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

California Fire Lookout

Dome Land from Bald Mtn, KERN

NFS Fire Lookout Towers

Cabin Rentals in California National Forests

Ready to see wide and wild terrain? Views for 100 miles out and the best scenery California has to offer. Be prepared to off road or hike to reach one of these destinations.

Below is a list of historic look out towers & cabins used for spotting wildfires. Some are located on steep granite peaks, ridge lines or dirt roads. 4×4 may be recommended to reach a few. Road conditions can change w/ harsh mountain weather, so be prepared to rough it. Thunderstorms are common on these mountain ridges.

Several of these places are cabins, some are stone houses, but most fire lookouts are basic metal towers – with high climbing staircases, so you must be in decent physical strength to haul your ass up this high.

rangers cabin mountains hikers vacation

Cabins are also called guard stations, huts, bunkhouses. Most are located on mountain tops, but a few exist in desert regions. Some are refurbished & available for overnight rentals. Bare bones furnishings, so forget the frills. People come up here for the thrills. To be outside w/ epic views, way away from the urban grind & to feel on top-of-the-world.

Coon Creek Cabin

 

NFSlogoSee the full list of overnight accommodations on mountain peaks & ridges, some near meadowsNational Forest Cabin Rentals

 

El Dorado National Forest:

Cuyama Peak

Cuyama Lookout is a rough road up. Off Hwy 33, in Los Padres NF

Los Padres National Forest:

  • Cuyama Peak Lookout Tower (pictured above) off Hwy 166 & via Santa Barbara Cyn, 4×4 recommended. Sorta near jct w/ Hwy 33

San Bernardino National Forest:

Sequoia National Forest:

Sierra National Forest:

cabin rentals

BEWARE:
California is the land of wildfires!

Always check for local fire conditions at nearest ranger station, obtain a free campfire permit when camping outside of developed campgrounds, and always practice fire safety when visiting our public lands. You can be held liable for wildfires. Outta control campfire, cigarettes, idling vehicles on tall, dry grass. Be very cautious with fires on the often dry, west coast.

Eastern Sierra Camping

tallpeaktower

Inyo Forest Campgrounds – Eastern Sierra Campgrounds

areas include: Lone Pine, Mount Whitney, Independence, Onion Valley, Ancient Bristlecone Pines, Big Pine, Bishop [Hwy 168], High Sierra, Owens River, Lake Crowley, Rock Creek, Mammoth Lakes [Hwy 203], June Lake Loop [Hwy 158], Lee Vining & East Yosemite National Park [Hwy 120]. Camping on Eastern Sierra Highway 395

Eastern Sierra recreation – backpacking, horse packing, day hiking, creek fishing, mountain biking, mountaineering, rock climbing

Listed below are all the Inyo National Forest campgrounds, County Parks, BLM public lands for outdoor recreation. Most campgrounds are closed for winter months. Blue links lead to camp reservations. Boldface links to more detailed information & photos on campground.

