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California Meadows

Cherry Mdws

California Meadows

California meadow is a common term people search for when dreaming of their mountain retreat vacation or upcoming weekend camping trip.

Meadows are places in the forest where cool air collects and settles. Deer among other wildlife, can often be found here grazing around dawn and dusk. Alpine meadows are usually surrounded by trees with lush green grasses, located at higher altitudes above 6000′ – the ‘highcountry’ as most like to say.

Find meadows on National Forest lands from 3000-10,000′ elevation, and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing in these same regions. California National Parks have some of the most protected meadows in the golden state!

MT SAGE – mountain sage meadows

High desert mountains have drier landscapes, with large sage brush meadows surrounded by sparse pinon pine and/or juniper forest. The Mojave desert’s sagebrush reaches out westward to the peaks of West Kern County. High deserts and mountain meadows can both have significant wildflower blooms. The deserts start to show color in March & April, while the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada can bloom as late as July & August. All California Wildflowers depend on autumn seasonal rains & snow melt.

Kennedy Meadows from Bald
Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Wilderness Meadows

The best places to find secluded wildflower meadows is on the high country trails of various mountains – Mount Pinos, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, Trinity & Lassen – all have marvelous meadows, some have easy access w/ parking nearby and others are hike-in only. Locate hiking trailheads for meadows and possibly find camp nearby.

Excellent near Meadows:
Stargazing, Wildflowers, Wildlife Viewing, Horse Camping

Explore dirt back roads of California to find your very own meadow. If you would like to explore at this level, a good topo map is highly advised. The Sierra Nevada mountains have the most beautiful meadows in the state (by far). Their scenery w/ granite outcroppings and wild flowers, surpasses all else. Although on rare occasions, even the Antelope Valley can look amazing — with poppies.

Common Wildflowers

BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS

Lupine Drive

Rules of the Meadow

Mountain Meadows are sacred spaces: Do not disturb the lush, grassy landscape, as wildlife rely on these areas for survival.

No driving on meadows. No camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.

4x4Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires across the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading. You’re not spreading the seeds, you’re destroying a fragile ecosystem.

Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas. Fences also help keep the wandering public out of private lands or sensitive areas.

hikerWhen hiking – stay out of the muddy spots and know that if you choose to hike directly across meadow, you may encounter water and deep, sinking mud. HINT: There is usually a shallow creek running through most meadows, during all times of the year.

Winter snow usually blankets these fragile areas in winter, and when deep enough – making this terrain prime destinations for snowmobilers.

Snow Mobiling

highmeadows

meadow views

Big Meadows California

Big Meadow Kern
Big Meadow, Kern Plateau in Sequoia NF

Big Meadows, California

In the mountains numerous places called ‘big meadows’ exist in California. Large meadows, huge meadows, high elevations and low. We are truly blessed by such a natural beauty in our local region. Remember those who have protected the land for future generations.

  • camping
  • picnic
  • grazing
  • hike thru
  • bike around
  • horseback
  • wildflowers
meadowroad
Inyo National Forest – highcountry backroads

For Southern California meadows – Mount Pinos has a large meadow next to the walk-in campground, Chula Vista. San Diego’s Laguna Mountain has some meadows and Big Bear Lake offers sage meadows, on the Fawnskin side.

Wild Meadows range from 3000′ elevation in the foothills, to about 11,000′ elevation in the highcountry. Vacant of trees, these wide open areas are generally colder spots, with moisture and with fragile ecosystems.

Eastern Sierra’s Inyo has gorgeous meadows of lupine wildflower (see above). Cattle grazing and 4×4 roads all over, up to 12,000′. High country mountain peaks surround. That area is called Coyote Flat w/ Coyote Lake. 4WD needed! Winter, snowy and almost inaccessible.

SNOW – Since meadows are generally located in the mountain regions, deep winter snow can make these special places impossible to reach (for about half the year). Summer is the prime time to explore the higher elevations, so plan accordingly.wildflower

WILDFLOWERS – Remember that the higher the elevation, the later the wildflowers will bloom. High Sierra meadows often bloom well into July & August.

AUTUMN COLORS – Aspen groves are often located next to meadows. Fall colors can be quite decent around October, before the first snow fall of the season.

MENDO glade – In the Mendocino National Forest the meadows are called “glades” – and the area has been heavily impacted by wildfire. Snow Mountains Wilderness was totally burnt in the Ranch Fire 2018, the largest wildfire in California history.

NORCAL history – Some Mountain Maidu tribes are known as the “Big Meadow Indians” – they made the Big Meadows of the Upper Feather River their home. Damming the Feather River created Lake Almanor in 1914, which flooded the meadows and forced native people to relocate.

reds meadow
Horse pack station Red’s Meadow, behind Mammoth Mtn. Eastern Sierra

The Big Meadows below are listed from south to north.
Enjoy!

Big Meadow Sequoia, Kern Plateau, off Sherman’s Pass Rd

Big Meadows Road #14S11, Giant Sequoia NM
(in between Kings Canyon NP & Sequoia NP)

Big Meadow Campground, Sequoia, Road #14S11

Big Meadows Campground, Stanislaus NF, near Arnold, CA

Big Meadows Campground, El Dorado National Forest

Big Meadow Campground, Rock Creek Canyon, Eastern Sierra

Big Meadow Campground, Hell Hole Reservoir

Cherry Mdws

Other awesome meadow areas include –

Monache Meadows, near Kennedy Meadows @ PCT
Horse Meadow Campground NFS, Kern Plateau
Dome Land Wilderness – Manter Meadows
Shirley Meadows Road #25S15
Powell Meadow Rd#21S36, Sequoia National Forest
Jerky Meadows – Lloyds Meadow Road #22S82
(primitive camping & trailhead Golden Trout Wilderness)
Jackass Meadow, Sierra National Forest
Horseshoe Meadows Road, Lone Pine, CA
Dinkey Creek Road, Sierra National Forest
Lake Henshaw, N San Diego County
Laguna Meadows, Cleveland NF, San Diego Mountains
Indian Valley – Greenville & Taylorsville, North Sierra
Wildlife viewing @ Eagle Lake – N of Susanville, CA
Grover Hot Springs, Sierra Nevada
Dixie Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
Kingsley Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
Sugarfoot Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
Beasore Meadow, way up behind Bass Lake, CA
Dunderburg Meadow, off Green Creek Road
Butte Meadows – N of Chico, CA
Blue Lakes Road – Sierra Nevada, South of Tahoe

LagunaMdws
Laguna Mdws, Cleveland NF
inyohighroad
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