Tag Archives: National Forest

California Mountain Maps

The Mountains of California

Camping El Dorado NF, on the Consumnes River
Camping El Dorado NF, on the Consumnes River

If you know you wanna head up in elevation, higher altitudes – to the pine forests of California, but have no clue where to start, this page may be very helpful in determining your ultimate destination. We have hundreds of pages on adventures & locations throughout the golden state. We sell all California maps for outdoor recreation, hiking topos to off road routes.

Wanna camp under the stars this weekend – and avoid the crowds too? You will need a good back road map to find this awesome camp site, guaranteed. Need a hammock spot, small swimming hole & total seclusion? Or how about a large family camp w/ Sequoia grove nearby? Total Escape has something for every ones budget & lifestyle. See below for an extensive breakdown of California mountain regions.

#1
SoCal mountains have tighter restrictions on campfires, larger number of people camping in a smaller amount of space, minimal primitive camping options in the forests, more fees to access these lands.

#2
The Sierra Nevada mountains are the prime outdoor destination for many in the Central California region. High elevations w/ granite slabs to lower country reservoirs & riverside oak flats. Folks come from all over the world to visit parks and lakes within this mountain range. Indeed, 4 National Parks call the Sierras home: Lassen, Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP – not to mention the 10 National Forest and 15+ Wilderness Areas.

#3
You want big water? Cabins next to a prime fishing river or camping near lakes, creeks with dense forests, then you will have to drive to the mid Sierra or even NorCal to find ’em.

Wilderness maps

California Mountain Regions Defined –
find the details on specific region for California mountains

saabaru_forest
Mountain Home Sequoias

epic finds

Find little known parks, camps and forests within our vast California BACK ROADS data base. Below is a small sampling of our picturesque mountain pages, where you can find the best seclusion: hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking trails, rivers, creeks and peaks.

NFSlogo

Sierra Buttes
The Sierra Buttes, Northern Sierra near Gold Lake

sierra National Forest map

Outdoor Recreation Maps of California:

inyohighroad
Inyo high roads, of the Eastern Sierra


National Forest Cabins

California Fire Lookouts for Rent
US Forest Service Cabins

red cabin

NFSlogo
Rent a secluded cabin with an amazing view, a historic tower for wildfire spotting, or a USFS guard station – hidden deep inside USDA California National Forests. Several of these NFS lookouts have been closed recently, so the ones listed below have links to status and reservation information.

Dirt road access is common to reach these remote locations. Some require stair climbing, or steep access hikes. Winter months are usually snowy, inaccessible and sometimes dangerous for these high country locations. Access roads suffer from closures due to rock slides or landslides. Check with the locals ranger station for current conditions.

A few of these rentals are open all year long – in the southern part of the golden state.

El Dorado National Forest USFS

Harvey West Cabin
4,720′ elev. on Silverfork American River, Gold Rush

Loon Lake Chalet
6375′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

Robbs Peak Lookout
Robb’s Hut / Robbs Cabin
6686′ elev near Placerville, Gold Country California

Sly Guard Cabin
Sly Park @ Jenkinson Lake, near Placerville, Gold Country California

Van Vleck Bunkhouse
6549′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California
download PDF info sheet

Lassen National Forest USFS

McCarthy Point Lookout
overlooking Mill Creek Canyon and Ishi Wilderness
ranger & info 530-258-2141

Plumas National Forest USFS

Crocker Guard Station
5700′ elev. near Meadow on back road
Lake Davis Loop, way out behind Portola, California

 

Big Bear Lake 2002
Big Bear Lake, Southern California

San Bernardino National Forest USFS

Coon Creek Cabin
Actually a reservable group campground next to a set of historic cabins. Big Bear Area Group Camp Site. Heart Bar Rd #1N02 near Angeles Oaks, CA

Morton Peak Fire Lookout
(no longer available overnight stays 2019)

Coon Cabin
Coon Cabin – Southern Cal

Sequoia National Forest USFS

Big Meadows Cabin
Big Meadows Guard Station
off Big Meadows Rd #14S11
7600′ elevation; located in between Sequoia NP & Kings Canyon NP

Camp 4 ½ Cabin
1100′ elevation; Lower Kings River
near Pine Flat Lake, CA

Grouse Valley Cabins
3 cabins near lakes; Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide
4800′ elev.

Mountain Home Guard Station
Mountain Home State Forest, Sequoia Groves
6000′ elev. near Springville, CA

Needles Fire Lookout
(destroyed in structure fire 2011)

the needles
View of The Needles, from Dome Rock on Western Divide Highway (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Oak Flat Lookout
Oak Flat Cabin Rental
4900′ elevation; Kern River canyon near Lake Isabella

Poso Guard Station Cabin Rental
open all year round
4500′ elev. near Kernville, CA

Quaking Aspen Cabin Rental
Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide Highway near Ponderosa, CA

Wishon Cabin Rental
Tule River, Giant Sequoia National Monument; open all year round
4000′ elev. near Camp Nelson, CA

Shasta/Trinity National Forests USFS

Forest Glen Guard Station
near Trinity River & Forest Glen, CA

Frog Meadow Guard Station
7760′ elev. near Lake Isabella, CA

Girard Ridge Lookout
Historic Fire Lookout Tower
4809′ elev. near Dunsmuir, CA

Hirz Mountain Lookout Tower
Hirz Mtn. Fire Watch Tower Rental
overlooking Shasta Lake, CA
(currently closed for repairs 2019)

Harris Springs Guard Station
near McCloud, CA

Little Mount Hoffman Lookout
Mt. Hoffman Rental
7000′ elev. near McCloud, CA

Post Creek Guard Station
near Hayfork & Platina, CA


Sierra National Forest USFS

Camp Four and a half Cabin
Camp 4 ½ Cabin Rental
Lower Kings River, open all year round
1100′ elev. near Pine Flat Reservoir

 

Six Rivers National Forest USFS

Bear Basin Butte Cabin & Fire Lookout
elevation 5300′ in Six Rivers NF / Smith River NRA
(road damage & access issues 2017)

Tahoe National Forest USFS

Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
near Sierraville, CA

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
overlooking the Sierra Buttes and serene Lakes Basin, Yuba Rivers, North Gold Country CA

lakes basin views


Kings River Camping

Camping areas along Kings River, Sierra Nevada California

dirtroadskings

Kings is the longest river in the Sierra Nevada and very rugged and remote in most of the length. The Upper Kings is situated in the highest of elevation, granite alpine back country, with abundant small lakes and numerous Wilderness areas.

The tallest peak, Mount Whitney, drains this way – down waterfalls and whitewater, westward to California into the San Joaquin Valley. Agriculture and orchards of citrus. The mid section of this mighty Kings River runs close to Hwy 180 inside the Kings Canyon National Park.

The Lower Kings is popular among campers, fishermen, kayakers and rafters, accessible most of the year. Upper Kings River is located inside the National Park boundaries.

NPS Campgrounds near Upper Kings River

Inside Kings Canyon National Park:
Cedar Grove Village @ end of Highway 180

elevation 4600′

may be closed during winter months.
reservations recommended.
NPS

Sheep Creek Campground (111 sites)
Sentinel Campground (82 sites)
Canyon View Campground (37 sites)
Moraine Campground (120 sites)

Roaring River Falls, Sentinel Dome (9115′ elev)

hikes
Roads End Trailhead
backpack camping, from paved parking area.
NPS – wilderness permits required for overnight stays.

Kings Highcountry Topo Map

bridge kings

Camping near Lower Kings River

Open all year round. Outside the National Park boundary, westward in lower elevations, many more camping options are available.

NFS

NOTE: Sierra National Forest is located  on the north side, along the river shore in between Pine Flat Lake & Kings Cyn National Park. But Sequoia National Forest is located on the south side!

