Hiking Lake

Guide to Hiking Lakes in California

lakes Southern California

This is California – the beautiful, where millions flock on vacation. California is crowded: the population & tourists are only increasing each year. Thousands of people are looking for hiking mountains or better, a hiking lake – each weekend. Many are using the web for destinations, like the research you are doing right now. All folks seeking nature, water, cooler temps, fresh air & views. High Sierra, NorCal, SoCal Reservoirs, we list the best of these hiking lakes below.

Some of the lakes have mountaineering routes nearby; equestrian trails, regular hiking trails, campgrounds, some even have sorta level paved (granny) trails for biking, hiking & skating around.

High elevation or alpine lakes can be accessed best in summer months. Mountain bike, backpack, horseback into these hidden treasures. With any Sierra Nevada destination, snow pack deep can be in certain seasons. Major Highways (Sierra Passes) can be closed into June or July, due to rock slides and late snow melt. Snow shoes, snowmobile or 4×4 vehicles may be needed to reach such lakes, any months OCT-MAY (fall to spring). Winter can come early & stay late at these higher elevations of California; Be prepared for true Wilderness experience.

But maybe you are just looking for some easy hiking, loop trails & picnic spots; Or perhaps an overnight stay near a lakeside camp w/ kayak rentals. California reservoirs to alpine lakes, we have a wide variety listed below.

This page contains links to some favorite lakes with hiking trails around the lake, along the shoreline or routes on ridge lines overlooking the lake. If no good lake page could be found, we’ve linked to some photos of the lake on Flickr.

Baja California:

SoCal:

Central California / Sierra Nevada:

NorCal:

Blackrock Reservoir in Sierra Nevada

Blackrock Reservoir in Sierra Nevada

Lakes California Map: check out all the maps we have for lakes in Cali

Green Creek Road

Mono County Wildlife Area

Mono County Wildlife Area, Green Creek Road- off Hwy 395, near Bodie

Green Creek California

Eastern Sierra

S of Bridgeport, CA
MONO – Road #142NFS

Toiyabe National Forest
Bridgeport Ranger District

If you are thinking about fishing or camping the Eastern Sierra, North of Bishop & you are not up for the crowds at Mammoth or June Lakes, then try the Bridgeport area, north on Hwy 395. Rural ranch lands along main road, Bodie ghost town turn off across the highway and Virginia Creek Settlement are also nearby

Green Creek is a 11 mile long dirt road in the lush Eastern Sierra the northern portion. The wide, graded dirt road is signed and dead ends at a Toiyabe National Forest campground called Green Creek Campground. The drive up can be washboard bumpy in some parts, but that doesn’t stop the hundreds of adventurous motorhomes that make this trek annually. This place features some of the best prime Sierra back roads camping options for RVs.

Another dirt route, Dunderberg Meadow Road peels off to the left. Dunderberg departs  off Green Creek a couple of miles from the highway and well maintained. This route leads to meadows, aspens, picture perfect scenery and much more seclusion. Passenger car accessible, wide graded dirt roads to wilderness edges. Two-track one lane trails lead to meadow edges and more creeks. Very impressive views of the Sierra peaks over here on this side. Meadows are sensitive areas, wonderful for picnics and you should always minimize impact.

State Park California

Green Creek Wildlife Area
Mono County, California

Aspen Grove Camping for RVs

  • alpine lakes
  • backpacking
  • bird watching
  • camping
  • creeks
  • day hikes
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • horseback
  • hunting
  • mountain biking
  • wildlife
  • wilderness

Plain old passenger cars can easily make this route deep into the Eastern Sierra aspen canyon. Graded dirt and4x4 could be needed winter months. Backpackers can enjoy easy access to the Hoover Wilderness trailheads. There is plenty semi-primitive camping spots along the way, right on the creek, for free…. so no need to sleep in your vehicle upon arrival.

Autumn Aspen Groves: fall colors peak in October, which is usually when the first snows for the winter season start. November – usually the freeze gets them and lifeless brown leaves dangle, until the Sierra Nevada wind gust blow real good.

camp

Green Creek Camping

DIRT ROAD CAMPING

  • alpine lakes
  • backpacking
  • car camping
  • day hikes
  • fishing camping
  • meadows
  • RV camping
  • tent camping

Hoover Wilderness

Dispersed, primitive camp spots along this main dirt road are on a first come basis. You’ll need a fire permit. Many flat camps are set along the creek in aspen groves, some pines, others have  cubby hole privacy. Large granite valley, big creek, bird, scenery and nature everywhere.  Some folks spend weeks camping out here in the warm weather months. Fishing is a big attraction.

Old Cabin in autumn leaves, up near the top of the dirt road deep in the aspen grovesNFS

Green Creek Campground USFS
7500 elevation
11 camp sites
fee, open May – October
trailhead parking nearby

hiking trails lead to

hikes

TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS:

Aspen Camp

El Dorado Camping

Primitive Camping in El Dorado County

Camping Rivers

More & more people are venturing off the beaten touristy path of Gold Country. Getting outta the developed campgrounds to discover the joys of dispersed back woods camping is a new adventure, not to be taken lightly.

With truck or SUV ownership come some great rewards! Order a good map & go find some dirt roads. Waterfalls, dense forests, secluded creekside camp sites & more await you. Obtaining a camp fire permit is mandatory for this style of camping.

Campfires are often banned in California, due to extreme wildfire danger. Since the gold mining foothills are usually oak and dry grass, with large steep river canyons, extra caution should be given. Always know the fire conditions before you build a campfire. Caldor Camping

Discover the hidden back roads: like Caldor Road off of Grizzly Flat Rd. – up above Placerville CA

Hey, now this is what we’re talking about. Plenty great dispersed camping down by the Cosumnes River & Consumnes Mine Rd. There are hundreds of miles of small roads to discover back behind this historic mining area. Rivers, waterfalls & decent fishing too. Make sure you clean up some litter. This is the only price you pay for the beauty, serenity, peace & quiet & no neighbor campers next to you.

Out exploring these parts, you may run into a dead end road that peters out at some Private Property, which is usually signed & fenced. Make nice with the old crazy miner dude & turn your ass around politely, everything will be okay as soon as you are not within gun shot of him. Yes, there still are plenty of small time mining experts tucked away back here in the hills.

river camping
Premium and secluded river side camp sites in El Dorado National Forest

Plenty creeks and rivers run throughout this central Sierra region, so you can fish all day – until your hearts desire. River rafting and river kayaking opportunities are also great reasons to get wet.

Several mountain reservoirs around offer camping and boating too. Eldorado lakes are listed below.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

  • Caples Lake @ Carson Pass
  • Ice House Reservoir
  • Jenkinson Lake – US Hwy 50
  • Kirkwood Lake
  • Lower Bear River Res. – South Shore Campground
  • Salt Springs Reservoir
  • Silver Lake @ Carson Pass
  • Union Valley Reservoir
  • nearby towns –

    El Dorado Forest Maps –

    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

    Mill Creek California

    free river camp sites

    Mill Creek w/ Lassen Peaks (July 2011)

    Numerous Mill Creeks exist in the golden state of California. Here we will try to list the most well known ones, some with campgrounds and others without.

    LASSEN NF

    The well-known Mill Creek, is the one south of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

    MILL CREEK, CA

    Small mountain resort in the forest near Mill Creek, with cabin rentals and campgrounds nearby.

    Mill Creek Indians: Described as a group of ‘renegade and outlaws’, from multiple tribes in NorCal. Mill Creek Indians took shelter in the secluded the secluded Mill Creek gorge, located below the Mill Creek Rim, a volcanic ridge which extends from Mount Lassen to the Sacramento River Valley

    KLAMATH NF

    Mill Creek inside the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

    • Mill Creek Ponds Trailhead – Mill Creek Ponds Trail
    • Etna Mill Creek Trailhead – Etna Mill Creek Trail
      (Pacific Crest Trail access)

    PCT

    PLUMAS NF

    Mill Creek @ Bucks

    Mill Creek @ Bucks

    The Bucks Lake Wilderness region also has a developed NFS Mill Creek Campground. The camp location is well off the Bucks Lake Road, tucked deep in a tight canyon; northern most point and near a dam for the large Bucks Lake.

    elevation = 5200′

    • 10 camp sites
    • fee
    • closed in winter
    • 14 night camp limit
    • RV = 21′ max
    • pit toilets
    • picnic tables
    • camp fire rings

    Bucklin Road (aka Bucklin Dam Rd and Road 33) #24N24 a paved road on the west end of Bucks Lake, connects to Road #24N88X which leads back to this smaller campground; camp sites are paved. Steep driveway down.

    This Mill Creek intersects Bucks Lake at the campground, then connects to the PCT hiking trail, although the narrow dirt road #24N88X veers away from creek a few miles up.

    SIERRA NF

    SEQUOIA NF

    This Mill Creek is located on the south shore of the lower Kings River, above Pine Flat Reservoir. This is the boundary where Sequoia NF meets the big river, and on the other side of the water is the Sierra NF.

    Mill Flat Campground (also known as Mill Creek Camp) is a small campground on a dirt road, located right at the rocky rivers edge.

    kings river view

    As usual – the further you drive, the more seclusion you will find. This observation holds true for this Mill Creek location. During peak summer months, there may be families enjoying this spot, but most of the year it is virtually empty and rarely used.

    Oak foothills, canyons, granite rocks, wildflowers. Fishing, camping, hiking, rafting, kayaking.

    No cell phone coverage back in this deep canyon.

    NFS Mill Flat Campground @ Lower Kings River

    elevation = 1167′

    • 5 camp sites
    • free, no charge
    • open year round
    • 14 night camp limit
    • RV = 25′ max
    • pit toilets
    • picnic tables
    • camp fire rings

    kings tables

    campground mill creek

    Mill Flat Kings River

    Mill Flat Kings River