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

goldentroutlakecanyon

onion valley trail views

2N93 – San Berdu NF

Big Bear Dirt Roads

2N93 – Wildhorse Meadows


Heart Bar to Big Bear Lake, San Bernardino National Forest

Big Bear Back Roads
Highway 38, East of Heart Bar @ 1N02
Southern California

alt big bear

This 8 mile long forested, dirt road begins right off Hwy 38, just east of Heart Bar Campground and is an easy turn to miss. The unimproved route heads north through the National Forest, up and over and around SugarLoaf Mountain (elev 9952′), then down to the Big Bear Lake region. Several primitive sites – yellow post camp sites – can be found way back in here, but you might NOT be able to have a campfire (depending on fire restrictions). Check w/ local rangers before you head out.

snow Forest roads are often closed (gated) during the winter, when snow and rain make a muddy mess of the terrain. Rock slides are also common in wetter months. Call the local rangers to inquire on road conditions or if this route is open.

Road 2N93

The whole Big Bear Mountain area is a SoCal favorite forest destination, for weekenders and travelers alike. Mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, camping and 4-wheeling. Plus the recreational lake is full of more water recreation w/ tourist shops and restaurants. Stay away from the crowds and take the back roads for adventure and recreation.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

On the south side –

Big Bear Highway 38
Heart Bar Campground
Heart Bar Equestrian Camp
San Gorgonio Wilderness

On the north side –

Green Spot Equestrian Campground
Green Canyon Group Campground

SugarLoaf Mountain has a National Recreation Trail, overlooking much of the Moonridge golf & ski area.

San Bernardino National Forest

Big Bear Rangers:

San Gorgonio District
Mentone CA
909-382-2881

Barton Flats District
Barton Flats CA
909-794-4861

Big Bear Discovery Center
909-382-2790

Big Bear Maps
San Bernardino National Forest Map

nearby towns:
Angeles Oaks
Big Bear City
Big Bear Lake
Forest Falls
Mentone, CA

Big Bear OffRoad Areas

Views to Big Bear Lake

14S11 – Sequoia NF

Big Meadows Road: Sequoia Forest Rd# 14S11

GIANT SEQUOIA: in between Sequoia & Kings Canyon, inside Sequoia NF

Sequoia Meadows

This chunk of National Forest land is perfectly located in between 2 very popular National Parks – Kings Canyon and Sequoia. This primary paved road leads to some great camping, a perfect option for NOT camping inside the crowed National Parks.

Turn east off of Sequoia ‘Generals Highway’ 198, on to the well signed Big Meadow Rd. There is primitive camping all over this area & a few developed campgrounds along this route. Motorhomes be warned: the road narrows to one lane with no “turn outs” or U turn spots for the last 10 miles (on a steep cliff w/ large overhanging rocks)

SEE CAMPING PHOTOS

In the first few miles, the dispersed camp sites on the right side have great views & some situated on fairly flat granite slabs, perfect for astronomer campers or adventurous RVs. To the left side of the road is more primitive style campsites in wooded areas. The whole area is also a very popular cross country ski & snowmobiling spot for winter recreation. Hunters also like these camps during hunting season (in September).

There is a developed Horse Camp on the left side of the road for equestrian campers. This camp is located across from the biggest meadow and may be the first place you notice on this drive.

Sequoia mapsBuck Rock Campground (7600′ elevation, 5 spots) & Big Meadows Campground (7600′ elevation, 25 spots) are both family style camps, perfect for those who want picnic tables, plus bathroom nearby. Sorry no flush toilets out here, only pit toilets.

Buck Rock Fire Lookout Tower @ 8500′ elevation – is located to the north on Forest Rd # 14S02. It’s a great spot for some impressive views – if you aren’t afraid of heights. To reach the tower you must climb several flights of steel steps. This place is worth a stop if planning a sightseeing day.

RESERVATIONS

Big Meadows Guard Station @ 7500′ elevation (also known as Big Meadows Cabin), is located next to the BIG MEADOW and is available for rent on a weekend basis from the NFS. Hiking Jennie Lakes Wilderness and fly fishing Big Meadows Creek are favorite activities to be enjoyed.

Big Meadows Road is long & narrow – 12+ miles. RVs are not recommended beyond the Big Meadow Campground, as the road is one lane in some spots & it skirts a cliff edge. The views are incredible the farther you go & many creeks feed the region.

The narrow, long paved road eventually forks off into several smaller dirt roads back near Horse Corral Meadow. Way back here, the dirt roads lead out to trail heads for backpacking, horse packing or day hiking in Jennie Lakes & Monarch Wilderness. Backcountry access to either Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Park! Have a good map if you plan to venture out this far. Pay attention & don’t get lost.

GPS would be helpful in this area. Some of the smaller of the dirt roads are not even on the NFS maps. Make sure to GPS way-point your favorite camp site, so you can find in next time…. in the dark.