Lower Kings is best accessed via the paved roads, up behind Pine Flat Lake, California

river
Trimmer Springs Road #11S12: a paved access route, wraps around the northern shore of Pine Flat Reservoir. Very winding and long, with 25 mph curves; this main route continues east into the massive Kings River Canyon.

Google Maps may have this road crossing the river, toward the end. Proper signage is questionable in the area, since local rednecks love to shoot up signs. Trimmer route quickly peters out to narrow dirt roads, anywhere past the Mill Flat Campground area.

Lower Kings is NOT easily reached via the National Parks, nor Kings Canyon Highway 180. Dirt road travel is required on Road #12S01, which can be steep and rocky at best. The drive-able climb up to the highway may require 4 wheel drive in some sections, depending on weather and land slides.

Winter brings some snow and abundant rains (NOV – APRIL).

LANDSLIDES and ROCK SLIDES are common with ROAD CLOSURES usually posted on the Sierra National Forest, NFS web site.

big river kings

 

poppy

Wildflowers are abundant in this region for springtime. (MARCH-MAY)

camp

(north shore)
Lower Kings River
elevation 1100′

Sierra National Forest fish

Kirch Flat Campground NFS (17 sites)

tables & toilets

both above are free camp spots: boondocking, dispersed camps, primitive car camping, tent camping, RV camping, river fishing, kayaking, rafting

Sierra Road #12S01 – primitive camping, few pit toilets; fishing access, some trailhead camps and RV spots along river. The northern most arm of this road is also referred to as Road# 12S001 Garnet Dike, on the NFS web site.

newbridge
Along paved routes, near bridges, some dispersed camping is also allowed. Campfire permits are required.

Sierra Road #9 is Big Creek Canyon a side route, graded dirt road worth exploring for primitive camping options. The farther you drive up, the more vegetation you will find. Campfire permits are required.

BlackRock Reservoir Road #11S12, another side route (paved) climbs steeply in elevation, along a cliff edge. This spot offers a small NFS campground near a lake, and is located along the North Fork of the river.

kingsflow2010
click to enlarge

(south shore)
Lower Kings River

elevation 1000′

Sierra National Forest

NFS

Pine Flat Reservoir

elevation 952′

rafterskings


Bucks Lake Campgrounds

indian rock
Indian Rock is a beach (day use only) on the west side.

Bucks Lake, California

Below is a list of all the developed campgrounds & RV Parks surrounding the Bucks Lake region of Plumas National Forest in the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains. The infamous Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) runs through Bucks Lake Wilderness, so there are also trailhead camps and backcountry camp sites that are not in this list. This high elevation region closes the campgrounds for winter: NOV- APRIL

campgrounds RV campgrounds fishing lakes campgrounds launch lake camping hiking lakes

Campgrounds at Bucks Lake

campground elev spots veg toilet water
Hutchins Group Camp 5200′ 10 pines flush piped
Lower Bucks Campground 5200′ 6 pines vault piped
Mill Creek Campground 5200′ 10 pines vault piped
Sundew Campground 5200′ 19 pines vault piped

NFS camps

NFS Camps nearby

campground elev spots veg toilet water
Deanes Valley Campground 4400′ 7 mixed vault creek
Grizzly Creek Campground 5400′ 8 pines vault piped
Silver Lake Campground 5800′ 9 pines vault lake
Snake Lake Campground 4200′ 14 mixed vault lake
Whitehorse Campground 5200′ 20 pines vault creek

USDA
Plumas National Forest

Oroville Ranger Station NFS
530-534-6500

Quincy Ranger Station NFS
530-283-0555

Bucks Lake CA

PG&E Campground @ Bucks Lake

Haskins Valley Campground
16731 Bucks Lake Rd
530-283-0256

Grizzly Forebay Campground
CLOSED in 2013 by PG&E
530-896-4263 (for more info)

RV Parks @ Bucks Lake

Bucks Lake Camp & RV
280 Bucklin Road
530-283-2221

Bucks Lake Marina
16469 Bucks Lake Rd
530-283-4243

Lakeshore Resort
16001 Bucks Lake Rd
530-283-2848

grizzly creek

Lassen Lakes

Lassen Lakes in California

Lassen Volcanic Park is surrounded by beautiful mountains and lakes, some inside the National Park boundary, but most outside. Lassen National Forest, Thousand Lakes Wilderness, Lake Almanor, Hat Creek and Burney Falls encompass this pristine water wonderland of NorCal. Outdoor recreation all over – rivers, fish, hunt, camp, mountain bike, off road.

LAVA TUBE: Subway cave

Backpack camps, RV campground, fishing lakes, day hikes, off-road and lake side camp sites, we have it all listed on Total Escape.

Hiking, camping, fishing all over this region! Mountain bike, kayak, or relax all day in the hammock – in a shady spot with a view. Water flows freely and annual snow melt is abundant in this part of California. Some locales may not open until July 4th weekend. Always check with the Lassen NFS rangers to make sure.

^ lakes with campgrounds

‘ feet in elevation, above sea level

Lakes inside Lassen National Park:

(lakes located on Lassen Hwy 89)

Lake Helen

Summit Lake ^
Summit Lake Campgrounds – Summit Lake North & Summit Lake South & Horse Corral Camp

shotoverinlake

Manzanita Lake ^ 5847′
Manzanita Lake Camping – Manzanita Lake Campground

(lakes via dirt backroads)

Juniper Lake NPS Lassen ^ 6792′
Juniper Lake Campgrounds –
Juniper Lake Campground & Juniper Lake Group Site & Horse Corral Camp

Butte Lake ^ 6043′
Butte Lake Campgrounds –
Butte Lake Campground & Butte Lake Group Camp & Horse Corral Camp

(lakes on the trail)
Crumberg Lake
Twin Lakes
Jakey Lake
Snag Lake 6076′
Horseshoe Lake
Willow Creek
Long Lake

 

Lassen National Forest lakes: fishing lakes

Majority of these lakes require dirt road driving to reach them. Often forest roads close for snow, usually during winter months (DEC-MAY)

Wilson Lake 5267′
Crater Lake ^ 6800′
Echo Lake
Widow Lake
Star Lake 6362′
Rising River Lake
Baum Lake
Murken Lake
Haynes Reservoir
Heart Lakefishing lakes
McGowan Lake
Willow Lake
Shotoverin Lake

killercamp_echo
Killer Camp @ Echo Lake

lassen camps

Caribou Wilderness:

Campsites with hiking lakes and wilderness trailhead access, right next to Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Echo Lake ^
Caribou Lake ^
Silver Lake ^ – Silver @ Lassen
Triangle Lake

LassenAtlas
Find Lassen Maps, NFS Topo Atlas

Thousand Lake Wilderness:

North of Mount Lassen is the less-popular Wilderness Area w/ many miles of dirt roads to travel.

North Battle Creek Lake ^ 5571′
Logan Lake
Buckhorn Lake 4776′
Lake Eiler
Terry Lake

 

NorCal Recreation Lakes nearby:

Lake Britton @ Burney Falls ^ 2732′
Eagle Lake ^ 5100′
Butt Valley Reservoir ^ 4142′
Lake Almanor ^ 4500′

Lone Tree @ Eagle Lake

Northern California towns nearby:

BURNEY
FALL RIVER MILLS
OLD STATION
SUSANVILLE
WESTWOOD
CHESTER
MINERAL
MILL CREEK

 

Walk-In Camp Sites

MIneral KIng Walkin Camps

Walk-In Camps

Below are developed campgrounds in California that have walk-in camp spots available. Vehicles are parked and you must carry your gear into the camp site (usually a short distance, but can be up to a half mile).

California Campgrounds with more than a 1-mile trek are not included in this list below. Areas such as – Catalina Island, Crystal Cove SP, Angel Island SP, Point Reyes National Seashore, indeed have many hike-to camps, but most are measured in miles (one way).

walk in campsites are perfect for –

  • people who wish not to see cars @ camp
  • people who prefer less noise while camping
  • physically fit folks, who want exercise
  • backpackers, who plan to hit the trails soon
  • avid hikers, who may be out day hiking
  • cyclists, just passing through
  • mountain bike campers
  • one nighters, travelers who only stay one night
  • late comers to the campground

    (hint: these are usually the last campsites to fill up)

NewMelones WalkIn Camps

Walk in campsites are often located away from car campers & RVs. Some camp sites may have more privacy, tucked away in trees, while others have shared community area with fire pits and/or barbecues. All camp sites will have picnic tables and a some kinda toilet nearby. Bear boxes may be available for storing food properly. Sharing these food storage boxes with neighboring campers is common practice.

Campgrounds with walk-in sites range in elevation from sea level marshlands to high altitude alpine lakes. Most of these camps listed below are located inside developed campgrounds with overnight fees. Many are small campgrounds, while others are large hubs of activity. Some may be smaller campgrounds, with just a few camp sites. The most popular places can be reserved, with the links provided.

Many parks can also have day use fees, so know where you park and what time span is allowed. Ask the campground host if needing assistance. Some campgrounds lock their gates at sunset and do not permit entry at night. Others may not allow campers to check in anytime after sundown. Know their rules before you make reservations.

If you plan on not making camp reservations; make sure to have a plan B or C choice camp – in case your desired campground is already full. Many popular destinations can fill up fast (by noon in the summer).

spacious camps
Spacious Camp @ Aspen Grove Campground, Eagle Lake, CA

Walk In Camps in California

hikes campmtb

Andrew Molera State Park, North Big Sur Coast
Anthony Chabot Regional Park, East Bay San Francisco
Aspen Grove Campground, Eagle Lake, CA
Austin Creek SRA, Armstrong Redwoods, Guerneville CA

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
Black Rock Campground, Little Grass Valley Reservoir
Blue Lake Campground, PG&E 4×4 @ i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
Boise Creek Campground, Six River National Forest
Bottchers Gap Campground, North Big Sur Mountains
Butano State Park, Pescadero, Santa Cruz Mountains

Carr Campground, i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
Cherry Hill Campground, Butte Creek, Lassen National Forest
Chilcoot Campground, Frenchman Lake, Plumas NF
China Camp State Park, SF @ San Pablo Bay, San Rafael
Chula Vista Campground @ Mount Pinos, Los Padres NF mtb
Clear Lake State Park, North Wine Country, Kelseyville CA
Cold Springs Campground
,
Mineral King @ Sequoia NP
Cool Springs CampgroundPG&E Camp, Butt Valley Reservoirhike
Cottonwood Pass / Cottonwood Lakes
on Horseshoe Meadow Rd, PCT Eastern Sierra @ Lone Pine

coolsprings

Dark Day Campground, New Bullards Bar Reservoir, N Sierra
Donner Memorial State Park, Interstate 80 @ Truckee CA

Dry Lagoon Walk-In, Humboldt Lagoons State Park

El Capitan State Beach, North Santa Barbara Coast

Gaviota State Park Campground, North Santa Barbara Coast
Glory Hole Campground @ New Melones Reservoir, Gold Co
Granite Flat Campground, Truckee River @ Lake Tahoe
Gualala Point Park, Gualala River, Sonoma County Park

Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground, Half Moon Bay

Headquarters Campground, Salton Sea SRA @ Mecca CA
Henry W Coe State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
(wilderness permits required)

Intake Campground, Bishop Creek, Eastern Sierra

Jackson Flat Walk-In Camp PCT @ Angeles NF
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground, NorCal
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur Coast

Kidd Lake Group Campground, PG&E @ i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
Kayak, canoe, hike-in camp sites

Kirby Cove @ Golden Gate National Recreation Area
5 tent camp sites on a bluff over the mouth of San Francisco Bay; reservations required

Klamath National Forest –
small campsites on a river

Lassen National Park – Southwest Campground 6700′ elev.
Liberty Glen Campground @ Lake Sonoma Recreation Area
Limekiln State Park Campground, Hwy 1 Big Sur Coastline

MacKerricher State Park Campground, Mendocino Coast
Macumber Reservoir,
PG&E Camp, West of Lassen NPfishing
Manresa State Beach Campground
, Monterey Bay
Marmot Rock Walk-In Camp, Courtright Reservoir
Mary Smith Campground
@ Lewiston Lake, Trinity River

McCabe Flat Campground @
Merced Recreation Area, Merced River, Mariposa CA

Mesa Campground, Silverwood Lake SRA, Cajon Pass (I-15)
Mill Creek Campground @ Bucks Lake, Plumas NF
Mill Creek Campground, Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP
Montana de Oro State Park, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo mtb
Mosquito Flat Trailhead Camp, One night limit! Camp is for backpackers heading into back country at the end of Rock Creek Road, Inyo NF hike

Niagra Creek Campground, OHV 4×4 trails, Stanislaus NF
North Battle Creek Reservoir
PG&E Camp, West of Lassen
North Grove Campground, Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Oak Bottom Campground

Oak Bottom Campground @ Whiskeytown Reservoir NRA (wildfire 2018)

Onion Valley CA

Onion Valley Campground, Eastern Sierra @ Independence, CAhike

Pantoll Campground, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Marin
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground, Big Sur Coast
Pigeon Flat Campground, Stanislaus River, Dardanelle CA
Pomo Canyon Walk-In Camp, Sonoma Coast State Beach
Portola Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
hikePrather Meadows Camp, Bunny Flat @ Mount Shasta
Providence Mountains SRA @ Mitchell Cavern, Mojave

Redwood National Park, NorCal Coast
(no reservations, no fees. open all year)

  • Flint Ridge Walk-In
  • Nickel Creek Walk-In
chulavistacamp
CHULA VISTA CAMPGROUND – Wild Iris Meadow at Mount Pinos

Refugio State Beach, North Santa Barbara Coast
Rock Creek Campground
, Eel River @ Standish-Hickey SRA
Roxie Peconom Campground, Bizz Johnson Trail, W Susanville mtb
Rucker Lake Campground, PG&E @ i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
Russian Gulch State Park Campground, Mendocino Coast

San Clemente State Beach, Orange County Coast
Sanborn Campground, Skyline County Park, Saratoga CA
Sand Flat Campground, Clark Fork, Carson Icerberg Wilderness
Silver Creek Campground, Truckee River @ Tahoe
Southwest Walk-In Camp
, 6700′ elev @ Lassen Volcanic National Park
Squaw Leap Campground, San Joaquin River, Auberry CA
Stillwater Cove Regional Park, N of Fort Ross, Sonoma Coast

Tahoe National Forest
Donner Area Camping Lakes

NFS 530-265-4531

  • Carr Lake Campground
    10 miles north of Highway 20
    6,700′ elev
    5 walk-in campsites
  • Rucker Lake Campground
    6 miles north of Highway 20
    5,462′ elev
    7 walk-in campsites
  • Sterling Lake Campground
    9 miles north of Interstate 80
    7,000′ elev
    6 walk-in campsites

Toad Lake Walk In Camp, PCT @ Shasta National Forest
Tuolumne Meadows Camp, Yosemite National Park
(reservations & wilderness permits required)

Union Reservoir Walk In Camps, Arnold CA

Union Valley Reservoir – Eldorado National Forest

  • Azalea Cove Campground
  • Fashoda Campground

Van Damme Redwoods State Park, Mendocino Coast

Walker Pass Campground, PCT, East of Lake Isabella CA
Whitney Portal Trailhead Camp, Mount Whitney, Eastern Sierra

Willow Placer Campground BLM, Merced River Recreation Area
Woodside Campground, Salt Point State Park, Sonoma Coast

OnionValleyWalkIns

Walk in campgrounds are considered ‘tent camping‘, as opposed to ‘car camping‘, which is literally camping next to your vehicle. This type of hike-in camping may also be referred to as ‘trailhead camping‘, as many ideal hikes begin at these prime locations. Boat-in, bike-in or hike-in camp sites are also available at some of these locations.

Lake Henshaw

henshawabove

Lake Henshaw
North San Diego County

Lake Henshaw is next to Cleveland National Forest with Palomar Mountain State Park closeby. The northern border of Anza Borrego Desert State Park is not too far away either.

MAPS of this region –SAN DIEGO mountains map

Cleveland National Forest USDA
Cleveland Forest Topo Atlas USDA
Anza Borrego Desert Map
San DiegoBackcountry Map
Agua Tibia Wilderness Map

If you are imagining a forested alpine lake near Palomar Mountain, this is not it. Henshaw is a countryside area w/ meadow setting near ranches with open skies and open terrain. Can be windy at times! Can be hot in late summer.

Perfect remote spot for stargazing. Henshaw is the nearest body of water to Mount Palomar & is located on Hwy. 76, but the terrain is quite the contrast to the pine topped mountain nearby.

treebwTREES: Lake Henshaw has very few trees; mostly large open spaces & fields surrounding it. Cattle grazing & rolling hills w/ mountain backdrop. Stargazing and fishing cabins is more fitting of a description. This bare bones basic, little cabin resort offers a true get away from civilization for maximum relaxation close to SoCal cities.

Lake Henshaw specs:
elevation: 2740′
surface area: 1137 acres

Lake Henshaw Resort
760-782-3501
lakehenshawresort.com

Camping – 400 developed camp sites for tent and RV. swimming, picnicking, hiking, cabins, groceries

fishing:

  • trout
  • catfish
  • bluegill
  • bass
  • crappie

boating:

  • boat launch ramp
  • canoe
  • kayak
  • row boat
  • power boats
  • boat rentals available
  • inflatables
  • windsurfing

California Fishing Cabins SoCal

Campground San Bernardino

whitecliffs

Big Bear – San Bernardino National Forest Camping & Campgrounds

areas include:
Big Bear Lake, Fawnskin, San Gorgonio, Lake Arrowhead, Forest Falls, Green Valley Lake & Idyllwild

Listed below are all the San Bernardino National Forest campgrounds, public lands for outdoor recreation. SoCal campground reservations can be booked online with the linked campsites below.

Big Bear Campgrounds near Big Bear Lake & Fawnskin area

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Applewhite Campground 6800′ 42 pines vault piped disabled access, RV 30′
Barton Flats Campground 6300′ 52 pines vault shwrs disabled access, RV 45′
Big Pine Flats Horse Camp 6800′ 17 pines vault piped Way back 3N14, year round
Cold Brook Campground 7000′ 36 pines vault piped RV max 25′
Crab Flats Campground 6200′ 29 pines vault piped 3N16, Green Valley Lk
Dogwood Campground 7000′ 90 pines vault piped disabled access, RV 22′
Green Valley Campground 7000′ 37 pines vault piped Green Valley Lake
Hanna Flat Campground 7000′ 88 pines vault RV max 25′
Heart Bar Campground 6900′ 94 pines vault seasonal Hwy 38, equestrian
Holcomb Valley Campgr 7400′ 19 pines vault no Rd 3N16, year round
Horse Springs Campgr 5800′ 17 pines vault no Rd 3N17, year round
North Shore Arrowhead 5100′ 27 vault piped disabled access
Pineknot Campground 6400′ 48 vault piped disabled access, RV 45′
San Gorgonio Campground 7000′ 54 pines vault shwrs Hwy 38, disabled, RV 43′
South Fork Campground 6400′ 24 pines vault piped Hwy 38, RV max 30′

site12

San Jacinto Campgrounds near Idyllwild area

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Black Mountain Group 6000′ 16 pines pit piped group site
Boulder Basin Campground 7300′ 34 pines pit piped No RVs
Dark Canyon Campground 5800′ 22 pines pit piped Creek, Rd 4S02
Fern Basin Campground 6000′ 22 pines vault piped Creek, Rd 4S02
Marion Mountain Campground 6400′ 24 pines vault piped Rd# 4S02
Pinyon Flat Campground 4000′ 18 pinyon vault piped bighorn sheep, year round
Santa Rosa Springs Camp 7000′ 3 pines pit no no RVs, Toro Peak
Thomas Mountain Camp 6800′ 6 mixed vault no no RVs, Rd 6S13; Lk Hemet
Tool Box Spring Campground 6500′ 6 mixed vault piped no RVs, above Lake Hemet
Toro Campground 7800′ 5 pines pit no Santa Rosa Wilderness

Southern California Camping see also –

Topo maps, wilderness hiking maps, Equestrian trails, OHV maps –

SoCal mountain communities include:

Big Bear Campsites

California Elevations

conradkid
High Sierra hiking @ 12,000 feet above sea level

elevation

high altitude towns    well above sea level

The majority of California cities are located near sea level, with low lying farmlands and populated coastlines common throughout world geography. California has super diversity w/ the population, as well as the elevation and the terrain. Vast rugged deserts bordering Nevada, from high deserts (8000′ @ Bodie ghost town) to low deserts (below sea level for Mecca) near the Salton Sea. Towering granite peaks with minimal vegetation, to fern canyons and redwood groves at the coast, California has quite the unique landscape.

The beautiful golden state is also home to the highest and lowest point within the lower 48 states; and those points are only about 100 miles apart – Death Valley  (-282′ elev) and  Mount Whitney  (14,494′ elev).

I-80 Donner PassMTN TOWN: upper elevation mountain towns w/ forests and flowing water, are primarily located in the Sierra Nevada range which runs the backbone of California in a north-south direction,  separating the Pacific Ocean from the Great Basin. High altitudes are abundant in California, especially in the Eastern Sierra – but most are only accessible by foot.

Mountain communities in Southern California includes places like Mount Laguna, Palomar, Big Bear, Arrowhead, Idyllwild and Mount Pinos.

The coastal mountain range and the Sierra Nevada  encompasses most of Central California. The rest of the space is dedicated to large cities, farmlands and farming towns – which are most lower elevation. Orchards and vineyards can be found in the foothills (200′-2000′ elevation)

Northern California has more mountains and rivers, generally higher elevations and plenty more space to explore. Secluded forests, rivers, creeks, lakes, and reservoirs can be found above 2000′ elevation, north of Sacramento. The bigger mountains in the far north part of the state are part of the Cacade Range, which is volcanic in nature. (Mt. Lassen & Mt. Shasta). More water, more trees and more land – NorCal is very different than the lower half of the golden state.

hwy33overlook
North of Ojai, CA – Highway 33 winds up to Los Padres NF

California Elevation Breakdown

  • Alpine lakes, streams, forests, mountain peaks, granite scenery is abundant above 6000′ elev.
  • Pine forests, junipers, sage chaparral, manzanita, joshua trees can be found between 3000-6000′
  • Hot Springs, creek canyons and cottonwoods are usually discovered above 2000′ elev.
  • Oak hills, ghost pines, creek beds, river canyons  and most agriculture range from 1000-3000′
  • Under 1000′ elevation is the majority of the populated cities and towns within California; coastline, urban areas, foothills, farmland and a few reservoirs
Mecca Hills
Mecca Hills, below sea level

GoogleMaps – groundbreaking tool for trip planning and checking out trailheads, camps and dirt roads from overhead

USGS Viewer – topographic overlays for altitude estimates, and various imagery

California Elevations Map

shaverMS

snowflakeSnow is always a factor in mid to high altitude towns with road conditions being unpredictable with each mountain range and each micro-climate. Winter months range from late October to May, so be warned. Above 3000′ elevation usually gets some snow. Serious snow above 5000′. Some High Sierra Passesdon’t open until JULY (Yosemite Hwy 120 & Sonora Hwy 108). Carry tire chains or have 4×4 to travel safely on snowy roads. Guard rails are seldom around every curve.

list of California towns
by elevation

 

Rainbow Lodge California

bishopbelow
Above Owens Valley (US 395) at sunset, as seen from the Sierra side (8000′ elev)

Crab Flats Campground

Crabflats

San Berdu National Forest: Crab Flats Campground National Forest Service

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MTS:
Big Bear Area Camping; Crabflats is on dirt road – Road# 3N16
elevation
North of Green Valley Lake, off Hwy 18. Between Big Bear Lake & Lake Arrowhead, California.

OHV trails abundant in this region, so expect some 4x4s, dirt bikes and engine noise. Looking for peaceful camp, try Heart Bar Camp.

Crab Flats Campground

• Elevation: 6,200′
• Number of Sites: 28
• Camping Reservations: Yes
• Sites Available: 3 first come
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 15′ max
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Water: No Piped; seasonal creek iffy
• Toilet: Vault
• Season: Open APR-NOV
• Fee: YesNFSlogo
• Operated By: National Forest Service
• Closest Town: Lake Arrowhead, CA

San Bernardino National Forest
Big Bear Discovery Center
Big Bear Lake, CA
909-382-2790

Topo maps, wilderness hiking maps, Equestrian trails, OHV maps –

nearby mountain communities:

Green Valley Lake

Lake Tahoe Campground

Indian Valley Campground
Indian Valley Campground, Tahoe National Forest

Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

Cabins

Tahoe Forest Campgrounds

sierra buttes California

Lake Tahoe California

Listed below are developed camp grounds and RV camps around Lake Tahoe, run by various agencies. Most require reservations and are only open half the year (or less).

Lake Tahoe campgrounds: blue links lead to camp info.

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Bayview Campground 6000′ 10 pines vault Emerald Bay
Camp Richardson Tahoe 6500′ 330 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe
Campground by the Lake 6000′ 157 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe
D.L. Bliss State Park 6000′ 168 pines flush piped Westshore, Lake Tahoe
Eagle Point Tahoe 6100′ 100 pines flush piped California State Park
Emerald Bay State Park 6000′ 16 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe CA
Fallen Leaf Lake Campground 6737′ 205 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe CA
General Creek Campground 6000′ 175 pines flush piped Westshore, Lake Tahoe
Kaspian Campground 5800′ 20 pines flush piped Westshore, Homewood CA
Lake Forest Campground 6300′ 21 pines flush piped Northshore, Tahoe Vista CA
Meeks Bay Campground 6000′ 17 pines flush piped Westshore, Tahoma CA
Mount Rose Campground 8500′ 24 pines flush piped in Nevada @ Tahoe
Nevada Beach Campground 6200′ 54 pines flush piped Nevada Lake Tahoe
Pope Beach Campground 6000′ 49 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe CA
Sandy Beach Campground 6300′ 44 pines flush piped Northshore, Tahoe Vista
Sugar Pine Point SP 6200′ 30 pines flush piped Westshore, Tahoma CA
Tahoe Pines Campground 6000′ 49 pines flush piped Meyers California
Tahoe Valley RV Campground 6000′ 413 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe CA
Tahoe Campground SRA 6200′ 16 pines flush piped West shore, Tahoe City
William Kent Park 6300′ 95 pines flush piped Westshore, Tahoe City
Zephyr Cove Campground 6200′ 170 pines flush piped boat rentals Tahoe NV

rangerAll Tahoe Campgrounds will charge a fee for day use or overnight stays; Many require advanced reservations. Nightly rates vary per park, but tend to be expensive in this region. Most campgrounds are closed during the winter due to the big snow. Check with the ranger districts listed here.

primitive camp spots
Sawmill Lake 4×4 Camp

camp RV camps NFS hikes fishing mountain biking camps river fishing

NFSlogo

Tahoe National Forest encompasses a large region of the Sierra Nevada mountains surrounding the north portion of Lake Tahoe. areas included – Donner Pass, American River, Yuba River, Northern Gold Country; Lakes Basin Recreation Area; Small lakes and reservoirs with excellent fishing, all surrounded by lush forests.

15milesto20

Campgrounds with mid (5000′) to high-elevation (8000′) locations close annually for winter snow. Many are open for a few short summer months.

Listed below are Tahoe Campgrounds located away from the Lake Tahoe Basin; Inside Tahoe National Forest  Smaller camps are on a first come, first serve basis. blue links lead to camp info.

campground elev. spots veg toilet water notes
Ahart Campground 5300′ 12 pines vault American River
Alpine Meadows 5900′ 25 pines vault Martis Creek
Bear Valley Campground 6600 10 pines vault piped OHV trails, Sierraville
Berger Campground 5900 7 pines vault lake Packer Lake, Lakes Basin
Big Reservoir Campground 4000 18 pines vault piped non motor lake, Foresthill
Boca Campground 5605′ 26 pines vault boat launch
Boca Rest Campground 5605′ 25 pines vault piped on Boca Reservoir
Boca Spring Campground 5800′ 17 pines vault piped horses
Bowman Lake 5585 7 pines vault lake Donner area
Boyington Mill Campground 5680′ 12 pines vault Boca Reservoir
Cal-Ida Campground 2000′ 21 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Canyon Creek Campground 6000′ 20 pines vault creek Donner area
Carlton Flat Campground 2200′ 21 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Carr Lake Campground 5900′ 5 pines vault lake Carr Feeley Lake
Chapman Creek Campground 6000′ 29 pines vault piped Yuba River
Chute Hill Campground 3400′ 30 pines flush piped Malakoff Diggins SP
Cold Creek Campground 5800′ 13 pines vault piped Sierraville
Cottonwood Campground 5600′ 24 pines vault piped Sierraville
Dark Day Campground 2200′ 16 oaks vault piped Bullards Bar Reservoir
Diablo Campground 5800′ 20 pines vault  Yuba River
Donner State Park Campground 5850′ 154 pines flush Donner Lake
East Meadow Campground 6100′ 46 pines flush piped Jackson Meadows Reservoir
Fiddle Creek Campground 2200′ 15 oaks vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Findley Campground 6100′ 14 pines flush piped Jackson Mdws Res
Fir Top Campground 6100′ 12 pines vault flush Jackson Mdws Res
French Meadows Campground 5300′ 75 pines vault flush French Meadows Reservoir
Garden Point Campground 2000′ 19 variety vault fishing boats
Giant Gap Campground 3700′ 30 pines vault fishing boats
Goose Meadow Campground 5800′ 24 pines vault piped fish Donner
Grouse Ridge Campground 7400′ 9 pines vault Hwy 20
Hampshire Rocks Campground 5800′ 31 pines vault piped fishing camp
Independence Lake 6900′ 20 pines vault piped fishing
Indian Springs Campground 5600′ 35 pines vault piped fishing, Yuba River OHV
Indian Valley Campground 2200′ 17 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Jackson Creek Campground 5600′ 14 pines vault creek
Jackson Point Campground 6100′ 8 vault boat access Jackson Mdws Res
Lakeside Campground 5700′ 41 vault boat ramp Prosser Reservoir
Lake Spaulding Campground 5000′ 24 vault boat ramp PG&E Campground
Laiser Meadow Horse Camping 6200′ 11 vault piped High Sierra PCT access
Lewis Campground 5300′ 40 pines flush piped French Meadows Reservoir
Lindsey Lake Campground 5900′ 7 vault lake
Lodgepole Camping 5800′ 18 vault Lake Valley Reservoir
Loganville Campground 6000′ 29 vault piped Yuba River, Sierra City
Logger Campground 6000′ 252 pines flush piped Stampede Reservoir
Long Ravine Campground 2300′ 28 pines flush piped Rollins Reservoir
Lower Little Truckee 6000′ 15 vault piped Truckee River fishing
Madrone Cove Campground 2000′ 11 none Bullards Bar Reservoir
Meadow Lake Campground 7200′ 15 vault Sierra fishing camp
Meadow Lake Shoreline 7200′ 10 vault High Sierra Nevada
Mumford Bar Campground 5300′ 5 vault Foresthill Road
North Fork Campground 4400′ 17 vault piped American River
Onion Valley Campground 2300′ 5 oaks vault Sierra fishing camp
Orchard Springs Campground 2300′ 15 oaks flush piped Rollins Reservoir, Colfax
Pack Saddle Campground 6000′ 15 pines vault pump Packer Lake
Lakes Basin
Parker Flat OHV Camping 3900′ 7 pines vault off roading trails
Pass Creek Campground 6100′ 30 pines flush piped Jackson Mdws Res
Peninsula Campground 2300′ 58 pines flush piped Rollins Reservoir
Pine Aire Campground 2700′ 75 pines flush piped South Yuba River Camp
Poppy Campground 5300′ 12 pines vault French Meadows Reservoir
Prosser Campground 5800′ 29 pines vault Prosser Res.
Ramshorn Campground 2600′ 16 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
River Rest Campground 2700′ 105 pines flush piped South Yuba River Camp
Robinson Flat Campground 6800′ 5 pines vault well
Rocky Rest Campground 2300′ pines vault Yuba River, Downieville
Rucker Campground 5800′ 10 pines vault Rucker Lake fishing
Sagenhen Campground 6480′ 10 pines vault
Salmon Creek Campground 5800′ 32 pines vault fishing
Lakes Basin
Sardine Campground 5800′ 29 pines vault Sardine Lake Lakes Basin
Schoolhouse Campground 2200′ 56 oaks flush piped Bullards Bar Reservoir
Scott’s Flat Campground 3200′ 86 oaks flush piped Scotts Flat Reservoir
Shirttail Creek Campground 3700′ 30 pines vault Sugar Pine Reservoir
Sierra Campground 5600′ 16 pines vault Yuba River, Sierra City
Silver Creek Campground 5800′ 27 pines vault Truckee River fishing
Snag Lake Campground 6000′ 12 pines vault Gold Lake Lakes Basin
South Yuba Campground 2700′ 16 pines vault South Yuba River Camp
Sterling Lake Campground 6500′ 6 pines vault lake
Talbot Campground 5600′ 5 pines vault American River
Union Flat Campground 3400′ 11 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Upper Little Truckee Camp 6100′ 26 pines vault Truckee River fishing
Webber Lake Campground 6800′ 60 pines vault lake Sierra fishing
White Cloud Campground 4200′ 46 pines flush piped biking, Nevada City
White Rock Lake Camp 7800′ 8 pines none High Sierra Nevada
Wild Plum Campground 4400′ 47 pines vault piped waterfalls, Sierra City
Woodcamp Campground 6100′ 20 pines flush piped
Woodchuck Campground 6300′ 8 pines vault creek
Yuba Pass Campground 6700′ 12 pines vault piped Yuba Pass, Hwy 49
Loganville Campground
Loganville Campground on Hwy 49
Union Flat Campground
North Yuba River @ Union Flat Campground

Tahoe National Forest

Tahoe Topo Maps


20N01- Mendo NF

20N01

Forest Road #20N01 – Mendo National Forest

Road 308 Ivory Mill Road. Located on the EAST SIDE of the coastal mountain range, west of Stony Gorge Reservoir.

South Fork of Elk Creek, California

Lodoga Stonyford Rd #306 – also known as just plain Stonyford Road, skirts the coastal foothills in a north south direction, on the east side of the range. Oaks and ranches, livestock grazing and fences everywhere. CHP out in force, so watch your speed (55). Public lands and forests are up the hill, above the valley, on the dirt roads. Free camping, off roading, hiking, creeks, lakes, mountains.

Drive up paved Road 308 passing the ranch lands and private properties.

Just inside the National Forest boundary, 308 peels off sharply to the left, uphill and steep, super sandy. The views over the valley, hills and reservoir are epic, but the dirt road is fluffy dry dirt, tight curves, no guardrails. A long and winding track, with very little spot to turn around. Maybe designated as OHV route?

This whole area is where the Ranch Fire of 2018 was burning; contained at road 308. The wildfire burnt half a million acres in Mendo NF (the largest fire in California history). Some of these roads may be closed off now. Call the rangers for current, up-to-date accessibility!

So… back at the National Forest boundary: Straight. Take the right fork instead, which goes straight into the forested canyon, up the creek. Elk Creek, south fork coming from the higher peaks above. This pleasant forest drive is called Mendocino Rd #20N01 and it climbs upward with hairpin turns; continues up to the top of the forested ridges @ 5000’+ elevation.

Forest Oaks Mendo

Wildflowers in Spring. Snow in winter. This back route may have been paved once in 1960, but it is nearly back to dirt again in most sections. Suitable for passenger car travel at slow speeds. Unless of course, it is raining or snowing, then 4WD may be best. And being that this is real Northern California territory, rain and snow are annual.

Campfires on the Back Roads
SPRINGTIME: Free Camps and Campfires on the Back Roads

Dispersed camping is allowed in this region with a valid fire permit.

Various camping spots near roadside, after mile 8. Reset trip meter when your turn off main drag (Lodoga Stonyford Road).

Mendo National Forest
Mendocino National Forest Map

Snow Mountains Wilderness
Fouts Springs

towns nearby:

Alder Springs
Elk Creek, CA
Stonyford
Williams, CA
Willows, CA

Fouts Springs

fout springs

Fouts Springs California

2018 (Mendo Complex Wildfire) Ranch Fire has reached this area and it is closed indefinitely.

roadtofouts
Paved Road M10, Mendo National Forest

This area may or may not be burning as I type, but I just wanted to show you how beautiful it was back in the spring 2018. Click on images to see larger format.

Fouts Springs is multi-use recreation area on the east side of Mendocino National Forest. Located near the Snow Mountain Wilderness trailhead, this region is popular with the off-road boys.

fouts water

fouts camp

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Davis Flat Campground 1700′ 28 mixed vault no OHV trails
Fouts Campground 1700′ 11 mixed vault piped OHV trails
Little Stony Campground 1500′ 8 pines vault no OHV trails
Mill Creek Campground 1700′ 5 mixed yes no OHV trails
South Fork Campground 1700′ 4 mixed vault creek Stony Creek, OHV

Spring Fouts Mendo

Fouts campgrounds are located on the EAST SIDE of Mendo NF on paved road M10. Situated below 2000′ elevation and open year round!

Road M10 Mendo
Road M10 Mendocino

TRAVELERS NOTE: Tent campers, RV and truck campers can easily access this area, all paved roads. Exit Williams or Willows on I-5 and head west. A decent backcountry map or Mendocino National Forest Map is advised; Numerous canyons, forested creeks and campgrounds. Always check with Mendocino National Forest for road closures and conditions.

dirt bike crossing

OFF-ROADERS NOTE: Use caution on paved access road M10, especially when driving with trailers or large RVs. Narrow road, long and winding with blind curves and no guard rails!! Always check with Mendocino National Forest for road closures and conditions.

Mendocino Ranger Stations can be found on link below

NFSMendocino National Forest

foutspicnic

Big Sur Campground

Big Sur Camping Sites & Campgrounds

big sur camping

Plaskett Creek Campground has green lawns, pine trees, & flush toilets. Located across the highway from Sand Dollar Beach, right on Hwy 1. Ponderosa Campground, on the other hand, has native grasses, oak trees, a seasonal creek and is located on a paved back road, with easy access from US Hwy 101

Central Coast Camping

Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest manages several Campgrounds along the Central Coast. Some are first come, first serve.

aldercamp
Alder Creek Camp
willowcreekrdsign
Willow Creek Road #23S01

hikes

Los Padres National Forest

Backpacking trails lead into the wilderness backcountry, along ridge lines with vast ocean views and also deep into fern creeks with redwood canyons. Sykes Hot Springs is a remote destination, if you like to hike, although summer can get crowded. Overnight wilderness permits and campfire permits may be needed.

mcwayfalls
McWay Falls @ Julia Pfieffer Burns SP

Free camping in Big Sur
can be found on dirt back roads:

primitive camp sites

DISPERSED CAMP: No charge camp sites means dirt road access, tighter camp fire restrictions & no facilities (table, bathrooms, fire pits). Campfire permits are required for primitive camping (stoves & BBQ), but unfortunately much of the time camp fires are not even allowed in the backcountry due to extreme wildfire danger.

None of these free camp sites are located on the beach or ocean shoreline. They are situated in the mountains near the coast.  These premium, hard to find camp spots usually require that you venture off the beaten path – w/ a National Forest map or regional topo map. If you want to camp without the tourists and crowds, with excellent views of the coast & the night sky, plus avoiding all fees – then take one of these dirt roads off the main highway & start exploring (preferably before sunset, with a high clearance vehicle).

prewittroads

Free camping California

Big Sur Private Campgrounds –

camp

Big Sur State Park Campgrounds –CA state parks

Big Sur Coastal Towns –

Prewitt Ridge Camping

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 –

    Rock Creek California

    rockycreek

    Rock Creek, CA

    Due the nature of gravity, erosion and heavy rocks, creek beds tend to be rocky ravines near mountains – which collect rocks as they slide downhill. Creeks work as water drainage off the mountains. Inside California we have plenty of mountain ranges and plenty of movement, as the Pacific plate plows into North America, tectonically speaking.

    How many Rock Creeks are inside the golden state of California? Heck, I dunno. Let’s try to find them all.

    winterlodge

    Probably the best known, is the one near Mammoth Lakes, CA

    Rock Creek @ Mammoth

    Rock Creek Road, Eastern Sierra
    Inyo National Forest
    Road #4S12
    ROCK CREEK LAKE
    NFS CAMPGROUND (9600′ elev w/ 66 sites)
    GROUP CAMPGROUND (reservations required)
    RESORTS
    CABIN RENTALS
    Road #6S05
    WILDERNESS TRAILHEADS
    Toms Place, CA

    rockcreeklakeresort

    fallflames
    Eastern Sierra Rock Creek Rd

    Off Road Gold Country, Sierra foothills

    Rock Creek, Western Sierra
    Eldorado National Forest
    HIKING & HORSEBACK
    OHV TRAILS
    4×4 CAMPS
    Georgetown, CA
    RUBICON TRAIL @ LOON LAKE

    RockCreekOHV

    How can we forget the creek camping & trail access south of Shaver?

    bald mtn
    Jeepers on granite @ Bald Mountain, above Shaver Lake, CA

    Shaver Lake, Sierra National Forest

    Rock Creek Rd, Southern Sierra
    Dinkey Creek Area
    Sierra National Forest
    PRIMITIVE, DISPERSED CAMPING
    4×4 TRAILS
    BALD MOUNTAIN elev 7832′
    DINKEY DOME elev 7697′
    DUSY IRSHIM TRAIL
    Shaver Lake, CA

    Northern Sierra
    Feather River Canyon

    Rock Creek, Highway 70
    North fork Feather River

    Large feeder creek from the north side of highway (California SR 70), in Plumas National Forest. Located in the popular railroad canyon known as the Feather River Canyon.

    Sugar Loaf Mountain elev 3553′ with Tobin Ridge line each side of Rock Creek as it descends the mountain tops. The junction where the creek meets the big river is just south of Bucks Creek Power Station @ STORRIE, CA. The overall location is half way in between OROVILLE, CA and QUINCY, CA

    camp

    campfires

    primitive camp sites

    But wait, we have California Campgrounds named Rock Creek too.

    Mammoth Reservoir
    Mammoth Pool Reservoir

    Rock Creek Campground – Mammoth Pool Reservoir, south of Yosemite National Park, behind Bass Lake, CA Sierra National Forest (18 camp sites)

    Rock Creek Campground – US Hwy 101 NorCal Redwood forests, north of Leggett, CA. Camp located on the Eel River, in the Standish Hickey State Recreation Area. (36 camp sites)

    Also the is a small ROCK LAKE located inside Lakes Basin Recreation Area, northern Gold Country @ Yuba River headwaters. Hike-in access only.

    Rock Front OHV

    Similarly named ROCK FRONT RANCH is 4×4 trails & 4WD camping area. Cool windcaves, super steep terrain, and wildflowers. Off Highway 166, west of the city of Santa Maria on the Central Coast of Cali.

    Rock Front Los Padres
    Rock Front Ranch in Los Padres NF

    Inyo Forest Roads

    Baker Creek
    Baker Creek, Inyo NF

    Eastern Sierra Nevada – Inyo Mountains
    Inyo Forest Back Roads – Mammoth Off Road

    Off Road near US Highway 395. Yep, Olancha has some OHV (off-road) areas near the dunes, but this web site is dedicated to the real deal, the scenery, the trail heads, the hot springs, great secluded camping & of course, back road exploring.

    You will need a Inyo National Forest map to discover these back roads. These are minimally traveled routes, un-maintained, sometimes washed out, eroded & maybe even creek crossings (without a bridge). Some gravel two-lane routes, some one lane roads leading deep into dead end canyons.

    A few popular routes are paved, but most of these listed are indeed dirt roads. Some may require high clearance vehicle, or even 4×4. Know your vehicles limitations & be prepared to turn back when the road worsens. Cuz more often than not, it’s a sign of what more difficult terrain is to come.

    coyote creek route

    Watch out for live stock – they are dumber than they look.

    Owenyo Rd – Wanna parallel the highway (395) on dirt; Sure, it’s a long bumpy route – from Hwy 136 @ Dolomite to Bend City @ Mazourka Cyn.

    Road# 13S05 – Mazourka Canyon Rd – leads up to some old mining camps & way behind Mazourka Peak (9410′) deep into the Inyo mountains. It’s all desert on this side, but these canyons have pinyons & more vegetation than you would imagine. Road# 9S15 & 9S14 circle Andrews Mountain (9460′) then join back up w/ Death Valley Rd (the North Pass into Saline Valley).

    Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest has some great dirt roads surrounding it. After you are finished with all the touristy sights & you don’t wanna spend the rest of the day in the visitors center or back at camp, try Cottonwood Canyon – full of aspens, camp sites & fishing, not cottonwood trees. 4×4 is required. Crooked Creek has boulders, boulders & more boulders. Plus some amazing camp sites with open sky views. Silver Canyon is for high clearance only, 2WD okay. This will lead you down to Laws Railroad Museum on Hwy 6, on the back side of Bishop, CA

    Benton Crossing Rd (green church @ 395)
    This wide road leads out to multiple dirt roads that peel off in every direction. Many Eastern Sierra Hot Springs can be found out here – on the east side of the highway. No hot spring resorts, no facilities, no clothing & very primitive.

    Bishop 4×4 route Coyote Flat
    Coyote Wash leads up to Coyote Flat & out to Coyote Lake. This a a spectacular high altitude plateau overlooks the Owens Valley & requires 4 wheel drive just to get up there. Pinyons, junipers, aspens, wildflower meadows, old mines, & yes, lakes at 11,000′ elevation. Views of the High Sierra & South Lake.

    Buttermilk Road – This dirt road is north turn off of Hwy 168, W of Bishop, CA. “The Buttermilks” are a popular spot among rock climbers. A great place for indian petroglyphs too!

    Road# 9S21 – Glacier Lodge Road – Paved road. Creek exploring & fishing. Plenty Campgrounds. W of Big Pine CA

    Horseshoe Meadows Rd – Paved route with great views over Owens dry lake bed; access via Lone Pine CA; A nice day trip to meadows & High Sierra scenery. Picnic & day hike!

