Smith Lake California

Smith Lakes in California

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Lakes Basin Recreation Area has two different spots named SMITH LAKE. This region is in the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains, near Downieville, at the north end of the California Gold Country @ Highway 49.

smithlake

Smith Lake hiking trail can be accessed from the Gray Eagle Lodge area along Gold Lake Highway; or this hiking lake can also be accessed from a park on the north side. Plumas Eureka State Park, via the Jameson Creek trail.

mikeatsmiths

Lakes Basin also has a small set of two lakes called “Smith Lakes” – located on Smith Creek. Way back behind the larger, most famous Gold Lake.

4×4 Road #11E71 will lead you to this remote destination, with the proper vehicle, of course. Creek crossings and large rocks; A quality topographic map and a 4 wheel drive rig is needed for this adventure.

nicemeadows
Lakes Basin Recreation Area

North Sierra mountains, Sierra granite meets Cascade volcanic rock. Border of State Park & NFS lands

Lakes Basin California

nearby towns:

lakes basin views

Sierra NF – Road #9

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Sierra National Forest
Big Creek Road #9

aka. Rd #10S69

Connects Pine Flat Reservoir @ Lower Kings River, to upper elevation Sierra forests near Dinkey Creek Road. McKinley Grove of Sequoia

Sierra Road number 9 is a north turn off of Trimmer Springs Road. Marked as National Forest Rd #10S69, as well as just plain NINE. Big Crk. canyon is after the Maxson Road junction, and before the Balch Camp / Blackrock Reservoir turn off on #11S12. The area is known for abundant wildflowers in the early season.

dirt road climbs 25+ miles thru Sierra NF

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  • back road exploring
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • hunting
  • kayaking
  • picnic areas
  • swimming
  • wildflowers
Tall White Lupine

Tall White Lupine

Big Creek Rd 9

A popular dirt road drive for the western Sierra – Pine Flat Lake region. A forested, south facing canyon in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Big Creek, wide, graded, dirt road w/ primitive camp sites. 4×4 could be needed in wetter months.

The higher you go on this route, the more pine trees you will experience. Winter weather can close this route. A campfire permit is required to camp along this road.

The lower part of the canyon has rock features, small waterfalls, swimming holes, picnic spots and sometimes cattle grazing. Several prime unmarked, primitive camp sites along this road – but few and far between. High clearance or 4WD may be needed, depending on road conditions.

sierra hiker

Soaproot Saddle Road is a not-so-obvious left fork (dirt, without signs) that leads steeply up away from main road. Climbs a steep hillside, way up above and along Rush Creek; continues for many miles. Less people back this way, if you are seeking seclusion. Few primitive camp sites on right side of road, near where the creek breaks away from road. Good for stargazing way back here. 4×4 may be needed. Road may or may not connect through to desired destination.

The mid-route climbs into pine forest and the dirt road switchbacks, steeply, with a few more camp sites available; usually found on short side roads off the main road.

sierra creek camps

At Sierra #9, a major junction w/ dirt road #10S69, called Dinkey Trimmer Road. This leads way off through the rugged terrain, many miles, over to the pavement at Dinkey Creek Jct – Campground, Trailhead and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness.

Big Creek will turn left (north), and follows the large Big Creek Canyon. Several steep miles climb up into the dense pine forest, following the creek the whole way. Several prime creekside camp sites fill up fast in this stretch. Great views, steep dirt roads. GPS waypoint these camp driveways – so you can find it next time, (first, before everyone) on Friday, Thursday before midnight.

Peterson Mill Road is Rd #10S02, found on the left (west) side of Sierra #9. That westbound route becomes pavement half way back to Highway 168. This way is the quickest way from Fresno, out to the developed NFS Bretz Campground.

Sierra #9 Big Creek Road arrives in the densest of forests. Many camp sites and side routes to explore. Dark, upper elevations, snow lingers long in the shade. 4WD may be needed in wet areas. Mud is quite common MOST of the year in this spot, so know your vehicles capabilities before you get yourself stuck (or stranded). It’s a very long walk to any kinda civilization!

Hunters like to use these upper camps during hunting season. A camp fire permit is required, so bring your shovel and bucket; self-sufficient campers enjoy the back roads most often.

wild sierra flora

Bretz Campground NFS is up here on the main road, number nine. Clock it w/ dash trip meter; 15 miles from the road start @ Pine Flat Lake. Popular with OHV and 4×4 groups. Max RV or trailer length = 24′
Open all year long; No fee.

Sierra Forest Road #9 the far north end, enters Blue Canyon @ #10S18, but the Rd #9 route continues NE as Providence Creek Road. Eventually intersecting @ Dinkey Creek Rd w/ Rock Creek & Dinkey Dome closeby. Great granite 4×4 Trail @ Bald Mountain (elev. 7832′) overlooking Shaver Lake.

Jeepers on granite @ Bald Mtn, above Shaver Lake, CA

Kings River Camping

2 tone lupine

SIERRA MAP
sierra National Forest map

places nearby –
shaver lake map

Balch Camp (utility & NFS)
Black Rock Reservoir
Courtright Reservoir
Dinkey Creek
Huntington Lake
Lakeshore, CA
Pine Flat Lake
Shaver Lake, CA
Trimmer Springs
Wishon Reservoir

Lake Kaweah

wildflowers

Sequoia Foothills Reservoir, CA SR 198
Kaweah Lake

Southern Sierra lake located on Kaweah River, near the mouth of Mineral King Canyon. In between the western Sierra foothills and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley. West of Sequoia NP, east of Visalia, California.

Crystal Cave
Mineral King
Sequoia National Park
Three Rivers
Visalia

The small town of Three Rivers is just up the road from this small reservoir & their slogan is the ‘southern gateway’ to the Sequoia National Park.