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest MAP

nearby services:

Sequoia Groves

Marvin Pass Trailhead

Mammoth Hot Springs

Hot Springs Dirt Road

Hot Springs near Mammoth

Eastern Sierra Destination: June Lake and Mammoth Lakes, CA

The Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains run the length of US Highway 395, through most of the eastern side of California. Mammoth mountain is a volcano, so naturally hot springs come with the package. These hot tub destinations listed here are mostly part of the Long Valley Caldera, an ancient volcanic table land. North of Bishop and near the snow ski destination towns of June Lake and Mammoth, California in Mono County, California.

(This region is not to be confused with Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, nor the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.)

Backroads Camping is allowed throughout Inyo National Forest, but there is private ranch lands mixed in w/ public lands. Respect property boundaries, and speed limits around gates and intersections.

Camp sites are not located next to the soaking tubs. A few may be within walking distance. Parking is often limited at these remote, public use hot pools. Total Escape TIP: Behind Lake Crowley: abundant, free camping – wide graded dirt roads (RV and passenger car suitable). Inyo National Forest Map is recommended.

Eastside of Highway 395

Casa Diablo Hot Springs near the Mammoth exit, is a location noted on most maps, but this seems to be the geothermal power plant for the region. If you are looking for hot springs tubs to soak in, you’ll need to get off the main drag for those beauties, way off the highway. On to dirt roads perhaps.

Hot Creek

Inyo Forest Road #3S45, Hot Creek Hatchery Road

(near Mammoth Airport)
Minimal dirt road driving. A very popular spot where hot springs are located within the big creek, so you can feel cold and hot water flowing by you. Scalding can occur near vents underwater, so use caution when wading. Large parking lot overlooks the soaking area and creek canyon. Swimsuits required.

Little Hot Creek Hot Springs
Latitude: 37.8902
Longitude: 118.8425
also known as – “Lil Hot Creek”

sierraminipano

Benton Crossing Rd

Inyo Forest Road #2S84, Benton Crossing Road

This rural intersection at US Hwy 395 is known for the little green church on the corner. Turn east off the highway on to this road> Pull over, get out and stretch. Look at your maps, get the GPS out and then start your exploring. FIrst timers might be able to find a soaking tub within half an hour, if you don’t get lost.

Inyo Forest Road #2S07, Whitmore Hot Springs Rd

Whitmore Tubs Road
a major graded dirt road that leads north off of the paved road, becomes Owens River Road and connects back to US395 several miles to the north.

Several primitive hot tubs can be found on dirt roads in this region, which lead off the main paved road. At night these remote pools can be hard to find with no signage, no street lights and pitch black darkness. Plus the mud blogs and grassy fields all around make the landscape difficult to navigate. If you plan a nighttime arrival, then plan to drive in slowly around the pools, have your GPS handy and look for steam in the air. Cut your headlights if you see other cars or people, and proceed slowly and be friendly.

Hill Top Hot Springs
Latitude: 37.6642
Longitude: 118.7883
Elevation: 6873′
also known as – “Hilltop or Pulky’s Pool”

Crab Cooker Hot Springs
Latitude: 37.6633
Longitude: 118.7995
Elevation: 6857′
also known as – “Fleur de Lys”

Shepard Hot Springs
Latitude: 37.6668
Longitude: 118.8025
Elevation: 6940′
also known as – “Shepard Springs”

The Tub Hot Springs
Latitude: 37.6518
Longitude: 118.8115
Elevation: 6990′

Whitmore Hot Springs
904 Benton Crossing Road
Mono County Park w/ large public swimming pool & day use fee
Phone: 760-935-4222
Latitude: 37.8902
Longitude: 118.8425
also known as – “Whitmore Tubs, Whitmore Springs”

Wild Willie’s Hot Spring
Latitude: 37.6591
Longitude: 118.8425
also known as – “Wild Willy’s, Crowly, Crowley Springs”

Minarets at Mammoth

Minarets at Mammoth

The Backside

Inyo Forest Road #3S11, Minaret Summit Rd

This wilderness region is located the on the west side of Mammoth Mountain, accessible by the paved Minaret Summit Road, which closes due to deep snow and is generally only open during summer months.

Red’s Meadow Hot Springs

developed campground w/ wooden sheds for baths: showers & tubs.
near Devil’s Postpile National Monument
Latitude: 37.618
Longitude: 119.074
Elevation: 7000′
also known as – “Red’s Meadow Hot Showers”

Iva Bell Hot Springs
remote, wilderness; hike-in hot springs.
south of Mammoth & Rainbow Falls, via trail #2622
Latitude: 37.532
Longitude: 119.025
Elevation: 7400′
also known as – “Fish Creek Hot Springs”

see more primitive hot springs in California

see hot spring camps in California

see resort hot springs in California