Gold Lake California

lilgoldlake

Hike-in only Gold Lake, Bucks Lake Wilderness.

California has more than one Gold Lake!

goldsign

Gold Lake, CA

(Sierra Co)
6409′ elev.

The biggest Gold Lake, California is the well-known one, along the Gold Lake Highway in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. Plumas meets Tahoe National Forest. North of Gold Country Hwy 49, Downieville & the Yuba River. Right where the Sierra Nevada granite meets the volcanic lava rock of NorCal.

Packer Lake

Lakes Wilderness Map

Impressive jagged spires known as The Sierra Buttes (8591′) tower above the stunning lake scenery. This big Gold Lake is surrounded by a dozen smaller alpine lakes which make up the popular region called Lakes Basin. Easy access paved highway, which closes in winter for deep snow and winter recreation. The Gold Lake Highway is also referred to as Plumas County Road #S620

sierra buttes

the sierra buttes

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout lodgeranger rentals
NFS fire tower – overnight rental overlooking the Sierra Buttes and the serene Lakes Basin, Yuba River, Northern Gold Country CaliforniaUSFS

LAKES BASIN RECREATION AREA:
Cabins, camping, lake fishing, backpacking, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, off-roading, snow-mobiling.

lakesbasinhikers

California Lakes

mini gold lake

 

Mini Gold Lake

(Plumas Co)
6000′ elev.

Another smaller Gold Lake exist on the granite slopes in Bucks Lake Wilderness – E of Oroville & W of Quincy, CA.

gold lake trailheadThis hidden gem is a hike-in only lake – and well worth the effort. A somewhat short hike, great ridge line views to the east, although the last half mile of this route is a doozie (moderately strenuous).

The main trailhead departs from Silver Lake and climbs a ridge line that heads over to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). An off-shoot trail goes another mile to the miniature Gold Lake, a granite bowl of sheer beauty. A great day hike for those wishing to see the backcountry. Pack your picnic lunch, camera, and make a whole darn day of it!

Swimming & skinning dipping seem quite natural at this alpine lake, since it is a pretty remote location (without a lot of visitors) and there is absolutely no swimming allowed at neighboring Silver Lake.

bucks trailhead

The steep, overgrown, rocky shoreline leads one to bush whack through old trails, only to be met by a rock slide. Many dead ends and obstacles to climb around, or over. Some way… maybe, or maybe not!

Boulder and rock scrambling is the key phrase to remember, once you reach this lake. Knees may be sore from climbing, up and over the boulder ledge surrounding the lake bowl.

goldshore

Bucks Lake Wilderness Map

A few primitive camp sites are scattered about on the edge of the lake for those backpacking in, but be warned – they can be very difficult to reach. Much more suitable campsites can be found scattered throughout the area.

Warning: there are no flat, lush meadows to lounge in up at the lake, so pick yourself a side route (on the walk in) to find real seclusion and privacy.

view to Quincy

This mile-long-ridge hiking trail to mini Gold Lake has some amazing views down to the east side – Jacks Meadow right below; then Meadow Valley & Quincy off in the distant hills. Plumas County from above.

jacks meadow

jacks meadow, way below

Sierra Nevada Lakes

High Sierra, California

hike-in only lakes

hike

Golden Bear Lake
(Tulare Co)
12,000′ elev

High Sierra – Kings Canyon National Park
Center Basin / Center Peak 12,760′
PCT – Pacific Crest Trail
North of Mount Whitney
Eastern Sierra, Independence, CA

hike

Golden Trout Lake
(Inyo Co)
11,500′ elev

Trail #3306 from Onion Valley Campground
North of Mount Whitney
Eastern Sierra, Independence, CA

goldentroutlakecanyon

onion valley trail views

Camping for Thanksgiving

Turkey Casserole

Turkey Leftovers?

California Camping on Thanksgiving

If you’ve had it with the traditions, the big meal prep, or just sick of the family. Maybe you are a solo traveler, or a new transplant to California and need to explore more. Take a holiday away – for once this time.

Camping for turkey day? What a concept.

VWBus Death Valley
California is the perfect place for camping, all year long!

Stick to the lower elevations, look for canyons, and seek seclusion


California mountains often have snow during November. Avoid camping in snow @ 4000-5000′ elevation and above; Freezing temps above 3000-4000′ elevation.