There are several recreational reservoirs that are situated at the base of the Sierras, along the western slopes. The Kaweah River transports snowmelt deep from the Sierra Nevada mountains, down to the San Joaquin Valley (Central Valley), for human consumption, households, and agriculture.

Lake Kaweah California

elevation: 1945′
surface area: 1200′
vegetation: minimal trees, scrub oak, wildflower foothills

fishing –

  • bass
  • bluegill
  • catfish
  • crappie
  • trout
  • recreation –

  • backpack
  • bike
  • boat
  • camp
  • canoe
  • hike
  • houseboat
  • kayak
  • sail
  • swim
  • waterski
  • CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    Horse Creek Recreation Area
    Horse Creek Campground
    76 camp sites

    Kaweah Rentals

    Kaweah Marina has patio boats, fishing boats, and paddle boards available for rent. Reservations are needed in summer for weekends and holidays. 559-597-2526

    Kaweah Houseboats

    Privately owned house-boats can be seen on this lake, although none are available at the marina for rent. Some can usually be found for sale on visalia.craigslist.org

    Weather: Lake Kaweah Dam

    US Army Corps of Engineers
    PO Box 44270
    34443 Sierra Drive
    Lemon Cove, CA 93244
    559-597-2301

    Gateway

    Sequoia Highway 198 has many side routes worth exploring: Mineral King Road will get you to amazing scenery, but there ARE NOT ANY Sequoia groves up that way; Crystal Cave, open for tours is located near the south entrance of the National Park; and a lesser known campground in this area is called South Fork, off on a residential side route canyon – South Fork Drive (Road #348); Located on the quiet South Fork of the Kaweah River.

    Sequoia Maps:

  • Mineral King Map
  • Golden Trout South Sierra Map
  • Golden Trout Trail Map
  • Kings Canyon High Country
  • Sequoia Kings Canyon NatGeo
  • Sequoia Kings Canyon NP Map
  • Sequoia National Forest Map
  • Sequoia Atlas

    1933 River Kaweah
    Three Rivers is small community located along the Kaweah River.

    North Fork Drive: North Fork of the Kaweah River is a seldom traveled dirt back road that leads from the east side of the lake @ Hwy 198, northbound (along the North Fork of Kaweah River), straight into the backdoor of Sequoia National Park’s ridge line highway @ Dorst Campground. The original town of Kaweah (elev 960′) is along this route. Many small dirt roads to explore up this way and a good topo map is advised.

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    Eshom Campground (on western border of NP), a small slice of Giant Sequoia National Monument land, Redwood Creek and a trailhead called Redwood Saddle are all back up in here. Have a few good maps to cross-reference while traveling back roads and trails. This major dirt route is often closed and gated by the rangers during wet, winter months.

    Kaweah River Sequoia

    nearby destinations:
    Lemon Cove, CA
    Mineral King, CA
    Sequoia National Park
    Three Rivers, CA

    lake_kaweah

  • 1S23 – Inyo NF

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    Inyo Forest Rd #1S23

    Walker Lake & Mono Pass
    Bloody Canyon Trailhead

    North of June Lake Loop, off of Road #1N17

    also known as Little Walker Lake trailhead

    1 mile walk downhill to Walker Lake; very steep trail with 800′ elevation decent.
    Vault toilet & one campsite at parking lot.

    trailheadcamp

    Trailhead camp for backpackers who arrive late. Nearby Parker Creek offers more in the line of free camping, more creeks, private setting.

    Slim pickins on campsites, means have a plan B or C ready in case these few ideal canyons are full. Minimal camping spots, down on the main drag Road #1N17

    Bloody Canyon leads further up the steep ravine to Upper & Lower Sardine Lakes.

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    Walker TH

    Bohler Canyon near #1S19 (locked gate)
    private property along some portion of this lake, so be aware of signage

    1S63 – Inyo NF

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    June Lake Loop – Hwy 158

    also known as Road #1S63 – Inyo NF
    and as California State Route 158
    CA SR 158, or just Highway 158

    Eastern Sierra Nevada

    The quieter side of outdoor life can be found around June Lake. Fishing, camping, cabins, lodging, several lakes and one ski resort. When the busy-ness and crowds of Mammoth Mountain annoy, it is time to look elsewhere for your Eastern Sierra vacation.

    June Lake is the neighboring community to the north, just a few miles from Mammoth, off US 395. The paved loop highway (158) is a wondrous scenic drive and awesome for outdoor recreation; but is subject to winter closures during NOV-MAY.

    backpacking
    boating
    camping
    fishing
    hiking
    horseback
    snow ski

    Autumn colors on this highway attract a fair amount of annual visitors. Book campgrounds or lodging (in summertime) for late September to early October for the best timing on fall foliage. First snow of the season usually arrives sometime in October.

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    lake and creeks near the loop –

    June Lake
    Gull Lake
    Silver Lake
    Grant Lake

    Rush Creek
    Reverse Creek
    Walker Creek

    fernlake

    Fern Lake – hike-in

    walkerlake

    Walker Lake – hike-in

    Inyo Forest Road #1N17 is a dirt road, off the main highway. Route leads north from Grant Lake over to Lee Vining junction @ CA 120. Numerous side routes up into scenic canyons, most of which are well signed. Perfect exploring for day hikers, creek fishing, small lakes and primitive camping spots.

    Parker Lakes
    Walker Lake

    Inyo National Forest
    Ansel Adams Wilderness

    June Lake, CA

    nearby towns:
    Lee Vining, CA
    Mammoth Lakes, CA

    area maps:
    Inyo National Forest USDA
    Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps
    Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo