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 Mountain Fire Lookout
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.
BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS
Beasore Meadow, way up behind Bass Lake, CA
Big Meadow Road #22S12, Dome Land
Big Meadows Road #14S11
Dixie Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
Drakesbad Ranch, Warner Valley – Lassen NF
Dunderburg Meadow, off Green Creek Rd
Eastern Sierra Canyons
Green Creek Road
Holey Meadows Group Camp, Western Divide
Horse Meadow Campground, Road #22S12
Horseshoe Meadows Road
w/ Cottonwood Lakes Campground (10,000′ elev)
Inyo National Forest
Jackass Meadow – way up behind North Fork
Kennedy Meadows, Sequoia NF
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, Sonora Pass
Kingsley Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
Kings Canyon National Park
Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Lake Tahoe CA
Lassen National Forest
Leland Meadow, Pinecrest, CA
Little Shasta Meadow Botanical Area, east of Yreka, CA
Long Meadow Campground, Sequoia NF
>Manter Meadows>, Dome Land
Meadow Valley rural btwn Quincy & Bucks Lake
Mendocino NF names these Glade, instead of meadow
Mill Potrero Highway, Pine Mountain CA
Mount Pinos Recreation
Mountain Home State Forest
Panther Meadows Campground, Mount Shasta
Plaskett Meadows Campground, Mendocino NF
Red’s Meadow Campground, Mammoth Lakes
Red’s Meadow Resort & Pack Station
Redwood Meadow Campground, Giant Sequoia
Rock Creek Road: Iris Meadow & Big Meadow Campgrounds
Powell Meadow, Sequoia NF
Sequoia National Forest
Sequoia National Park
Shirley Meadows Road #25S15
Sierra National Forest
Stanislaus National Forest
Sugarfoot Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
Thousand Lakes Wilderness
Toiyabe National Forest
Troy Meadows, Sequoia NF
Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Highcountry
Upper Summer Meadow Road, off Green Creek Rd
Yosemite National Park
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 camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.
Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires on the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading.
Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas.
When 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.