Deserts, coastal regions and foothills are top choices for late Autumn car camping. Always check the weather ahead of departure, and have a plan B as an alternative. NorCal will be much wetter than the rest of the state.

MEALS: Prepare dinner meals ahead of trip departure. Bake turkey days before your trip and create meals based around that. Make mash potatoes at home and don’t forget to bring the butter. Pack pre-baked turkey for sandwiches, plus other quick snacks & meals for on-the-go travel.

seafood

Non Traditional: Seafood Feast

Desert Camping is premium at this time of year. Luckily the eastern half of Southern Cal is desert. The lower the elevation, the better the temps will be overnight. Be prepared for wind when the ‘storm fronts’ approach, the winds do get a cranking! Dirt roads can become flowing washes during a good rainstorm, so know the weather forecast.

Coastal campgrounds may need advanced reservations. Be prepared for wet weather, especially up north. The redwoods groves are gorgeous anytime of year.

Gold County Reservoirs are prime areas for relaxing in nature, while everyone else is out shopping. Oak hills, rivers and canyons. RV campers love these large lakes; boating, fishing, mountain biking trails, kayak rentals, hiking near historic Gold Rush towns.

River Canyons of California are always beautiful destinations in the autumn months. Many campgrounds can be found at lower elevation, river access areas. California’s abundant Hot Springs are also top picks for holiday weekends.

Joshua Tree Campout

Joshua Tree National Park may be busy during this weekend. Instead try nearby Mecca: Box Canyon and Mecca Hills Wilderness, BLM desert lands near Interstate 10.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is always a nice, easy and relatively close get-away for any holiday. Open camping on the backroads (for free) makes it one of the most attractive camping options in all of SoCal. Many dirt roads are accessible for passenger cars, if extreme caution is used. Don’t plan on driving more than a few miles on dirt.

Masses of off roaders love to camp out, especially on Thanksgiving weekend. Wheel all day, eat, drink, bon fires every night and rumor has it ‘they roast their big bird outdoors – deep in a dirt pit’. Really? El Centro, Glamis, Imperial Dunes, Ocotillo Wells, Truckhaven Hills, Johnson Valley. All popular off roading areas in Southern California, so consider yourself warned.

Imperial Dunes

Mojave Desert, near US Hwy 395
Jawbone Canyon expect to see RVs, toy-boxes and families outside enjoying the weekend. OHV style. Often the group tries to create a round corral with their huge convoy of vehicles, to keep thru traffic to a minimum around “their camp”. Just stay well away from those gear-heads. In general, it is a very busy area around Mojave up to Hwy 178 during the holidays. Try high desert Horse Canyon instead.

Tent Camping

ghost towns
meteor showers
hot springs

Death Valley National Park is one of the best destinations for Thanksgiving, cuz Panamint Springs serves their free turkey dinner.

Did someone say FREE?

Leon at Mahogany

Autumn Camping California

Autumn Lakeside

RV camping Tent Camp Fishing Hiking

Amazing autumn colors can be found through OCTOBER and NOVEMBER in California, but you’ll need to leave the city in order to find the very best colors and scenic beauty. Fall season happens quickly (weeks) in the high country and slower (months) in the lowlands. Plenty canyons and parks in the urban centers have hiking trails thru some nice trees, but nothing compares to the backroads, creeks and rivers of the big mountains.

Elevations, the higher the better, is where you find the real displays of color. Aspen groves can be found along mountain slopes, creek canyons from 5000′-10,000′ in elevation. Cottonwood trees are found in the drier regions, in ranching areas and in desert canyons – up to about 6000′ elevation. Aspen trees start to turn yellow as soon as the chill of nights drop; if the temperature shift is subtle, the aspen leaves become more orange as the days go into the fall season. If an early snow or freeze happens, just one night, the glorious foliage becomes dead brown crispies dangling in the wind.

Campfires
CAMPFIRE RESTRICTIONS can still be in place from the dry summer, but any decent amount of rain can change the status, so make sure to check with the rangers for up-to-date fire info.

Tent Camp

BOOK CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

Southern California

has minimal fall colors.

Big Bear Lake, CA
Lake Arrowhead, CA

Ojai Camping – Wheeler Gorge
Sespe Hot Springs (hike-in access only)

Camping

Southern and Central Sierra

have a few aspen groves and several cottonwood canyons.