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Agnew Meadows 8400′ 21 pines chem piped Mammoth; Jun-Sept
Big Bend Campground 7800′ 17 pines vault piped Lee Vining, April-Oct
Big Meadow 8600′ 11 pines flush piped Rock Creek; May-Oct
Big Pine Creek 9000′ 30 pines vault piped W of Big Pine; May-Oct
Big Trees Campground 7500′ 9 pines flush piped W of Bishop ; April-Sept
Bishop Park Group Camp 8400′ 20 pines flush piped No RVs;
Bishop Creek
Crowley Lake Camp 6800′ 47 sage vault piped BLM Camp; Apr-Oct
East Fork Campground 9000′ 133 aspens flush piped fishing camp Rock Creek
Ellery Lake Campground 9500′ 12 pines flush piped E Yosemite; June-Oct
Forks Campground 7800′ 8 pines flush piped W of Bishop,; April-Oct
Four Jefferey 8100′ 106 pines vault piped W of Bishop; April-Oct
Goodale Creek 4000′ 43 cttnwd vault no BLM Camp; April-Nov
Grandview Campground 8600′ 26 pinyon vault no Ancient Bristlecone Pines
Grays Meadows 6000′ 52 pines flush piped W of Independence
Gull Lake Campground 7600′ 11 aspens flush piped June Loop; April-Nov
Hartley Springs 8400′ 20 pines vault no Glass Creek, June-Oct
Horseshoe Meadow 10,000′ 10 pines vault piped 1 day limit; horses; More
Horton Creek 4975′ 49 pines vault piped BLM Bishop; May-Oct
Intake Campground 7500′ 8 pines flush piped W of Bishop; April-Oct
Iris Meadow Campgr 8300′ 14 pines flush piped W of Bishop; May-Oct
June Lake Campground 7600′ 22 pines flush piped fishing/hiking
Junction Campground 9600′ 13 pines vault lake E Yosemite; June-Oct
Lake George Campground 9000 16 pines flush piped fish, June-Sept
Lone Pine Campground 5500′ 43 pinyon vault piped W of Hwy 395
McGee Creek 7600′ 26 aspen flush piped Tom’s Place, Hwy 395
New Shady Rest 7800′ 94 pines flush piped Mammoth, in town
North Lake Campground 9500′ 11 pines vault piped W of Bishop; June-Oct
Oh Ridge Campground 6000′ 148 pines flush piped June Lake
Old Shady Rest Camp 7800′ 51 pines flush piped Hwy 203, Mammoth
Onion Valley Campground 9000′ 15 aspen vault piped High Sierra access
Palisade Campground 8600′ 5 aspen flush piped Rock Creek; May-Oct
Pine City Campground 8900′ 10 pines flush piped Lake Mary, June-Sept
Pine Grove Campgr 9300′ 11 pines flush piped May-Oct
Pumice Flat Group Camp 7700′ 17 flush piped June-Sept
Reversed Creek Campground 7600′ 17 aspen flush piped June Loop; May-Oct
Rock Creek Lake 7600′ 25 aspen flush piped Tom’s Place; May-Oct
Sabrina Campground 9000′ 18 pines vault piped W of Bishop; May-Oct
Saddlebag Lake 10,000′ 20 pines vault piped highest camp; June-Oct
Sherwin Creek Camp 7600′ 87 pines flush piped Mammoth Lakes
Taboose Creek 3900′ 55 shade vault stream Big Pine;
open all yr
Tinemaha Creek 4400′ 55 shade vault stream Independence, Inyo Co Park
Tioga Lake Campgr 9700′ 13 pines vault piped fish Yosemite, June-Oct
Tuff Campground 7000′ 34 pines flush piped Rock Creek; RV 22′
Tuttle Creek 5120′ 83 sage vault seasonal Lone Pine; open all yr
Upper Pine Grove 9400′ 8 pines piped May-Oct
Upper Sage Flat 7600′ 21 pines vault piped W Big Pine; April-Oct
Whitney Portal Camp 9000′ 44 pines flush piped Trailhead; May-Oct
Whitney Trailhead 9000′ 10 pines vault piped Trailhead; May-Oct

sunsetgrandview

see Group Campgrounds in Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra

8

Eastern Sierra Vacation, see also –

Topo maps, wilderness hiking maps, fishing maps
Equestrian trails, 4×4 routes, OHV maps –

Twin LakesEastern Sierra communities include:

Dogs in Lake

Kern River Campgrounds

gold ledge lupine

Kern River Campgrounds – NFS

Sequoia National Forest Campgrounds
Kern River, Southern Sierra Nevada

All the developed campgrounds listed below charge an overnight fee. Some are open year round, while others close for winter. Camping Reservation links provided.

kern campgrounds California NFS Kern RVing

Upper Kern River
North of Kernville, California

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

campground

elev

spots

veg

toilet

notes

Fairview Campground

3500′

55

mixed

vault

Upper Kern; RV 45′

Gold Ledge Campground

3200′

37

mixed

vault

Upper Kern; RV 30′

Headquarters Campground

2800′

44

alder

vault

Kern River; RV 27′

Hospital Flat Campground

3000′

40

alder

vault

Kern River; RV 30′

Limestone Campground

3800′

22

mixed

vault

Upper Kern; RV 30′

headquarters kern

RV campgrounds campgrounds hiking fishing campgrounds mt biking campgrounds

Lake Isabella

Lake Isabella, Kern Canyon California

Lower Kern River
South of Kernville, California

Granite Boulders

campground

elev

spots

veg

toilet

notes

Sandy Flat Campground

2300′

38

mixed

vault

open all year

Hobo Campground

2300′

35

mixed

vault

open seasonally

NFS
Sequoia National Forest
Kernville Ranger Station
760-376-3781

Additional Info on Kern Camping –

Kern Flats Camping: Free Camps
Lake Isabella
Keyesville OHV

Big Meadow Sequoia 

Kennedy Meadows, South Fork of Kern River
Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway
Dome Land Wilderness

Kern River Canyon
Kern River Hot Springs

kernrvcamper

Kern Flats Camping Free

chamise flat

Dispersed Camping Kern River

boondocking
primitive camping
undeveloped sites

KERNVILLE, CA

Located north of the small community of Riverkern and south of the Johnsondale Bridge, numerous flat camp spots adjacent to the rivers edge can be found.

johnsondale bridge @ KERNAnt Canyon Dispersed Area
Brush Creek Campground
Calkins Flat Dispersed Area
Chamise Flat Dispersed Area
Chico Flat Campground
Corral Creek Campground
Springhill Dispersed Area

 

Kern River Road
Sierra Way in Kernville travels north along the Upper Kern River & becomes Mountain Hwy 99 – which eventually connects with the Western Divide Highway in Giant Sequoia National Monument.

California NFS Kern RVing kern campgrounds open camping

truckcamping

Dispersed Camping Areas along the Kern River

Open Year Round! These FREE camp areas are called dispersed camping sites. No pavement, no picnic tables, no bathrooms, no piped water. Portable toilets & trash bins may be available in the busier summer months. Campfire permits are required for all campfires, BBQs, and camp stoves. Fire restrictions are common in extreme dry conditions. 14 day limit on camping.

Mountain Biking Kernville kern hiking fishing Kern snow Kern

camping, fishing, kayaking, mountain biking, rafting

Many flats are signed w/ small brown signs, while others are not. Some are actually flat and easy to access, while others are steep, eroded dirt trails unsuitable for RV travel.

Kelly’s Hole, overgrown, unknown, well-known or burnt beyond recognition? Roads End is no more.

Camp sites listed on this page are dispersed camping areas around the Kern River Area. Not all camp spots are listed, cuz many are unnamed. Bring your GPS to mark your favorite camp sites and you can arrive in the dark, late at night, anytime, (avoiding city traffic after work).

chamise pre-wildfire

Several spots known as “dirt flats” are easy accessible right off the pavement of Sierra Way. Primitive river camping, fishing spots and raft launch areas north of town. Vault toilets might be available during busy summer months, but you’re on your own the remainder of the year. Bring a shovel and take a hike, away from the water flow. And if that sounds like too much work for a potty break, maybe you are not cut out for the primitive kinda camping style. No garbage service either: pack it in, pack it out.

Wildflowers are abundant in the Kern Canyon nearly every Spring season (April & May), which is a popular time to enjoy this region. Autumn brings minimal fall colors to this dry, desert mountainous landscape, but the fishing is decent at that time of year.

campfiresCAMPING OUTSIDE OF CAMPGROUND means you must obtain a free fire permit from the local rangers. Sometimes these dispersed spots are fire-safe areas, and you are allowed to have camp fires. Other times campfire restrictions are in place w/ wildfire dangers too extreme and no fires are allowed, anywhere. (Not even inside a developed campground!)

Kern RV spot

river Kern WILDERNESS NOTE: The USDA National Forests web site states that “Camping and campfires within 25 feet of the water’s edge is prohibited due to the Wild and Scenic Designation”, but that doesn’t seem to stop some from setting up right on the fragile rivers edge. Doubtful that this rule is being enforced by the rangers, but consider yourself warned unless they start to get serious about this restriction. Many believe that the free camping along the Kern river is destroying it, so don’t be surprised if these areas get closed or barriers placed at the flats.

Caulkins FLAT has some new boulder barriers put in place which prevent cars from reaching certain ideal camp spots (right at the waters edge). Tough luck. Now we have to hike more.

California rivers

kern flat camping

Upper Kern River
North of Kernville, CA

all camps below listed from south to north

ALL CAPS = developed campgrounds managed by US Forest Service, w/ links to Kern River Campgrounds. California NFS

HEADQUARTERS CAMPGROUND (NFS)

Both Halfway & Thunderbird used to be dispersed camps, but they were converted to reservation-only Group Campgrounds by the National Forest in 2014

Chico Flat
2500′ elev
Just south of Hospital Flat Campground.
This camp area is known as “Chico Flat Campground” on GoogleMaps.

HOSPITAL FLAT CAMPGROUND (NFS)

Corral Creek
3200′ elev
Hike to Corral Creek Beach & Picnic Area.
This camp area is known as “Corral Creek Campground” on GoogleMaps.

Spring Hill
This camping area is marked as “Upper Springhill Campground & “Lower Springhill Campground” on GoogleMaps.

GOLD LEDGE CAMPGROUND (NFS)

Ant Canyon
Just north of Goldledge Campground, along the Upper Kern River.
South of Salmon Creek; Hike to Salmon Creek Falls.

Chamise Flatchamisespot
12 miles north of Kernville, CA
This camping bluff could be the most forested of all the ‘kern flat’ camping areas, but river is a short hike down a very steep cliff. Fishing is excellent in this stretch.

Calkins Flat
15 miles north of Kernville, along the Upper Kern River. Just south of Fairview (McNalley’s). Sign at the location reads a different spelling of “Caulkins Flat”. Kayak and rafting put-in spot. One of the best sites for large groups. Area is also known as simply “Lower Campground” on GoogleMap.

free kern river camp

FAIRVIEW CAMPGROUND (NFS)

LIMESTONE CAMPGROUND (NFS)

Brush Creek
3600′ elev
Just south of Sherman’s Pass Road turnoff. This place also serves as a Day Use Area, where Brush Creek meets the Kern. Kayaking put in spot. Popular fishing area. Large open dirt parking lot with a vault toilet.

 

 

California rivers

Lower Kern River
Southwest of Kernville, CA

Lake Isabella has some shoreline camping with wide open access to the lake. Paradise Cove perhaps?

Historic Keyesville – “off-roaders camping paradise” along the river, but no swimming is allowed due to the extremely dangerous section of river. OHV trails lead (west) down river for many miles. Dirt bikes love the rugged boulder-scapes and steep hills. FREE camping; BLM Kern.

SANDY FLAT CAMPGROUND (NFS) – open all year long!
elev 2300′

HOBO CAMPGROUND (NFS)

Remington

Remington Hot Springs can be a zoo at times w/ the amount of people who love to stop here. A busy dirt parking lot, right across from the Remington trailhead sign. Many vehicles park here daily for day hikes, hot springs, fishing – and people also like to camp out, although camp sites are on slopes (not ideal), only a few and they fill up fast (before sunset).

Total Escape TIP: The very best camps at Remington are actually the ones you hafta hike down to. Less than a half mile down to the rivers edge to find a private mini beach. Pack light and arrive prepared to walk several miles (back & forth, several times).

Old Kern Canyon Road parallels Sierra Highway 178 and sits well above the river, so any flat spots you find will have great views w/ minimal river access.

Lower Kern River

Lower Kern River has very limited camping options.