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

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onion valley trail views

Golden Trout Wilderness

Golden Trout Wilderness Area

granite Upper Kern River is Mount Whitney snow melt

  • 303,511 acres
  • elevation range 1,000′ – ­13,000′
  • pine forest, chaparral
  • granite walls, domes
  • 379 miles of trail
  • summers are busy
  • snow in winter
  • best in early spring
  • wood fires may be restricted
  • portable stoves permitted
  • water plentiful
  • rock climbing & mountaineering
  • fishing
  • backpacking
  • primitive hot springs
  • waterfalls, swimming holes
  • wilderness permits required for overnight
Golden Trout Wilderness surrounds the mighty gorge of the Upper Kern Canyon, south of Mount Whitney.
Inside

TULARE COUNTY

bordering

Inyo National Forest

Sequoia National Forest

Eastern Sierra Interagency Center
760-876-6200

Golden Trout / South Sierra Wilderness Map USDA

Golden Trout Trail Map

Located in the South Sierra Nevada mountains alongside the Southern Sierra Wilderness. Inside the remote rugged peaks of a deep, granite crevasse known as the Upper Kern River with ancient Sequoia forest to the west and to the eats, some of the tallest peaks in the Sierra range. This wild land area is home to the California golden trout and is the main water flow southward from the tallest peak in the lower 48  – Mount Whitney on the Eastern Sierra front.

Sequoia National Forest
Monache Meadows
Inyo National Forest
Mountain Home State Forest
Sequoia National Park
Mineral King

Golden Trout Wilderness

Roads, campgrounds and trailheads surrounding Golden Trout Wilderness

Eastern Sierra –

Horseshoe Meadows Road (paved) leads up to high elevation meadows from the high deserts of Lone Pine, CA. Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) access; Mount Whitney and John Muir Wilderness are to the north. Equestrian corrals and horse trails. Camping is limited to a one night stay at any of the 3 campgrounds up here.

Golden Trout Trailhead Campground: elevation 10,000′ / 12 walk-in sites / closed winter
Horseshoe Meadows Campground: elevation 10,000′ / 18 walk-in sites / closed winter
Cottonwood Equestrian Camp: elevation 10,000′ / 10 horse corrals / closed winter

Forks of  the Kern –

Fork of the Kern / Loyds Meadow Road #22S82 – This main paved road connects the Kern River (Sierra Hwy Road #99) to the lower elevation, granite slopes of the Western Divide, and the route dead ends at Jerky Meadow parking lot. Camp 1-6 are primitive camp areas located on dirt side roads and 4×4 might be required on some of them. Obtain a campfire permit from rangers in Kernville. Fishing, camping, waterfalls and swimming holes are popular in this region. The big developed camp along this road, is located 10 miles up, in a pine filled valley on Peppermint Creek on the west side of the street and is within the Giant Sequoia National Monument.

Lower Peppermint Campground: elevation 5300′ / 17 camp sites / open year round

Lloyd Meadows @ Sequoia Forest Road# 20S67 – is the Forks of the Kern Trailhead & the dirt road that accesses it, is very popular among equestrian campers.

Western Divide Highway –

Road #20S79 leads from Western Divide Hwy to Lewis trailhead.
Road #20S50 leads from Western Divide Hwy to 2 hiking trailheads.

Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers, CA –topo maps

South Fork Road leads up Kaweah River at Southfork trailhead.
Mineral King Road is only open seasonally, access to high country lakes and trailheads.

 

SEQUOIA AREA MAPS –

Golden Trout Wilderness Maps
Sequoia National Forest Map USDA
Inyo National Forest Map USDA
Mineral King Map
Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP Map
NatGeo Sequoia Kings Map

Golden Trout Wilderness trailheads:

east side –
Cottonwood Trailhead (near Lone Pine)
Blackrock Trailhead (Monache Mdws)

south side –
Jerky Trailhead
Forks of the Kern Trailhead
Lewis Camp Trailhead (Western Divide)
Summit Trailhead (Western Divide)
Clicks Creek Trailhead (Western Divide)
Camp Wishon Trailhead (Western Divide)

west side –
South Fork Trailhead (Three Rivers)
Atwell Mill Trailhead (Silver City)
Franklin Pass Trailhead (Mineral King)

List of nearby towns: