Grove Road @ intersection of historic, wooden Dinkey Creek Bridge. McKinley Grove Rd  leads further south, past Sequoia trees, numerous other NFS campgrounds and on to the 2 big reservoir lakes (Wishon & Courtright). The Dinkey Road is usually only open during warmer months (MAY-OCT), snow & weather permitting.

Dinkey Creek Store

A very popular place for summer vacations, fishing, hiking and picnicking. The day use area near the historic wooden bridge has numerous dirt parking lots, trails, picnic tables and pit toilets. Excellent place for exploring on foot with the family, or creek fishing from the boulders.

mountains backroad horseback trails picnic fishing mountain bike camps hikesnight skiesNFS

wooden bridge
Historic Dinkey Creek Bridge

Dinkey Creek Campground RV camping

  • Elevation: 5,700′
  • Number of Sites: 128
  • Water: piped
  • Toilets: flush
  • Amenities: showers, horse corrals
  • Vehicle Accessibility: 30′ max RV
  • Campsites Reservation: Yes
  • Length of Stay: 14 Days
  • Season: May – September
  • Trailheads: Dinkey Lakes Wilderness

Mckinley Grove intersection

hikesDinkey Lakes Wilderness 

Dinkey Lakes Wildernesstopo mapsDinkey Lake Trail Map

 

 

Back roads are abundant around Dinkey, leading higher up to large, granite reservoirs (with more camping options) and numerous forest dirt roads zig-zag across the mountain terrain wherever possible.

Dusy Ershim Trail is a famous Sierra 4×4 route that connects Courtright Lake to the Kaiser Pass. Granite everywhere, slow-go rock crawling, skirting in between two Wilderness Areas.

Sierra Forest Road #11S12, is a dirt road that leads downhill, past the North Fork of Kings River, from high elevations near Dinkey to the Black Rock Reservoir and meeting up with Kings River near Pine Flat. An excellent loop trip for those wanting to experience dispersed camping on the back roads, but a high-clearance vehicle is required. This road is gated and closed for winter, so call ahead to the rangers, to see if it is open before you make the journey.

Wilderness Wishon California
Wilderness Wishon

This whole Western Sierra is home to major hydroelectric dams that create a water supply for farms and cities located in the Central Valley below.

nearby lakes –


7S02 – San Berdu NF

Fire Safe Trees

Toro Peak
Forest Road# 7S02

Santa Rosa Truck Trail
San Bernardino National Forest

South of Palm Desert, CA
Southeast of Idyllwild, CA
SE of Lake Hemet
Graded dirt road – southbound, off Palms to Pines Hwy 74

7S02 up hill

Road conditions on dirt roads change with the weather and the seasons. This route can be rocky and uneven in spots. One lane road, on a big hill w/ minimal pullouts. Snow is possible, during winter & springtime. This route often closed during winter months – or for rock slides. Trailers and RVs are not recommended on this dirt road, although small motorhome campers can try.

ROUTE CURRENTLY CLOSED? find out on USDA web site link

Elevation approx 6000′ @ HWY
w / route continuing up to Toro Peak @ 8740′NFS

NFS local camp sites: 

  • Santa Rosa Campground
  • Santa Rosa Springs Campground
  • Toro Campground

Bare bones, primitive camp sites. Tables, fire rings. Must have a campfire permit for this region. Vault toilets? None.

toro_campsite

Did I mention the wind yet? Tall trees do block a majority of the wind, but some areas get whipping – so choose your tent site wisely. And stake it down well, before that quick day hike. Since this is a mountain ridge line, expect thunderstorms, wind and possibly light snow.

The big, famous Palm Canyon in Palm Springs starts below. The impressive desert canyon trails lead up to highway 74. Continue on foot uphill, southbound, cross the pavement, and end up in this Toro Peak region. Small campgrounds, few people, great views over the desert. Pick a smog free weekend (with wind) for best Coachella Valley views.

San Berdu Idyllwild SoCal
San Berdu Idyllwild SoCal

Santa Rosa Wilderness

San Bernardino National Forest Map

Yosemite Lakes

yosemite camping lake
Lakes in & around Yosemite

These are picnic lakes, hiking lakes and camping lakes that are located inside Yosemite National Park or the surrounding areas bordering the granite wonderland.

Tioga
Tioga Tent Camping