    McMurray Meadows Rd – south off of Glacier Lodge Rd (#9S21) just W of Big Pine CA. You can find ancient cinder cone volcanoes & cave-like lava tubes in between this long dirt road & the highway.

    monacheMonache Meadows is a high elevation meadow that takes some time & determination to get to. This area is part of the Inyo National Forest, but can be accessed by either: backpacking thru the high Sierra’s or driving a high clearance vehicle thru Sequoia NF # 22S05 Sherman Pass Road, behind the Black Rock Ranger Station & Troy Meadows Campground. High clearance is needed, 4×4 maybe. Great camping sites near Olancha Peak trailhead. The area is surrounded by Golden Trout Wilderness & South Sierra Wilderness. From US Highway 395 to Kennedy Mdws & then Monache is a full day of exploring, so you may as well stay the night up there. But bring warm gear, a campfire permit & a capable vehicle.

    Manzanar Routes – Back behind Manzanar Camp there are miles of dirt roads to explore. Many creeks side camp sites can be found even with a passenger car. Small trees & sage brush. Secluded camping (for free) is possible in the Eastern Sierra.

    Mono Craters (Rd# 1N11) – the youngest mountain range on the continent. Just south of Mono Lake, this route skirts the pumice cones & climbs over the Aeolian Buttes, before it meets back up with Hwy 395.

    Walker Creek Rd #19S01 – Oaks & creek. South of Olancha CA, look for turn off & follow dirt road up into the tight canyon.

    Fish Slough Road (Rd #3V01) – open, high-desert area near volcanic tablelands. Find Indian Petroglyphs. N of Bishop, CA

    keough hot tubInyo Road# 6S16 – Pine Creek Road – Creek exploring & fishing. NW of Bishop behind Rovana, also known as Round Valley, CA

    Road# 4S02 – Owens Gorge Road – N of Bishop behind Lake Crowley. Camping w/ boulders & pines. Good open sky views for stargazing.

    Road# 4S86 (Inyo Rd #28E201) – Laurel Lakes Road – Camp in aspens @ Laurel lakes, high elevation; access to alpine lake trailheads; SE of Mammoth Lakes, CA

    Road# 2S05 – Deadman Creek – Creek fishing in forest. N of Mammoth

    Road# 2S07 – Owens River Road – Pine forest, near hot springs; no facilities. N of Mammoth

    Road# 1S63 – June Lake Loop is CA SR 158 (Hwy 158) paved main route, which is often closed for winter months, due to deep snow.

    Road# 1N17 North of June Lake Loop; dirt road access to Parker Lakes & Walker Lake trailheads; Side canyon routes offer (unmarked) picnic areas and fishing spots; few primitive camping options.

    Road# 1S25A Parker Lakes Road– Aspen & pine forest, near creeks; E of Grant Lake / N of June Lake

    Road# 1S23 Walker Lake Road – Pine forest route to Walker Lake; E of Grant Lake / N of June Lake

    Impressive Canyons

    Kirch Flat Campground

    Kirch Flat NFS
    Camp Kings River

    kirch flat

    Low elevation Western Sierra: a big river at the beginning of Kings Canyon. Fishing, biking and hiking. The Kings Cyn National Park is directly east, upriver.

    Oak woodlands, steep granite canyons, waterfall hikes, rock beaches, river fishing, mountain biking and wildflowers. Day time temperatures get triple-digit in summer months, so best time to visit is the rest of the year. Small RV accessible, paved road, river close – and best of all, open all year long!

    flora west sierra

    Kirch Flat Campground

    Due EAST of Fresno, California in a large river canyon, Western Sierra Nevada
    Located 18 miles up Trimmer Springs Road (paved), 5 miles above Pine Flat Lake. Sierra National Forest; River rafting take-out spot for Middle Kings River.

    • Elevation: 1100′
    • Number of Sites: 17
    • Camp Fee: No
    • Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′ max
    • Campsites Reservation: No
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: Open Year Round
    • Trailheads: Kings River

    lowerkings

    see also Kings River Camping

    nearby destinations –

    Big Creek Rd #9
    Blackrock Reservoir
    Dinkey Creek
    Dinkey Lakes Wilderness
    Fresno, CA
    Kings Canyon NP
    Monarch Wilderness
    Pine Flat Reservoir
    Reedley, CA
    Shaver Lake, CA
    Sierra National Forest
    Sequoia NP
    Wishon Reservoir

    Cuyama Valley

    Cuyama River Valley, California

    Ventucopa WineriesNorth of Ojai, Highway 33 meets Highway 166: Ozena, Ventucopa, & New Cuyama make up the 3 small communities inside the Cuyama River Valley, located in south of the San Joaquin (California’s Central) Valley.

    On the outter edge of Santa Barbara County, where Kern, San Luis Obispo & Ventura counties all meet, you can find great solitude, a large red dirt, high desert wash & plenty rural trails. Off-roading, backcountry camping, hiking, mountain biking all over this region.

    Ozena Ranger Station sits at the south end of Cuyama, at the intersection of Lockwood Valley Rd & Hwy 33. Ozena Campground with 10 spots @ 3660′ elevation, is to the east off Lockwood.

    Nettle Springs Campground (8 spots @ 4400′ elevation) can be accessed via Apache Canyon, a 10 mile long dirt road# 8N06, off Hwy 33

    2 smaller campgrounds – Tinta and Ranch Nuevo are on the west side of Hwy 33 & may require a high clearance vehicle to reach. Trails out of these campgrounds lead to the Dick Smith Wilderness.

    Chumash Wilderness is just east of Ventucopa, as Los Padres National Forest surround this agricultural valley. Quatal Canyon and Quatal Wash reach from the upper elevations of pinyon pines near Mount Able to Cuyama river bed below, as Cerro Noroeste Road skirts the northern rim of the impressive red rock canyon. Toad Spring Campground is at the top. Apache Saddle and Pine Mountain Club are just east of Quatal Cyn.

    Cuyama riverbed follows Highway 33 and then turns west, following Highway 166, past the ranch lands, the volcano hills and notorious Rock Front Ranch.

    All the pavement around Cuyama is very popular amongst motorcyclists. Scenic touring kinda roads. A very nice 100 mile loop trip is from Pine Mountain Club – W on Mil Potrero Hwy, W on Cerro Noroeste Rd, W on Hwy 166, S on Hwy 33, East on Lockwood Valley Road – back to Frazier Park & I-5 Lebec.

    Mahutasan, the indian sweat lodge and the extremely rustic Sage Brush Annies Restaurant w/ winery are the highlights of this rural agriculture valley called Ventucopa CA. Cuyama Peak and fire lookout tower overlooks the whole Cuayama Valley & can be accessed via Santa Barbara Canyon Rd. 4×4 may be required in certain spots. This lovely oak and manzanita lined canyon was scorched by the Zaca Wildfire in mid 2007.

    • Cuyama Wineries
    • Pistacio Orchards
    • Quatal Canyon
    • Ballinger OHV Park

    helpful maps of the region –

    towns in the valley –

    towns close by –


    View Larger Map

    Hwy 166 Wildflowers, School House Canyon
    Hwy 166 Wildflowers, School House Canyon


    12S01 – Sierra NF

    12S01kingsriver

    Kings River, Sierra National Forest
    Road #12S01 – Lower Kings

    Located in between Kings Canyon National Park and Pine Flat Reservoir. Graded dirt road w/ trailhead parking & camping; Primitive car camping, vault toilets, some areas accessible by small RV. Campfire permits are required.

    Long, (sometimes rough) dirt road, that parallels the north side of the Kings River. Dirt road used by families, fishermen, kayakers, campers, mountain bikers, rafters and rafting shuttle buses, seasonally. May be gated and closed off to the public in wetter months of the year.

    Bear Wallow Trailhead
    Kings River Trailhead

    kingscampsites
    click to enlarge

    Forest Route 12S01 crosses the river and leads to the south side of the river, near Green Cabin Flat. Mill Flat Campground is back this way.

    Road 12S01 gains in elevation, turns to high-clearance, continuing up McKenzie Ridge thru a small slice Sequoia National Forest to the highway Kings Canyon National Park. 4×4 may be needed in wet/snowy weather.

    flats of kings