Kern River Canyon

Ponderosa, CA
Quaking Aspen Campground Tent Camp
Quaking Aspen CabinTent Camp
Giant Sequoia National Monument

Wishon Reservoir
Lily Pad Campground

Kirkwood, CA
Blue Lakes Road
Carson Pass CA Highway 88

Camping

Northern Sierra

primarily has the big river canyons, most of which have fall colors. Yuba River, Feather Rivers.

Downieville, CA
Yuba River Campgrounds

Hope Valley, CA
Hope Valley Campground Tent Camp

Lake Tahoe

Bucks Lake, CA
Haskins Valley @ Grizzly Campground
Oro-Quincy Highway – Plumas NF

Camping

Autumn Bliss Hike

Eastern Sierra

is the ‘place to be’ for Autumn Colors in California. The dramatic desert meets the tallest granite peaks. Every canyon is a different scene, some have small lakes lined with aspen groves, some have a creek with aspens.

Aspendell, CA
North Lake Campground
Lake Sabrina Road
Bishop Pass (high country hikes)

sabrina creeking

Bishop, CA
Bishop Creek, Hwy 168
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest – both Silver Canyon and
Cottonwood Creek have aspen trees. (both are 4×4 roads)

Bridgeport, CA
Green Creek Road w/ signage for
Dunderburg Meadow
Twin Lakes
Hoover Wilderness (high country hikes)

Independence, CA
Onion Valley CampgroundTent Camp
Kearsarge Pass (high country hikes)

June Lake, CA
June Lake Loop / Hwy 158
Parker Lake (dirt road to primitive camps)
June Lake CampgroundTent Camp
Oh Ridge CampgroundTent Camp
Reversed Creek CampgroundTent Camp

Lee Vining, CA
Lee Vining Canyon / Hwy 120
One of the biggest aspen grove canyons in the state.
NFS campgrounds
NFS Campgrounds in Lee Vining Canyon: Big Bend, Aspen Grove, Boulder, Moraine, and Cattleguard Campground.
NFS Camps @ Yosemite’s EAST GATE (9000′ elev): Ellery Lake, Junction, Saddlebag Lake, and Sawmill Campground.

Lundy Lake
Virginia Lakes
Trumbull CampgroundTent Camp

Lone Pine, CA
Alabama Hills has a few cottonwoods in the canyon.
Whitney Portal has only a few aspens.

Mammoth Lakes, CA
Red’s Meadow Campground
Laurel Lakes Road (dirt road, rough)
Convict Lake

Tom’s Place, CA
McGee Creek Campground Tent Camp

Rockcreek Road
Impressive Rock Creek Road in Rock Creek Canyon, one of the very best “Autumn Drives” in the Eastern Sierra.

Rock Creek Lake Campground @ 9600′ elev Tent Camp

Iris Meadow Campground @ 8600′ elev

iris meadow

Iris Meadow on Rock Creek Rd

Camping

Northern California

(this part under construction)

Sundial Bridge,
River RV Parks
Redding, CA

Weaverville, CA

Mount Shasta, CA
(downtown of Mt. Shasta)

McBride Springs Campground
(slopes of Mount Shasta)

Lake Siskiyou
Beach Camp Resort & RV Park

4239 W. A. Barr Rd
Mount Shasta CA
530 926-2610

McCloud, CA
McCloud Falls

MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park
Dusty Campground

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen National Forest
Lassen Camping
Lassen Lakes

Susanville, CA
Bizz Johnson Trail
Roxie Peconom Campground

Modoc National Forest (coming soon)

Siskiyou Autumn Colors (coming soon)

Sardine Lake California

Sardine Lake California Camping

Lakes Basin California, Northern Sierra

Lakes Basin Recreation Area

The granite spires of the Sierra Buttes (8591′) tower above both Upper & Lower Sardine, making for a glorious backdrop to these two lakes. This is a popular fishing lake with no swimming allowed. The water is so clear that at noon you can see to the bottom!

There are numerous, super-scenic, small lakes in this region and one trip here is not nearly enough. Total Escape rates this collection of small lakes up there w/ the ‘best hiking lakes’ in California. The Pacific Crest Trail runs through this awesome lakes area, which is located north of Truckee, east of Downieville.

backpacking
boating
camping
canoeing
fine dining
fishing
hiking
granite peaks
kayaking
mountain biking
off-roading
stargazing
waterfalls
wildflowers

snowmelt lake snowmelt lake snowmelt lake
high elevation means snow

Plumas Co Road #24 is the Gold Lake Road, also referred to as the Gold Lake Highway – which skirts the lakes, the buttes and connects Historic Gold Country Hwy 49 to Graeagle Golfing @ Hwy 89. SNOW CLOSES THIS ROAD, but the area remains open for winter recreation.

SARDINE LAKE ROAD, a paved turn off the main road. NFS Campground is located one mile from the shore at Lower Sardine. Sardine Lake Resort rents cabins and the restaurant serves dinners w/ lake view!

fishing lake Gold Country Lake hiking trailheads National Forest Service Developed Campground

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

Sardine Lake Campground

• Elevation: 5800′
• Number of Sites: 29
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′
• Campsites Reservation: Yes
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Facilities: piped water, vault toilet
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: June – October
• Trailheads: Sierra Buttes & PCT

sardine campground sign

National Forest Service Rangers Quarters

Sardine Peak Lookout
SARDINE PEAK FIRE TOWER LOOKOUT (NFS)
RESERVE a historic fire lookout tower, built in 1935. A three story enclosed tower with external stairs. (elevation 8138′)

panoramic

Upper Sardine Lake California

Upper Sardine Lake: Takes only a short hike to get to. This is a pure glacial bowl; the rock plunges straight into the water, no beach at all. Great fishing; ice-cold swimming.

local contacts for this lake:

Sardine Lake Resort
530-862-1196

Row boat rentals on Sardine Lake
530-862-1196

Canoes rentals on nearby Packer Lake
530-862-1221

Plumas County Visitors Bureau:
800-326-2247

Plumas National Forest Rangers:
530-862-1368

Sierra County Visitors Bureau:
800-200-4949

nearby towns:
Downieville, CA
Graeagle, CA
Sierra City, CA

nearby lakes:
Gold Lake
Sand Pond
Packer Lake

maps of the region:
Lakes Basin Map USDA
NatGeo Sierra Buttes Map
Plumas National Forest Map
Tahoe National Forest Map

Lundy Lake California

Lunar Lundy Lake

Eastern Sierra
Lundy Lake

Lundy Canyon is located at the very northern boundaries of the Inyo National Forest, bordering the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest & Virginia Lakes. Mill Creek flows down Lundy Canyon from the Sierra Nevada; Lundy is a small lake in a deep, rugged canyon with wilderness trailheads, East of Yosemite National Park.

Lundy Lake
West of Mono Lake, California
Lee Vining, CA

elevation: 7800′
Seasonal access, closed for winter

backpack, camp, canoe, fish, hike, kayak
aspen groves, autumn colors
wildflowers, waterfalls

Frozen Edge

campgrounds

Lundy Campgrounds

camping

Lundy Canyon Campground
Mono County Dept of Public Works
760-932-5440

36 camp sites w/ picnic tables, fire-rings & bear boxes

camping

Lundy Lake Resort
Bait, tackle, general store, fishing lake, boat ramp.
626-309-0415

21 camp sites, 8 cabins, 3 camp huts, 5 RV camp sites

camping

National Forests [No NFS Campground in this canyon, but plenty can be found nearby at Lee Vining Canyon]

Lakes Canyon Trailhead Backpackers & Horse Packer Trains have excellent access to the Hoover Wilderness in the High Sierras. Plus this prime Lundy Canyon location is situated at the back door of Yosemite NP.

Mono County Tourism
800-845-7922

Reflections

Lundy Area Maps:
Hoover Wilderness Trail Map (Tom Harrison)
Inyo National Forest Map (USDA)
Yosemite High Country Map (Tom Harrison)


View Larger Map

Links for Lundy Canyon:

  • Hoover Wilderness
  • Inyo National Forest
  • Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest
  • Lundy Ghost Town
  • Wiki on Lundy, California
  • Fishing Lundy Canyon
  • Hiking Lundy Canyon Trail
  • Lundy Lake Road
    Lundy Lake Rd, the paved road up climbs the steep canyon to an elevation of over 7500′